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REVIEW – Ford Fiesta 1.5 EcoBoost ST-2 2019

Editor-in-chief, Senior Reviewer


Ford Fiesta 1.5 EcoBoost ST-2
  • Exterior Styling
  • Interior Finish
  • Engine / Performance
  • Ride / Handling
  • Economy
  • Practicality
  • Equipment
  • Value For Money
5

Summary

The new Fiesta ST had to be good to live up to its predecessor. Ford Performance developed this car, and have delivered an absolute gem. Despite having a rather un-hot-hatch 1.5-litre, 3-cylinder petrol engine it manages to be faster, louder and more fun than the previous car. It’s more economical too! In addition, sleeker exterior lines and a more premium cabin finish ensure that the new Fiesta ST is better in every way.


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Exterior Styling

The outgoing Ford Fiesta ST was a resounding success for the company. As a result you see many of them on the road. Considering the car was launched in 2013, it’s aged pretty well. Until now, that is. Because the new Fiesta ST has moved onto the street and made the old ones look, well, old.

The lines on the new Ford Fiesta are much smoother than before. There are no harsh body lines, and this gives Ford’s small hatchback a sleeker look. The Fiesta ST builds on this to add some aggression and sportiness, as an ST should.

At the front, the grille has a shape akin to a catfish mouth. On the ST this is emphasised by the more open, honeycomb insert. A red ‘ST’ badge sits on the right hand site to let people know it means business.

Prominent LED daytime running lights frame the headlights, and create a bold silhouette. The Fiesta ST has a broader front bumper with chunkier corners. In addition to incorporating fog lights, they give the car a muscular feel.

Down the side, there are more sweeping lines. 17-inch wheels are standard on the ST-2 model, but our test car had the optional 18-inch two-tone alloys usually found on an ST-3. They do suit the car well, giving it plenty of kerb appeal.

The rear bumper is made broader with reflectors on the outer edge. The muscular look it further bolstered by a roof spoiler, body-coloured valance and twin exhaust pipe. There’s only one badge on the back: the larger ‘ST’ one. Then again, what other badge is needed?!

Interior Finish

Just like the Focus ST Line X we recently tested, the Ford Fiesta benefits enormously from a redesigned interior.

On the whole there is a nicer mix of materials, with more soft-touch plastics used in key areas. The Fiesta, understandably, doesn’t feel as premium as the Focus though. There are still some hard, scratchy plastics dotted about.

The finisher in the Fiesta ST is a glossy carbon-effect trim. Featured on the centre console and dashboard it looks really good. If anything, we want more of it. The 3-door model we tested has large front doors, and they would have really benefited from a flash of the carbon trim at the top. As it is, they’re a bit plain.

The multimedia screen is now perched on the dashboard, and this looks much more modern. It also allows for a bigger 8.0-inch touchscreen to bring out the full functionality of Ford’s SYNC 3 system.

The seats in the Ford Fiesta ST continue to be big, heavily-bolstered Recaro buckets: just what a hot hatch needs! A chunky flat-bottomed steering wheel and short-throw gear lever are nice touches too. There’s even a proper handbrake for, erm, when you stop on a hill.

One notable omission is a digital instrument cluster. Some of the Fiesta ST’s competition – specifically the Volkswagen Polo GTi – do have this now.

It’s also worth mentioning that the ST-2 has a nicer interior colour scheme than the range-topping ST-3 model. The ST-3 has a half-leather trim finished in black and grey. It is nice, but the grey and blue finish of the ST-2 seats, complete with blue accents on the seatbelts, just feels sportier.

It also brings some coordination if, as many Fiesta ST purchasers will, you choose the exclusive Performance Blue paint.

Engine/Performance

You may have read our review of the Ford Fiesta ST200 special edition. In that review, I claimed that with the new Fiesta ST having a 1.5-litre, 3-cylinder petrol engine the ST200 could well be the last ‘proper’ Fiesta ST.

I’ll hold my hands up. I was wrong. Because this new car is the most exciting the Fiesta ST has ever been to drive. It’s the most lively, has the most character, and I should just learn to trust Ford’s engineers and keep my mouth shut.

This Fiesta ST was developed by Ford Performance, and that may have something to do with it.

