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Ford Fiesta ST hatchback - Engines, drive & performance

The Ford Fiesta ST lives up to its reputation; it’s both fast and great fun to drive

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4.3 out of 5

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4.0 out of 5

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Engines, drive & performance Rating

5.0 out of 5

​Fans of the previous Ford Fiesta ST won’t be disappointed with the latest model, despite its numerous mechanical changes; this is a hot hatch that does everything right. Its smaller engine lacks the character of the four-cylinder found in its predecessor, but there’s still more than enough low-down punch, an eagerness to rev and a suitably sporty exhaust note. Most rivals offer a more traditional four-cylinder engine, but those looking for great performance will not be left wanting by the Ford’s three-cylinder – which itself is lighter and therefore helps towards a better-handling machine.

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Add the optional Performance Pack (costing around £900) and you’ll benefit from a limited-slip differential (LSD) made by specialist company Quaife; this helps the ST put its power down more effectively, limiting excessive wheelspin when exiting corners. Launch control also comes as part of the pack, making fast getaways a breeze, along with shift lights to let you know when to change gear on track for maximum performance.

Ford Fiesta ST petrol engine

The Ford Fiesta ST is powered by a 1.5-litre EcoBoost petrol engine with three cylinders, one turbocharger and plenty of power - 197bhp, plus extra low-down power when the standard overboost feature kicks in. The 0-62mph sprint takes 6.5 seconds and the car’s top speed is 144mph, while the Hyundai i20 N has 201bhp and takes 6.2 seconds to cover the benchmark sprint. The engine feels strong, producing a suitably rorty exhaust note that’s helped along by Ford’s Electronic Sound Enhancement. This uses the car’s stereo to further improve the sound of the engine inside the car. Select Sport or Track modes and the car’s exhaust will also pop and crackle when you lift off the accelerator.

The only real drawback of the car’s switchable modes is the location of the switchgear, which is located low down by the gearstick. This can make cycling through the various modes a bit fiddly on the move but it does become easier with practice.

The previous Fiesta ST was more keen to rev to its redline, whereas the new model’s three-cylinder doesn’t feel like it needs to be revved past 5,500rpm – something that owners of the old car might miss. However, keen drivers will enjoy the ST’s delightful short-shift six-speed gearbox, which comes complete with a 'flat-shift' feature. Simply keep your right foot flat to the floor on the accelerator pedal and change gear using the clutch as usual; the car will automatically hold the engine on a limiter between gearchanges. However in our experience the result doesn’t feel too kind to the clutch, so we doubt most owners will use it in practice.

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