Tuesday 20th April 2021
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Driven: Ford Fiesta ST-3 Performance Pack. Image by Ford UK.

Driven: Ford Fiesta ST-3 Performance Pack
One week with the latest Ford Fiesta ST back on home turf and the verdictís simple: Best. Hot. Supermini. EVAH!

 



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Ford Fiesta ST-3 Performance Pack

5 5 5 5 5

Good points: the handling, the engine, the refinement, the looks, the interior

Not so good: if you tick every option box, it costs £25,000+... but it's well worth it

Key Facts

Model tested: Ford Fiesta ST-3 Performance Pack (three-door)
Price: Fiesta ST from £20,070 (ST-2); ST-3 from £22,445, car as tested £25,520
Engine: 1.5-litre turbocharged three-cylinder petrol
Transmission: six-speed manual, front-wheel drive with Quaife limited-slip differential
Body style: three-door hot hatch
CO2 emissions: 136g/km (VED Band 131-150: £210 in year one, then £145 annually thereafter)
Combined economy: 40.4mpg
Top speed: 144mph
0-62mph: 6.5 seconds
Power: 200hp at 6,000rpm
Torque: 290Nm at 1,600-4,000rpm
Boot space: 311-1,093 litres

Our view:

One week, 434.9 miles, spread across ten hours and 13 minutes of glorious motoring. A-roads, B-roads, motorways, town driving, country thrashing, long-distance cruising; the Silver Fox (£750) Ford Fiesta ST-3 with the optional Performance Pack (£925, including a Quaife limited-slip differential, Launch Control and Performance Shift lights) did it all. And it convinced us (well, me, more specifically) that it is easily the best hot hatch in the current supermini segment, it's possibly the best supermini hot hatch of all time, and it's certainly the vehicle you'd pick if you wanted a brand-new hatchback of any shape and size with a punchy engine - notably, sitting on that list of vanquished 'foes' is its own big brother, the 280hp Focus ST.

Following an exultant first drive of the hot Fiesta overseas in the early summer of 2018, I was desperate to get more time in the potent three-cylinder model. And I wasn't disappointed in the slightest. Sure, there are minor foibles with the ST-3: the steering has too much of a self-centring effect; the ride quality, while vastly improved on its bouncy-bouncy predecessor, was nevertheless firmer and less plush in the UK than I remember it being in the south of France; and starting with an ST-3 and then layering on an Exclusive Colour like the Silver Fox, the Performance Pack, full LED headlamps (£600), BLIS with Cross-Traffic Alert (£350) and the B&O Play Premium Sound System (£450) resulted in a Fiesta rocking a £25,520 price tag.

And I would counter that last point with this observation: that's peanuts for a car as wonderfully, thrillingly, majestically engineered as this. I wouldn't drop a single one of those options and I'd pay the best part of 26 large for a Ford Fiesta without a second's hesitation, if I could. Because this thing is just terrific. Its handling is near-perfection, for a short-wheelbase front-driver, with that oh-so-communicative rear axle being truly astounding. You can almost back it into corners on a trailing throttle, you can have it three-wheeling its way around roundabouts and hairpins to your heart's content, you can dissect any given challenging road in a fury of diff-powered traction and innate chassis balance so that you're going easily as fast in the Fiesta as you would be in things three times its optioned-up price. And you'll be having a ton more fun into the bargain, as well.

Yet it's ergonomically correct. Its interior is actually really nicely done, with cracking Recaro part-leather seats sitting at just the right height and just the right position for the chunky little flat-bottomed steering wheel and the classy sports pedals. The SYNC 3 infotainment on an eight-inch touchscreen is light years ahead of previous Ford SYNC set-ups, in terms of its graphical representations and its ease of use. And, with cruise control, heating for both the driver's seat and the steering wheel, and that epic B&O sound system on, the ST munches up motorway miles with aplomb; its ST Sports suspension comes into its own at 70mph, so that a 300-mile return trip to Heathrow airport was a pleasure, not a back-breaking chore. Crikey, with its fabulous-sounding, free-revving and smooth-as-silk three-cylinder engine dropping its third pot on the jag down the A46, M1 and M25, it even returned 41.9mpg towards an overall weekly average of 35.8mpg; yet another area where it thoroughly embarrassed the Vauxhall Corsa GSi that - poor, unfortunate thing that it was - just so happened to precede (and slightly overlap) the Ford in my weekly test-car rota.

The Ford Fiesta ST is therefore utterly marvellous. There is nothing, save for the i30 N Performance, this side of 30 grand that is better, more rewarding, more fun to drive and, truth be told, more complete than this. It is exactly how you do a hot hatchback in an age of frenzied downsizing, the proliferation of forced induction and ever-growing public sentiment that classifies speeding and driving pleasure as sins akin to robbery and murder. It is tremendous. Thoroughly tremendous. I could not adore it more if I tried. And you would too, if you drove one, so get out there and buy the blinding Fiesta ST, quick-sharp!

Alternatives:

Peugeot 208 GTi by Peugeot Sport: we're on supermini 'hot-hatch changeover' at the moment. The 208 is about to be replaced so the PS is already an obsolete car, but it's the nearest rapid B-segment motor to the Fiesta in terms of ability.

Toyota Yaris GRMN: another one that's no longer available, the supercharged Yaris GRMN is brilliant fun when you're 'on it' but perhaps not quite so well-rounded as the Fiesta. It was super-rare, though. And quite expensive, too.

Volkswagen Polo GTI: as good as the Mk6-based current Polo GTI is, this is a familiar story: Fiesta ST squashes the Volkswagen under its boot and then smears its carcass all over the road with its superiority in nearly every regard, save interior finishing.


Matt Robinson - 21 Mar 2019









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2019 Ford Fiesta ST UK test. Image by Ford UK.2019 Ford Fiesta ST UK test. Image by Ford UK.2019 Ford Fiesta ST UK test. Image by Ford UK.2019 Ford Fiesta ST UK test. Image by Ford UK.2019 Ford Fiesta ST UK test. Image by Ford UK.

2019 Ford Fiesta ST UK test. Image by Ford UK.2019 Ford Fiesta ST UK test. Image by Ford UK.2019 Ford Fiesta ST UK test. Image by Ford UK.2019 Ford Fiesta ST UK test. Image by Ford UK.2019 Ford Fiesta ST UK test. Image by Ford UK.








 

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