Although the new Ford Fiesta ST has been with us since spring, it still feels worthwhile to talk about the hothatch and its pocket-rocket capabilities.
And also because I’ve just bought one and feel compelled to
show off discuss it.
For the last two years I’ve had a 2007 Mini Cooper which I have vastly enjoyed bombing around in, but with its part ex value dropping by the mile, I felt the time was right to send it off for pastures new. Stella, as it was affectionately known, was to be replaced.
But what to replace Stella with?
I feel that, at 25, I’m still eligible to be at the wheel of a nippy little hatchback, albeit one more potent than the Mini, and at heart I really wanted a proper hothatch.
I’ve always had an affinity for the modern Fiat 500 Abarth and had been considering one for some time. The Abarth ticks all the hothatch boxes: lairy, noisy, silly and beyond anything, downright fun. I wanted one so badly that I began making some calls to dealers that had examples for sale, but one by one, each had to notify me that they’d literally been snapped up as soon as they’d been placed on the forecourt.
So, with no other 500 Abarths available in the area in the trim that I was after, I started weighing up how I could possibly afford a brand new Fiesta ST, the car I wanted above the plucky Fiat, but never thought I’d be able to attain one on a financial level. After taking one for a test drive (and immediately falling in love), some deals regarding PCP finance were discussed, and unbelievably I walked out having put my name down on an incoming model in my preferred colour and in one hell of a spec.
Armed with built-in sat nav, the Style Pack (illuminated door sills, special 17” alloys and red brake callipers), Sony DAB stereo, heated Recaro sports seats and bodywork in glorious Spirit Blue, my Fiesta ST was looking promising.
This Saturday morning just gone, the car was ready and waiting. I’d already picked a route close to the Stoneacre dealership I’d got the car from (York Road, Doncaster) to test the Fiesta’s much praised driving dynamics, and it didn’t disappoint.
My immediate reaction to the car is how well weighted the steering feels; it offers just the right amount of resistance and gives you confidence in the corners, despite being the dreaded electric power steering.
Another early observation was the ride. Admittedly, the suspension is bordering on crashy at low speeds – something which has been noted by most that have driven it – but once up to speed, the Fiesta feels composed and handles the corners with conviction as a result.
The engine is a true delight, the 1.6-litre EcoBoost revving happily at will thanks to its torquey nature, something which almost dominates the driving experience, but allows you to have power available at all time, no matter which gear you’re in. Thanks to the combination of a raspy sports exhaust and Ford’s Sound Symposer that feeds engine noise into the cabin, there is a nice growl when revving over 3,000rpm. Operating the car with the sports pedals is also a joy, with the gas pedal relatively firm to make controlling the acceleration easy, whilst the brake has little travel and stops efficiently thanks to the car being the first Fiesta with discs on all four wheels.
Inside, the ST is very similar to a regular high-spec Fiesta, but the optional Style Pack’s illuminated sills give the cabin a classier feel which are also coupled with mood lighting to give a very pleasant night-time experience. The heated Recaro sports seats (standard on the ST-2) might take some getting used to for some, but I personally love them and they really hug you in the corners when going in with speed. One particular highlight is the leather-bound steering wheel which just feels perfect in your hands.
Like all three-door Fiestas, the ST is great for room up front, but the Recaro seats do sacrifice some space in the rear and I find myself in a similar situation I was in with the Mini and referring to the passenger area in the back as ‘occasional seating’. However, the boot is not affected and is very sizeable; a trip to the tip on just the second day with the keys was very easy work thanks to the volume available.
Although it’s very early days with the Fiesta ST, I’m very much smitten with the pocket-rocket and my old Mini is surprisingly in distant memory already. I’ve a feeling my petrol bills are about to escalate, but I can honestly say I’ve made the right choice in the hothatch market – although picking a car at the top of its class was hardly going to be risky. Here’s to many more glorious miles.