The 1.5 Ecoboost packs 200PS and 290Nm of torque. Uncharacteristically for a 3-cylinder engine, there is plenty of grunt at low revs, and it keeps revving right up to the redline. 0-62mph takes 6.5 seconds and the top speed is 144mph.

In fact, the only trait of this engine in keeping with a 3-cylinder is the distinct ‘thrum’ of an engine note. But amplified through a rather vocal exhaust, with pops and bangs thrown in for good measure, it sounds terrific.

The short-throw gear lever allows fast, precise changes. And for the first time ever the Fiesta ST gets launch control. It’s part of the optional Performance Pack, which also features a mechanical limited-slip differential, and is a must-have option.

The differential ensures you can put power down, and it really works: giving you confidence to get the power on early. The electronic traction control system then becomes intrusive, so best to turn that off.

The new Ford Fiesta ST has different drive modes, from ‘Normal’ up to ‘Race Track’. Affecting the steering weight, throttle response and exhaust note, we found ourselves in Track mode all the time. With a big grin on our face.

Ride/Handling

The new Ford Fiesta ST has a lot to live up to, because the outgoing car was immense fun to drive. It has likened to the Peugeot 205 GTi, and there is no higher compliment to pay a hot hatches handling than that.

Except that now, there is. Because at some point, 20 years in the future, a motoring journalist will compare a car to this Fiesta ST. It’s a benchmark against which hot hatches must be judged.

Like the last car, the suspension is firm. And with the larger 18-inch alloy wheels you notice it even more. But a hot hatch should be firm. What’s more, those big Recaros ensure that you can’t call the Fiesta ST ‘uncomfortable’.

And the firm suspension comes into its own on a B-road. There the Fiesta ST is composed, and controlled. It absorbs lumps and bumps whilst remaining planted to the road.

Steering, as with most modern cars, lacks proper feel. But there’s a distinct weightiness to it, in track mode especially, and with the adaptive steering it’s especially direct.

Any steering inputs enact an immediate response from the front end. It dives into corners like an excited dog down a rabbit hole. So much so that you can feel the rear wheels cocking when you throw it into a corner.

With the limited-slip differential of the Performance Pack, you do get a better feel of how much grip is available at the front. It also means you can get the power on earlier out of the corners, making this a formidable car down the country lanes.

Push especially hard and you’ll get lift-off oversteer. It’s not as scary as it sounds, because the Fiesta ST is so well balanced, but best save that for the track nonetheless.

Economy

It was always known that the new 3-cylinder engine would bring economy benefits. Gladly these haven’t come at the expense of any performance capability.

The Fiesta ST features start/stop technology to save fuel in traffic and around town. Supposedly it can also shut down one of its three cylinders to improve fuel efficiency.

We have to admit that we didn’t notice this at any point on our test. So either it operates in the most unobtrusive way imaginable, or we never drove gently enough for it to operate.

Either way, the Fiesta ST was more economical than its predecessor. And we can say that with confidence, having owned the last one for 3 years.

Combined fuel consumption on the WLTP cycle is 40.4mpg and for a hot hatch there’s no argument there.

NEDC-equivalent CO2 emissions of 136g/km mean you’ll pay £210 when you buy the car, and the standard £145 in subsequent years.

The 3-cylinder engine is just as capable on the motorway, and because it still has plenty of torque you can hold higher gears to use less fuel.

It goes without saying, but the amount of time your right foot spends buried in the carpet – as is all too tempting – will have a direct effect on the economy figures you see in the real world. But like-for-like, the new Fiesta ST sees improvement over the previous car.

Practicality

Taking the Fiesta ST at face value, you would be forgiven for thinking that it might not be the most practical car around. After all, a 3-door hot hatch isn’t the go-to car when you think of lugging people around. Nor is it the final word in luggage transportation.

But it is what it is. The boot space of 311 litres is actually a little larger than the Ford Focus we recently tested. That’s mainly due to being a deeper space in the Fiesta, which is great for bulkier items. You certainly wouldn’t struggle getting a buggy in the back, should you so wish.

Rear legroom is reasonably generous, but access is somewhat limited. The big, bulky Recaro seats are difficult to clamber past even when tilted and slid forward. Children won’t have problems getting in, providing they are able to climb in themselves. Having to load a child into the rear seats won’t do any favours for your back.

