Review: Ford Fiesta ST (2018)
Performance car bargain. Great to drive. Interior better than predecessor.
Ford Fiesta ST (2018): At A Glance
- New prices start from £19,495
- Insurance Group 19
- On average it achieves 81% of the official MPG figure
The Ford Fiesta ST has had the more attainable hot hatch market sewn up in recent years. The last generation model is sure to go down in history as one of the best fast Fords ever sold, putting a huge amount of pressure on the firm not to get things very wrong with its successor.
There was an era when the hot hatch was a rite of passage for young drivers. As soon as they could afford the insurance, they’d chop in their old bangers for something that looked like a sensible hatchback but featured a large, naturally-aspirated engine under the bonnet.
But when you think of hot hatches these days, cars like the turbocharged Honda Civic Type R and Ford Focus RS probably spring to mind. These are now extremely powerful with more than 300PS. But they’re also pricey, costing more than £30,000 and feel like the next level over traditional, easy-to-fling-about hot hatches.
But this Fiesta ST actually uses a smaller engine. Powered by a downsized, three-cylinder turbo unit - a 1.5-litre petrol producing 200PS to be precise - enthusiasts were a tad concerned when it was first announced. Surely a diddy little three-cylinder engine couldn’t provide the same amount of fun as the previous four-cylinder engine?
Well, as you lift off the accelerator in sport mode (selectable drive modes are available on the Fiesta ST for the first time) and the exhaust pops on overrun, any doubt about the Fiesta’s fun factor are soon put to one side. But it’s not just this party piece that makes the latest Fiesta ST so desirable.
It feels genuinely quick. 200PS in a car this size is enough to reach 62mph in 6.5 seconds, while the handling is nothing short of superb. The steering - which errs marginally on the side of skittish - is quick to wind from lock to lock, providing bundles of feedback in the process. The driving position from the standard Recaro seats is good - not as high up as the previous model, fortunately - and the car begs you to drive it hard.
But those selectable drive modes mean the Fiesta ST will also happily sit on the motorway or whizz around town should you wish. It’s a versatile car, one that can comfortably be driven every day without costing the earth yet also punch well above its weight in terms of driving pleasure when the mood takes you.
Although the new model isn’t visually hugely different from its predecessor, the interior is a huge step up. Although it stops short of being as premium as a MINI, it’s easy to get comfortable and the 8.0-inch infotainment screen is easy to use.
Ford could so have so easily misjudged the Fiesta ST but, fortunately, it hasn’t. It’s taken the already brilliant Fiesta hatchback and given it all you could ask for from a hot hatch costing less than £20,000. It’s an absolute joy to drive, but also isn’t a compromise in other areas. The interior’s pretty good, and the running costs won’t ruin you.
What does a Ford Fiesta ST (2018) cost?
Ford Fiesta ST (2018): What's It Like Inside?
Ford interiors have fallen short of rivals in recent years, but the latest Focus and Fiesta mark a significant improvement for a brand previously associated with drab materials, tiny multimedia displays and too many buttons.
That improvement extends to the Fiesta ST, too. The Recaro bucket seats (standard on all ST models) look the part and will hold you in place during the most aggressive driving, while also proving surprisingly comfortable on longer journeys. You even set relatively low - gone is the ‘sitting on top of the car’ issue that’s plagued Ford hot hatches for the last 20 years or so.
Buyers get a choice of three- or five-door body styles. It’s the former we’ve tested here and, in our opinion, it looks better - although, obviously, you’ll want the five-door if you’re expecting to use the rear seats regularly.
There’s a reasonable amount of space in the back, although it would be a struggle fitting four tall adults in the Fiesta in comfort. Boot space is fine, although access is slightly restricted by the high load lip. Dropping the rear seats creates more space, but they don’t fold entirely flat.
Buyers get a choice of three ST trim levels, badged the ST-1, ST-2 and ST-3. While the former will encourage buyers into showrooms with its £18,995 price tag, many buyers will be tempted into the higher end models which, after all, won’t cost a lot more in monthly payment terms.
