You can’t have a Fiesta without an ‘ST’ in it and Ford New Zealand’s new hot hatch proves this point beyond any doubt.
Now we’re not saying that the third-generation Fiesta ST (Sports Technologies) has big boots to fill BUT… First unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show in 2004, the Fiesta ST burst its way onto the supermini performance hatch landscape with a hiss and a roar. Boasting a 2L Duratec engine complete with 150kW of power and a top speed of just under 130mph, this was a hatchback to rival the hottest out there.
The second-generation ST entered the market in 2013 to critical acclaim. Showcasing a 1.6-litre EcoBoost engine that developed 180 bhp (134kW) with 240Nm of torque, meaning that this ST could lunch from 0-100 km/h in under 7 seconds and reach a top speed of around 220 kph. Plus it had an overboost function that meant that for periods up to 15 seconds, the ST could develop 147kW!!
So what of the third-generation, I hear you ask? Well first of all, it comes with a 3-Cylinder engine, no wait, before you start rolling your eyes, hear me out. It’s Ford’s 1.5-litre EcoBoost petrol engine and it’s the first three-cylinder engine ever to power a Ford Performance model. It delivers 147kW@6000rpm (so the same as the Mk2 in overboost) and offers torque of 290Nm from 1600-4000rpm – yes 50Nm more than ever before.
All you really need to know is that it’s faster, more responsive and pulls in all gears but for the geeks out there, it has an aluminium block and head construction and the three-cylinder architecture delivers naturally high torque at low rpm. It has high-pressure injection with a combination of port and direct fuel injection technology to deliver power and responsiveness with fuel efficiency, plus twin-independent variable cam timing and a new turbocharger that has an optimised turbine design to build boost pressure faster, minimizing lag for more responsive acceleration.
It also features an integrated exhaust manifold that improves efficiency by helping the engine reach optimal temperatures faster and it delivers torque more rapidly by minimising the distance exhaust gasses travel between cylinders and the turbocharger, oh and it has an active exhaust valve that amplifies the unique and sporty sound of the three-pot engine.
Enough about the engine, it also has, drum-roll please, a 6-speed MANUAL gearbox that’s tighter than my Scottish dad’s hand on his wallet. The gait is close and the gear-selection is ace. Strapped to this most excellent powertrain is a Quaife Mechanical Limited-Slip Differential (LSD) which sends everything to the 18-inch alloy wheels that come complete with very grippy 205/40 Michelin Pilot Super Sport tyres.
On the subject of grip, the new Fiesta ST sticks to the tarmac like velcro. Aside from the LSD, the ST has enhanced Torque Vectoring Control technology, force vectoring springs to improve the stability, agility and responsiveness of the Fiesta ST’s twist-beam rear suspension, self-adjusting dampers and is the first compact hot-hatchback to benefit from the technology that uses non-uniform, non-interchangeable, directionally-wound springs to apply vectoring forces to the rear suspension. In short, it sticks to the road like smelly stuff to a blanket (if you know what I mean).
My review model was the 5-door, a first for good ol’ NZ. It offers more ways in than the 3-door (funny that) and more space once inside, seating 4 in comfort, 5 at a squeeze. LED headlights (although I think mine were Halogen) and plenty of spoilers, air curtains and splitters to underline its sporty appeal – plus mine came in Performance Blue.
The interior has not only been spruced up with things like Recaro seats and a flat-bottomed wheel but it also now comes with a seemingly endless supply of tech beginning with the Sync 3 and reverse camera on the 8-inch infotainment screen and going on to embrace much of the driver and safety aids enjoyed by modern-day vehicles.
Then there’s the way it drives. Simply put, it’s brilliant. It’s sure-footed into the corners and ‘foot-flat down’ out. It’s nimble and responsive and the chassis is unyielding. The steering is ultra-quick and the gearbox is glorious. It spins the wheels in first and second and continues to pull in 6th, even at lower revs. It’s fun in normal and then funnerer in Sport and Track. It has launch control and a three-stage adjustable ESC for more and more rear-end freedom. It can, of course, be passive, but really why would you?
ST the third has improved the Fiesta hot-hatch in soo many ways. Looks, technology, safety and unadulterated FUN – all I have to say is ‘try topping this one FORD!’