Hot Hatch made Hotter: Ford Fiesta ST

Words by Matt de Prez @mattdeprez
Photography by Rowan Cullen @rowancullen

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It’s not often that a car comes along that is truly great. Sure, there are a lot of very good, very capable and very expensive cars out there but few manage to achieve engineering excellence and still retain the character that makes you fall in love.

The Fiesta ST could very well be one of these cars. Ford has managed to dial in go-kart like handling that inspires confidence in even the most amateur drivers. The steering is weighted perfectly and the ST darts into corners with supreme agility. The suspension setup is firm, yet the ST manages to glide over bumps in a somewhat dignified manner.

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It is actually a rather refined car, once you join the motorway it settles down and cruises in a grown up manner that is a far cry from the childish hooning that it encouraged moments earlier.

Under the bonnet is a 1.6 litre turbocharged engine. It develops 180BHP and 214lb ft of torque. These figures may not win any points in a game of top trumps but the ST utilizes its power very well. The six-speed manual gearbox transmits a healthy dose of torque to the front wheels from low down in the rev range – thanks to minimal turbo lag – and makes swapping cogs a pleasure.

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Acceleration from 0-60MPH takes 6.9 seconds and the ST can max out at 139MPH. Despite having a power deficit over the Corsa VXR and Clio Sport 200, the ST manages to keep pace in a straight line. The real party trick is the way it handles corners, an electronically simulated LSD means you can utilize all of the power all of the time and the ST wipes the floor with rivals on the twisties.

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It’s a difficult car to fault and the ST is not only reasonably priced but also delivers a respectable 47.9MPG and low emissions of 138g/km. I can only criticize the interior, which seemed rather futuristic when the mk7 fiesta was launched. Unfortunately it now looks dated and the plastics seem, dare I say, low-rent. The infotainment system is awkwardly mounted and even more awkward to operate. Rivals are offering integrated touchscreen systems that are much neater. Of course you could just adorn it with aftermarket gauges because… Racecar.

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If you are in the market for a Fiesta ST, or already own one, but can’t bear the modest power figures; Ford will fit a Mountune performance kit which increases power to 212BHP for £599. There is also the 197BHP limited edition ST200. For some owners, even that is not enough power. The car you see featured here has a staggering 330BHP and 320lb ft of the good stuff.

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To put this into perspective, this little city car is packing a 63BHP/Tonne advantage over the Focus RS. Extracting this much power from a 1.6 litre engine is a tall order. The engine internals have been forged, the exhaust and intake systems upgraded, a larger intercooler is fitted and the turbo has been replaced with a Garret GTX2527R. The exhaust manifold has also been changed along with tweaks to the ECU programming. To complete the package, and harness the extra pulling power, the brakes and suspension needed to be upgraded.

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This car demonstrates the extremes to which the plucky fiesta can be exposed. The ecoboost engine is a strong unit and the chassis handles the extra power with ease. In standard form the Fiesta leaves you wanting no more but this car proves just how far it is willing to go.

 

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