There is, however, an easy solution. You see the Ford Fiesta ST is available as a 5-door. That means it can compete directly with the likes of the Volkswagen Polo GTi: a car which is 5-door only.

In terms of everyday usability, there can be no complaints whatsoever with the Fiesta ST. Selectable drive modes mean that the most extreme setting for steering and throttle response is saved for Race Track mode.

In normal mode the car is calm and collected, not aggressive and shouty. Visibility is good behind the wheel, and parking is therefore no problem at all.

The Fiesta ST shows that even though this is the fastest, firmest Fiesta, you can own one without compromise. Having the choice of 3 or 5-door is great: just pick the one that suits you!

Equipment

It’s likely that the ST-2 is likely to be the volume-seller for the Ford Fiesta ST. And we think the interior is nicer on it too. So what exactly do you get included as standard on the ‘lesser-equipped’ ST-2?

The aforementioned selectable drive modes are standard. You also get keyless start, which is operated by a button on the dashboard.

For safety, and to help the car achieve higher scores in the Euro NCAP test, the ST-2 gets something called the ‘NCAP Pack’. This includes lane-keeping alert, lane-keeping aid, speed limiter, rear seatbelt minder, rear centre headrest and auto-headlamps.

Other creature comforts include privacy glass, cruise control, single-zone climate control and heated front seats. If you opt for the 5-door model, only the front windows are electrically-operated as standard.

To give you peace of mind, and to help deter would be thieves, the Fiesta ST comes with a Thatcham Category 1 alarm. It’s also interesting to note that the Moutune kit that’s available for this new Fiesta ST includes an immobiliser which can be activated via a mobile app.

When it comes to multimedia, the Fiesta ST has it covered. You get SYNC3 on an 8-inch touchscreen. It includes DAB radio, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Bluetooth, USB and aux connectivity. Only satellite navigation is missing on the ST-2, but it can be added as an option.

Your favourite music will sound great on the B&O Premium Audio System that features 360-degree sound and 10-speakers.

Value For Money

The starting price of a 3-door Fiesta ST-2 is £20,700. For a 5-door it’s £21,150. With a reasonably generous standard specification that might be all you need to spend, although there are a fair few options to choose from.

And even if you get nothing else, you simply must select the £925 Performance Pack. It includes a Quaife limited-slip differential, launch control and performance shift lights. And it is what turns the Fiesta ST into the complete performance package.

To add a bit more kerb appeal, 18-inch alloys with red brake calipers are £500.

To add satellite navigation to the ST-2 model is a rather reasonable £550. If you want more old-school media, a CD player can be added for £200.

A rear-view camera isn’t really needed, but costs £300 if you do want one. Seemingly better value is the City Pack – power folding heated door mirrors and rear parking sensors – at £400.

The standard colour is Race Red. Frozen White will cost £250. Moondust Silver and Shadow Black are both £500. Magnetic is £650. The two best colours – Silver Fox and exclusive Performance Blue – are the most expensive at £750.

There are also various other options that can be added, from lighting to assistance packs and even an openable panorama roof. You have to show some restraint though, because the price can soon creep up.

Our test car was fitted with quite a few options, meaning that instead of £20,700 it would cost you £24,775. Although that might sound expensive, it’s very similar to what a Polo GTi would cost. And you can be very selective with the options to keep the cost down.

Either way, the Ford Fiesta ST will put a great big smile on your face, and it’s the hot hatch to beat.

Facts and Figures

Engine 1.5-litre, 3-cylinder turbocharged petrol
Max power 200PS at 6,000rpm
Max torque 290Nm at 1,600-4,000rpm
Drivetrain 6-speed manual transmission, front-wheel drive with limited-slip differential **
0-62mph 6.5 seconds
Top speed 144mph
Fuel tank size 42 litres
Fuel consumption 40.4 mpg combined, WLTP
CO2 emissions 136 g/km NEDC equivalent
Kerb weight 1,262kg
Towing capacity N/A
Luggage capacity 311 litres
NCAP rating 5 stars
Base price £20,700
Price as tested £24,775
Company website www.ford.co.uk/cars/new-fiesta/

** included in optional Performance Pack

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