New 2018 Ford Fiesta ST has 197bhp and track mode

2018 Ford Fiesta ST has a turbocharged 1.5-litre petrol with three cylinders and 197bhp

The 2018 Ford Fiesta ST has a smaller 1.5-litre engine with three cylinders instead of four, but it still manages to be more powerful and faster than its lauded hot-hatch predecessor.

Using advanced turbocharging technology, Ford has managed to squeeze 197bhp from the next-generation Fiesta ST’s new engine, getting the car from 0-62mph in 6.7 seconds.

Like all the best hot hatchbacks, the Fiesta ST doesn’t dispense entirely with efficiency, so one of the engine’s cylinders can temporarily shut down to improve fuel efficiency by 11%. The change occurs when the engine isn’t at full power and deactivation takes just 14 milliseconds.

Technology will play a much bigger role in the new Fiesta ST; there’ll be three different driving modes called Normal, Sport and Track. Each will adjust the character of the engine, steering, exhaust and traction control. A limited-slip differential will be offered as an option, combining with Ford’s torque-vectoring technology to give buyers the chance to maximise the amount of grip available in corners. Launch-control software will also be optional.

Track mode will alter the point where the electronic stability control intervenes during extreme manoeuvres and turn the traction control off so the engine’s power is always available. Not only that, but the torque-vectoring system can control the inside wheels as you take a corner, applying the brakes to pull the car around the bend and reduce the likelihood of running wide.

The new Fiesta ST's track is significantly wider than the previous model’s and torsional rigidity has also been increased. While this should offer improvements to the car's handling relative to the previous model, a new suspension setup should also make the car's ride more compliant when the driver isn't looking for maximum performance.

A passenger ride in the new car showed that the changes have certainly made a difference; the level of grip on offer is tangibly higher and the car feels very alert and agile during changes of direction. Our impression was that the new Fiesta ST will be just as fun to drive as the old one, but that its dynamic ability is now maintained at even higher speeds than before. The car's active exhaust system adds pops and bangs to the Fiesta ST soundtrack when in the Sport and Track driving modes.

New Ford Fiesta ST: design

While the outgoing Ford Fiesta ST was launched only as a three-door, a five-door joined the line-up later, and the 2018 model will continue to offer a choice of sporty or more practical body styles. It will be easy to distinguish the ST from the regular model, thanks to new 18-inch alloy wheels and red brake calipers. There’s also a racy mesh grille and a full bodykit with side skirts, unique bumpers and a large roof spoiler.

Dashboard & interior

The new Fiesta ST may look evolutionary from the outside, but inside things have taken a more radical turn. Gone are the old car’s myriad buttons and switches, replaced by Ford’s SYNC 3 eight-inch touchscreen, which recognises pinch-to-zoom gestures.

Apple CarPlay and Android Auto feature, as does a voice-recognition system, which promises to understand conversational commands. It’s good to see physical buttons for the heating and air-conditioning remain though, as operating these systems via a touchscreen can be frustrating on the move.

As noted above, the car will be available in three and five-door form from launch. Both models will have 17-inch alloy wheels as standard, with 18-inch alternatives available as an option.

Buyers will be able to choose from a total of seven paint colours, including white, red, blue, black and grey. The entry-level spec will be ST-1, the mid-range model will be called the ST-2 and the range-topping trim will be known as ST-3.

A Bang & Olufsen PLAY stereo will be available as an option, as well as safety systems such as lane-keeping assistance and traffic-sign recognition.

Ford promises “more personalisation options than ever before”, with a variety of designs for the gear lever gaiter, steering wheel, door handles and dashboard trim inserts. A flat-bottomed steering wheel, heavily bolstered Recaro sports seats and an electronically-enhanced exhaust note should provide tactile, supportive and aural enhancements that are commensurate with the ST’s cornering capabilities and sense of sporting fun.

Price & on-sale date

The new Ford Fiesta ST will go on sale in spring of 2018. Prices are expected to start at around £19,000.

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