Hot hatches are my favourite class of car. Fast, entertaining and practical are words that come to mind when describing a hot hatch and car makers battle to find that perfect balance between hooligan weekend racer and weekday office commuter. The new Ford Fiesta is set to become a best-seller as I believe it balances these two traits perfectly.
Proper hot hatch looksThe Ford Fiesta ST looks like a hot hatch, which is half the battle won. You can’t slap on a badge, fit bigger wheels and expect it to become a street-racer. A gaping grille with an ST badge and daytime-running light strips give the Fiesta ST an impressive presence, while 17-inch alloy wheels, twin pipes and a huge wing round off the shape. It’s a two-door, which further contributes to the aggressive appearance.
134kWs of hooliganThe Fiesta ST has a 1.6-turbocharged engine with 134kW and 240Nm, with an extra 50Nm available on overboost. It doesn’t sound like much, but with a six-speed gearbox and a sporty chassis the little Fiesta ST darts about eagerly. You’ve got enough power to nip at the heels of more expensive machinery and given enough tarmac the car will reach a top speed of 220km/h.
While the above-mentioned power output doesn’t seem like much, the way it handles and drives quickly underlines the hot hatch credentials. Steering and gear-action are direct and you’ll find yourself becoming very involved with the car. If you consider driving a chore, or want a subdued drive home, the Ford Fiesta ST isn’t the car for you. If you’re after a quick and hands-on vehicle, you won’t be disappointed as it’s one of the most entertaining cars I’ve ever driven. Prod the accelerator pedal and you can hear the exhaust popping. Drive with the window open and you can hear the turbocharger whining with intent. The problem is you’ll want to drive in an aggressive manner the moment you reach for the start button.
It’s quick in a straight line, but the way the Fiesta ST attacks corners is quite special. It grips and goes like a go kart, and only when you push it right to the limit does it start to get twitchy. The stability program does have a sport mode, which allows some loss of traction, but I left it in full nanny to be on the safe side. Besides, I don’t think you’ll get that much more fun with it off.
InteriorThe boy racer theme carries on once you take a seat inside. Speaking of seat, Ford called in specialists Recaro for the Fiesta’s seating arrangements. The result is seats which are snug and hold you in position. These are the real deal, but they can become a little too cramped for those who aren’t used to them. I was a little disappointed they weren’t leather though…
Much like the rest of the Fiesta range, the ST comes well kitted out. There’s a Sony high quality audio system with the smart SYNC system as well as USB/Aux connectivity. There’s keyless entry, rear park sensors, cruise control and climate control. If you become a little too wild, there’s a stability program as well as numerous airbags to keep you safe.
Ford Fiesta ST price in South AfricaThe Ford Fiesta ST retails in South Africa for R254 995, which is about R85 000 more than the base Fiesta 1.4 model.
Ford Fiesta ST conclusionIf you haven’t been already, it’s time to start paying attention to Ford’s hot hatches. While I’m not ready to declare the Fiesta ST the best bang-for-buck hot hatch, it’s a product that speaks to a financially-sensitive market. Ford isn’t talking about competing with other brands with the ST range. It’s talking about winning the market segment. In summary, it’s hard to fault this terrific vehicle. In a cash-strapped market that craves fast, stylish and affordable vehicles, the Ford Fiesta ST easily gets full marks from me. It’s a delight to drive, looks the part and won’t hurt your wallet.
- Why you should: a most entertaining way to get around, comprehensive standard features, value for money, looks like a boy racer and drives like one too.
- Why you shouldn’t: rear legroom isn’t great, overall package may be a little over the top for some.
- It would be better if: Leather Recaro seats would have been a nice option.
- Competitors worth checking out: Volkswagen Polo GTI, Peugeot 208 GTI, Renault Clio RS