Here at MotorWeek, we’re always looking for cheap thrills…performance wise that is…and while they have become somewhat more readily available of late, many options are still a little too watered down for our tastes. That brings us to the Ford Fiesta ST. Is America ready for a world class high performance subcompact from Ford? Well, we sure are!
Performance oriented versions of existing cars are nothing new and usually come with a 20 or 30% boost in power. Well how about 65%? That’s what we’re talking about here in the 2014 Ford Fiesta ST.
Its 1.6–liter turbo I4 sees numbers climb from 120–horsepower and 112 lb-ft. of torque to 197 and 202 respectively! And while those aren’t supercar high, they are certainly high enough for a good time. And, with the engine’s instant response, the numbers feel even higher.
Just about everything has been major upgraded here, including suspension, brakes, and steering.
The humble Fiesta was already a solid handler for a bargain basement subcompact, but now it’s gone full on Go-Kart. With a firm feel that’s more like a mid-size sport sedan than pocket rocket.
We’re talking true point and shoot fun here! This car yearns for you to get on it and stay on it. It even has a very pleasing exhaust note, inside the cabin, thanks to a sound symposer; powerful, but not too loud at all.
Off the line, torque steer is surprisingly minimal, despite big hits from the turbo, accompanied by some cool waste gate noise that put smiles on our faces. A strong clutch aids the launch, and you hit 60 in 7.1–seconds. Again, nothing for purveyors of exotic cars to lose sleep over, but in this little car it mean just plain fun, as you grin your way to the end of the ¼-mile in 15.3–seconds at 93 miles-per-hour. The shifter is fast and direct.
The ST…Sport Technologies…engineers added Torque Vectoring Control, but weren’t able to dial quite all of the understeer out. But just about, as it sticks really well and feels exceptionally neutral for a front-driver, with very little roll.
The interior is spiffed up with aluminum trim, enhanced gauge cluster, and well bolstered Recaro seats. Ford’s MyFord Touch screen is here as well, and most found words on the display too small for easy use, and ended up using voice command.
Rear seats are more spacious than many other pocket hot rods, and you can fold them down to expand the 10.1 cubic foot cargo bay to make the ST a purposeful hauler in more ways than one.
The last Sport Technologies effort we sampled was the Focus ST, and as much as we loved that, the Fiesta ST has the same amount of awesomeness in a smaller and lighter package. It’s just simple, pure, driving fun. Sure a Corvette can beat it in every performance category, but is it more enjoyable? Well that’s doubtful.
So yes, the Fiesta ST is a lovely piece of work and we liked just about everything about how it goes. But, many of our staff were less enamored with the exterior design.
The 5-door hatch-only ST is definitely tricked out, though; sharp and evil looking from most angles. But, with way too much grille up front; like a stupid grin showing way too many teeth. Poor rear visibility from the thick C-pillars didn’t help either. And some thought the brake calipers would benefit from some bright paint to sport-en the look up even more.
But cosmetics aside, this is the most pure joy we’ve ever extracted from a front-wheel-drive car. All while doing fine on gas. Government Fuel Economy Ratings are 26-City, 35-Highway, and 29–Combined. We fit right in a 29.1 miles-per-gallon of Regular.
And all for an amazingly low price starting at $22,225. High performance on a budget, that’s what a lot of us are looking for, and the 2014 Ford Fiesta ST delivers that best.
So much so we delivered it our Drivers’ Choice Award as Best Subcompact of the year. We love it!
Along with the Focus ST, Ford has got quite a great thing going and should really promote the ST lineup more, as they could be real halos for the brand. We think that most Americans are well beyond the rear-drive only bias when it comes to performance cars. And while putting more spunk into an existing model is not a new idea, this one is as well executed as they come.
Engine: 1.6–liter turbo I4
Torque: 202 lb-ft.
0-60 mph: 7.1 seconds
1/4 mile: 15.3 seconds @ 93 mph
EPA: 26 mpg city/ 35 mpg highway