It’s worth upgrading to the ST-2 just for the eight-inch touchscreen infotainment system (The ST-1 uses a 6.5-inch screen), which provides access to a premium B&O sound system. If you want navigation, you’ll need to choose the top-spec ST-3 but all models comes with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
Although not everyone will appreciate the infotainment screen’s ‘stuck on the dash’ appearance, it’s an easy system to use with old-fashioned buttons should you wish to change songs or adjust the volume without seeking through menus.
Specifications (from launch)
The Fiesta ST starts at £18,995 in ST-1 trim, which features selectable drive modes, a flat-bottomed steering wheel, Recaro seats and ST sports suspension as standard. All Fiesta ST models are also equipped with electric, heated door mirrors, Ford’s SYNC3 DAB radio with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability, cruise control, and NCAP Pack, which includes Lane-Keeping Alert and speed limiter.
The ST-2, which starts from £19,995 in three-door guise and £20,645 for the five-door, adds climate control, heated Recaro front seats and blue seatbelts, B&O PLAY premium sound system and Ford SYNC3 DAB radio with a larger eight-inch touchscreen as standard.
ST-3 gains 18-inch alloy wheels and red brake calipers (£350 and £75 options, respectively, on ST-2 models), navigation, automatic rain-sensing wipers, auto-dimming rear view mirror and driver assistance features including Traffic Sign Recognition, auto high beam and driver alert. The three-door ST-3 is priced from £21,495 while the five-door model starts from £22,145.
Child seats that fit a Ford Fiesta ST (2018)Our unique Car Seat Chooser shows you which child car seats will fit this car and which seat positions that they will fit, so that you don't have to check every car seat manufacturer's website for compatibility.
What's the Ford Fiesta ST (2018) like to drive?
- Readers report Real MPG to be between 30–45 mpg
Even the surliest of drivers will struggle not to crack a smile when behind the wheel of the new Fiesta ST. In sport mode it pops and bangs like a proper sports car, encouraging you to string out all the revs the little 1.5-litre engine has to offer. It's all a bit childish, but you don't buy a Fiesta ST to tell the world you're embracing adulthood.
It's surprising how keen the turbocharged petrol engine is to rev and the Fiesta ST feels genuinely quick. There are no caveats here, it’s a properly fast little hot hatch. Acceleration from 0-62mph in 6.5 seconds means overtaking is a breeze and - should you feel the need to drop a gear - the six-speed manual gearbox is precise and satisfying to use.
Feedback through the meaty steering wheel is plentiful, while the handling is wonderfully direct. It will build your confidence no end. In truth, there’s probably no front-wheel-drive car better suited to British B-roads.
A power output of 200PS seems just right, with no signs of the front wheels struggling unless you go for a proper clutch-dumping getaway. Incidentally, if that’s your thing, there’s a launch control system available as part of the £850 performance pack.
When you’re not hustling down a B-road like a Top Gear reject, the Fiesta ST is just as good as the regular model at going about daily life. The ST’s trick suspension isn’t as jarring as the old model’s, although there’s no denying it’s on the firm side, even in comfort mode.
While the new Fiesta ST has already lost a cylinder compared to the old model, it will go a step further - cutting fuel to one of the cylinders during coasting. You won’t be able to tell, but it contributes towards the ST’s impressive 47.1mpg fuel economy figure. Thrashing it will clearly have an impact on that, but the Fiesta should prove to be relatively cheap to run day-to-day.
|1.5T EcoBoost 200||47 mpg||6.5 s||136 g/km|
Real MPG average for a Ford Fiesta ST (2018)
Real MPG was created following thousands of readers telling us that their cars could not match the official figures.
Real MPG gives real world data from drivers like you to show how much fuel a vehicle really uses.
Diesel or petrol? If you're unsure whether to go for a petrol or diesel (or even an electric model if it's available), then you need our Petrol or Diesel? calculator. It does the maths on petrols, diesels and electric cars to show which is best suited to you.
What have we been asked about the Ford Fiesta ST (2018)?
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