It’s not just sedans that Ford’s cut from its US lineup, but hot hatches too. Up until fairly recently, you could walk into a Blue Oval dealership and take your pick from 3 different models. There was the all-wheel-drive rally-inspired Focus RS, as well as the more ‘traditional hot hatch’-style FWD Focus ST. And then there was the pint-sized Ford Fiesta ST, which could punch above its weight class.
The Ford Fiesta ST was in the US for a fun time, not a long time
The Ford Fiesta ST wasn’t sold in the US for very long. It launched here in 2014, Automobile reports, and was discontinued after 2019, Roadshow reports. And while the overseas Fiesta ST was updated in 2018, that understandably didn’t happen for US models.
However, while the Ford Fiesta ST’s time here was brief, it came well-equipped to take on the rest of the hot hatch segment. Under the hood is a 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder rated at 197 hp and 202 lb-ft, NADAGuides reports. Though that’s only during ‘overboost,’ Road & Track reports; normally, it makes 180 hp. Still, that’s good for a 0-60 mph time of 6.4 seconds, Motor Trend reports.
And good news—the Fiesta ST doesn’t have the base Fiesta’s dual-clutch transmission woes. That’s because its only transmission is a 6-speed manual.
The Ford Fiesta ST has a few more performance upgrades over the standard model. It has a faster steering rack, a roof-mounted spoiler, and a rear diffuser, R&T reports. There’s not an actual limited-slip differential, but it does have the Focus ST’s brake-based torque-vectoring system. The Fiesta ST also has 4-wheel vented disc brakes, lower and sportier suspension, a thicker front anti-roll bar, and optional Recaro seats, Jalopnik and Car and Driver report.
Although the US didn’t receive the next-gen Ford Fiesta ST, our version was updated over its production run, FiestaSTForum users report. The 2016 MY received slightly softer suspension bushings and dampers but a stiffer anti-roll bar and rear torsion beam to improve ride quality. The rear engine mounts were also stiffened, and the engine received some internal upgrades, too.
The Ford Fiesta ST is still a blast to drive
The Ford Fiesta ST isn’t a perfect hot hatch, Automobile reports. Besides its size, the pedals aren’t well-positioned for heel-toe shifting, and the initial models’ Recaro seats’ heater controls were just ‘on’ or ‘off.’ Plus, the first Fiesta STs don’t have backup cameras, and have poorer ride quality.
However, the Fiesta ST can make a decent daily driver. With a software update, the 2016 and later models’ infotainment system can support Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, r/FiestaST sub-Reddit users report. 2018 saw the release of a standard backup camera. Plus, while it’s not a big car, MT reports taller drivers shouldn’t have a problem getting comfortable.
But the Ford Fiesta ST’s strengths truly shine when you show the hot hatch a curvy road. It’s almost as agile as a motorcycle in traffic, R&T reports. It was actually a finalist in R&T’s 2014 Performance Car of the Year, despite being the slowest car there.
Although it’s not as powerful as the Focus ST, that’s actually to the Fiesta ST’s benefit, Car and Driver reports. There’s little to no torque steer, and in corners, the car simply grips and goes. It managed to beat both the Fiat 500 Abarth and the Mini Cooper S in Car and Driver’s comparison test due to its, and I quote, “near-dynamic perfection.” Automobile took its long-term Ford Fiesta ST on a winter rally stage trying to deliberately break it, but it slid through the snow without issue. It’s simply a joy to drive.
Though if you want more performance, Mountune has a wide selection of parts, some of which don’t void the factory warranty. But you don’t need them to enjoy what R&T calls “probably the best used performance car you can buy right now.”
Issues to look out for, recommended years, and pricing guide
Although the Ford Fiesta ST avoids the base Fiesta’s transmission woes, the early models were recalled due to an overheating issue. The 2016 and later models’ have upgraded cooling systems and cylinder head designs to avoid this, FiestaSTForum users report.
PistonHeads reports the tie rod ends can wear sooner than expected, as can the clutch slave cylinder. Plus, early models are known to suffer failing A/C blend door actuators, Out Motorsports and r/FiestaST sub-Reddit users report. Also, the pre-2016 models ride noticeably more poorly than the later ones.
However, these issues are rectified with modern aftermarket parts, so they’re not deal-breakers. It helps that used Fiesta STs are fairly cheap. You can find pre-2016 models on Autotrader for under $10,000. And later models go for less than $15,000.
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