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Driven: 2023 Ford Fiesta ST. Image by Ford.

Driven: 2023 Ford Fiesta ST
Fordís fabled Fiesta ST has been discontinued, but the last hurrah was probably the best Fiesta ever made.


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Ford Fiesta ST

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The Ford Fiesta has finally breathed its last, with the last car rolling off the production line this month. But before the car that touched the lives of millions was killed off, Ford updated it with a new grille and fresh interior tech. And that didnít just stretch to the Active model we tested last year Ė the ST enjoyed the same upgrade. It was already a cracker, so have the updates served to make the final ST even better?

Test Car Specifications

Model: 2023 Ford Fiesta ST-3 1.5 EcoBoost
Price: £29,005 (as tested)
Engine: 1.5-litre turbocharged three-cylinder petrol
Transmission: six-speed manual, front-wheel drive
Power: 200hp
Torque: 320Nm
Emissions: 153g/km
Economy: 42.2mpg
0-62mph: 6.5 seconds
Top speed: 143mph
Boot space: 292 litres


Ford's changes to the Fiesta's bodywork are hardly wholesale, but there is a clear difference in the front grille, which now proudly bears the blue oval in the centre. As before, though, this ST version of the Fiesta comes with bigger wheels and an ST body kit, not to mention the honeycomb grille and the red brake calipers. At the back, meanwhile, there's a double tailpipe in the diffuser-style rear valance. And, of course, there's a paint palette that includes this striking green hue.


As with the exterior design, the ST's interior follows that of the standard Fiesta, albeit with some sporty upgrades. That means Ford has added a new digital instrument display, and there's an optional digital instrument display with a smart, clear screen and a handful of different configuration options. Perhaps it isn't the fanciest display, but it works impressively well. As does the optional Sync4 infotainment screen, perched in a 'floating' housing atop the dashboard. Again, it isn't necessarily the snazziest system on the market, but clarity and functionality trump all that, as does impressive smartphone integration. From a driver's point of view, it's a must-have, so it's a good job it's part of a reasonably priced option package. For just over £1,000, you get the two screens and a 10-speaker B&O sound system, and that represents pretty good value in our book.

As does the Fiesta's cabin quality. Perhaps the design is a bit old now, and maybe the materials aren't always the most upmarket, but it's ergonomically sound, and the way in which Ford has stitched the Fiesta's plastics together is impressive. ParticularlyAs is the quality of the ST upgrades, including the sporty pedals, the carbon trim on the dash and the Ford Performance seats trimmed in leather and microfibre.


In essence, the Fiesta's facelift has made no difference to the amount of space on board, and the ST model has done nothing to compromise that either. So there's plenty of room up front, and though the lack of adjustability in the head restraints might bother some, the seats offer plenty of adjustment for a spot-on driving position. Rear space, meanwhile, is imperfect, but no more or less cramped than in the standard Fiesta. The same goes for the boot, which measures 292 litres in total, and looks a bit small in comparison with other small hatchbacks. The Hyundai i20 N, for example, offers another 60 litres of capacity.


As before, the ST is powered by a 1.5-litre three-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine that churns out a healthy 200hp, all of which goes to the front wheels via a six-speed manual gearbox. That means 0-62mph takes 6.5 seconds, which puts the ST just slightly behind the bigger and more powerful VW Golf GTI in terms of pace. Itís a quick car, but thereís more to it than that.

First of all, thereís the gearbox. Ford has always done a good line in transmissions, and this is a doozy. Slick, well weighted and precise itís a joy to use, and it ensures changing gear never becomes a chore. Then thereís the engine note, which is suitably rorty and rasping without being too uncouth. Doubtless some customers will want to fit some aftermarket dustbin in place of the standard tailpipes, but thereís no need Ė Ford has got it just right.

And then thereís the economy. Hot hatches arenít usually that efficient, but the Fiesta ST will return more than 40mpg without difficulty, particularly on longer runs. Of course, if you like to use all of its performance, it wonít do so well, but a long motorway journey will leave your wallet little lighter than it would be had you stuck with a 1.0-litre Fiesta.

Ride & Handling

The Ford Fiesta has always been one of the best superminis on the market, and the ST model is even better to drive. In every aspect, itís absolutely brilliant. The steering offers an epic mixture of feel and precision, and the body control is excellent. Sure, the height of the car means it rolls a bit, but with bags of grip and those body-hugging seats, the car dances through corners with the sort of agility normally reserved for sports cars. Itís awesome.

Of course, that handling means the ride isnít always perfect Ė thereís a definite stiffness to the suspension and those low-profile tyres donít have a whole lot of give Ė but itís tolerable. On a motorway, youíd hardly notice the lack of compliance, and while the low-speed ride is worse, it isnít bone-shaking. This is a car that still works as an everyday runabout.


The ST-3 cost a mere £27,380, which made it astonishingly good value. Yes, it's marginally more expensive than the equally fabulous Hyundai i20N, but only marginally, and it's every bit as good. And even our test car, with an optional paint job and some choice options, including heated seats and a heated steering wheel, only cost a smidgen over £29,000. It's a strong value proposition, particularly given standard equipment includes a heated windscreen, a reversing camera and keyless entry, as well as all the ST-related goodies.


The final updates to the Fiesta ST might not have made a huge difference, but they did ensure the Fiesta felt modern and up-to-date. And that made it the best version of the ST, which made it the best version of the Fiesta to date. It's a real shame that the ST has gone, because cars such as this are dying out, and everyone should have a go in one. It's a riot.

James Fossdyke - 7 Aug 2023    - Ford road tests
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2023 Ford Fiesta ST (3-door). Image by Ford.2023 Ford Fiesta ST (3-door). Image by Ford.2023 Ford Fiesta ST (3-door). Image by Ford.2023 Ford Fiesta ST (3-door). Image by Ford.2023 Ford Fiesta ST (3-door). Image by Ford.

2023 Ford Fiesta ST (3-door). Image by Ford.2023 Ford Fiesta ST (3-door). Image by Ford.2023 Ford Fiesta ST (3-door). Image by Ford.2023 Ford Fiesta ST (3-door). Image by Ford.


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