New to the North American market for 2013, the Ford Focus ST took the hot hatch segment by surprise. Suddenly, there was a worthy competitor to the holy grail of hatches: the Volkswagen GTI. Personally, I’m not a big hot hatch guy, but I liked the thing. When looking at subcompact hot hatches, the Canadian market is deprived of European entries such as the Renault Clio, the Peugeot 208, et al. The Fiat 500 Abarth and the Mini Cooper S are the only real players, so it doesn’t surprise me that Ford decided to bring over their own model, the 2014 Ford Fiesta ST.
First things first – this Fiesta ST was the biggest surprise I’ve had all year. I knew the car would be fun, but I had no idea that I would have this stupid grin on my face every single time I drove it. It’s a ridiculous machine to say the least, and I like it a lot more than its bigger brother, the Focus ST. This little Molten Orange pumpkin came packing a 1.6L turbocharged 4-banger, putting out just shy of 200 horsepower and 214 lb-ft of torque. The numbers may not seem very high, but the Fiesta ST feels like a little rocketship. For the first time ever, I was happy to be driving downtown Toronto – this little hatchback is the perfect balance of size and power that made otherwise-impossible maneuvers a cinch.
To put things into perspective, I used to own a Mini Cooper. I really loved the thing, and to this day I claim that the Cooper S is one of the most fun front-wheel-drive cars money can buy. It may have just been surpassed though. The new Fiesta ST is a real game changer, and the smiles for your dollar begin the second the turbo spools up. The ST comes only with a six-speed manual, and transmissions as good as this one are the reason manuals should stick around. The throws are a bit on the long side, but the clutch is extremely forgiving and it’s incredibly easy to drive this thing hard.
The fun doesn’t stop at the powerplant; the hot Fiesta is a blast in the cornering department. As my week with the car progressed, I found myself taking corners harder and harder. The car didn’t fail me once. Even in some heavy rain on slick roads, I didn’t experience nearly as much understeer as I could have. It seriously baffled me how well the ST handles. The steering is perfect and predictable, and the sport-tuned suspension means cornering is much flatter than it should be in a subcompact hatchback. It makes a great noise too – rev-matched downshifts are simple and sound very satisfying. The Fiesta ST has Ford’s Sound Symposer; a contraption that ports engine sounds right into the passenger compartment.
My car came completely loaded. At just over $27,000, it’s definitely a bargain over the Cooper S. The corporate MyFordTouch system works a bit better on the smaller screen in the Fiesta, and toys like a navigation system, a sunroof and heated seats are always a huge plus in a compact. The little Ford also comes with Recaro racing seats with some serious bolstering. These seats are beautiful to look at, and hug my relatively slim six-foot self very well in the corners, but they’re awful on longer hauls. Living downtown Toronto, I need to do a bit of highway commuting to get to my favourite driving roads. I appreciate the support the Recaros provide, but I don’t think I could deal with them on a daily basis. Those with bigger frames may find the seats difficult to endure for any longer than very short stints.
There are however, a couple drawbacks to the Fiesta ST. I drove both the Scion FR-S and Honda Civic Si HFP just as aggressively as I did this Fiesta, and came out with reasonable fuel consumption numbers. A cold, spirited day with the Fiesta ST returned an average of 9.8L/100km. I will also say that anyone who puts regular fuel in one of these cars should be publicly shamed. When I drove the car conservatively, I managed a far more reasonable 7.3L/100km. My only other issue with the car is the ride. The sport-tuned suspension is heavenly when tossing the hot hatch through a slalom, but on the horrendous roads of Toronto and its suburbs, it’s unnecessarily harsh.
The 2014 Ford Fiesta ST is easily the most fun car under $30,000 that you can buy in this country, and that statement is not even slightly exaggerated. The dollar-to-smiles ratio is exceptionally good. Before driving this car, I knew it would be fun. I knew that 200 horsepower in a car that weighs as much as my big toe would probably mean it can accelerate like a bat out of hell, and that it would handle like it was on rails. What really took me by surprise is that this package overall is simply sublime. Every young city-dweller that likes a bit of spice in their car really, really needs one.
2014 Ford Fiesta ST Gallery