Ford Fiesta ST hatchback (2013-2017)
"The Ford Fiesta ST has become renowned as one the best hot hatchbacks ever. It ticks all the boxes, being as practical and affordable as it is fast and fun to drive"
- Handsome, subtle styling
- Excellent value for money
- Fantastic fun to drive
- Ride is somewhat firm
- Suspect interior quality
- Only available with three doors
The Fiesta ST is the hot hatchback version of the standard Ford Fiesta, a supermini that’s consistently at the top of the UK’s bestselling cars list. By adding some extra power and tweaked parts for improved cornering, Ford made a car that built on the impressive driving dynamics of the car in standard form. The result is a sporty hatchback that’s lots of fun to drive.
The sixth-generation of Ford Fiesta ST is now a discontinued model, but it’s still a great car nonetheless. Its rivals include the SEAT Ibiza Cupra, Volkwagen Polo GTI, Vauxhall Corsa VXR and Renault Clio RS, but in truth the ST is the best of the bunch when it comes to pure enjoyment – with excellent grip and engaging, accurate steering, it is a joy to drive enthusiastically.
The last Mk6 Fiesta ST rolled off the production line in 2017. It uses a 180bhp 1.6-litre, four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine, which results in a 0-62mph time of 6.9 seconds and a top speed of 139mph. While this straight-line speed makes the ST a very competent car on the motorway, pure speed is not all it has to offer; it’s real appeal lies in its performance when the road gets twisty.
It’s on a challenging road where the ST truly shines, displaying agile, engaging handling that gives you the confidence to push harder, making it a faster ‘point-to-point’ car than many alternatives, including those with more power. While the car is front rather than four-wheel drive, it generates so much grip that you can safely place a huge amount of faith in it, and the communicative steering only adds to that feeling of security, as well as making the ST a hugely fun car to drive.
The car resists lean in corners thanks to a firm suspension setup but this does result in an occasionally hard ride that means the ST isn’t the most comfortable car. The ride is made worse by the car’s sporty low-profile tyres, which offer little in the way of shock-absorption when you drive over potholes or cracks in the road surface.
This is fairly typical of this kind of car, though, and the Fiesta isn’t notably bumpier than the Vauxhall Corsa VXR. Those after smoothness would be better served by the Volkswagen Polo GTI, but most will feel the ST’s firm ride an acceptable price to pay for driving fun.
Unlike some compact hot hatchbacks, the Fiesta ST was offered in three and five-door body styles, which means it really can mirror the day-to-day practicality of the popular supermini it’s based on. Five-door STs offer far easier access to the rear seats – ideal if you have small children to carry. The boot is a little disappointing at 290 litres, though – some rivals offer a little more luggage space.
Three trim levels were available, with ST-1 as the entry-level model. All are well equipped – roughly equivalent to a Ford Fiesta Titanium but with Recaro sports seats, a special ST design bodykit and 17-inch alloy wheels. ST-2 added heated seats, rear privacy glass and a Sony stereo with DAB radio, while ST-3 boasts sat nav, cruise-control and automatic climate control.
The Ford Fiesta enjoys a trusted reputation among UK owners, but this seems to be despite personal experiences, not because of them. It finished an unremarkable 50th out of 75 cars in our 2017 Driver Power satisfaction survey, with ratings for running costs, practicality, comfort and exterior quality all below average. Reliability wasn’t rated highly, either.
This all points to this generation of Fiesta being a little long-in-the-tooth when production ended, but the replacement Mk7 should be an even better all-rounder. Enthusiasts can rejoice, too – the next Fiesta ST will be more powerful and promises an even sharper drive.