It’s a little sad to think that the market conditions in Australia made Ford realise there just wasn’t a strong enough impetus to continue selling the Fiesta hatch locally. Aside from the numerous factors that have played into that outcome, at least we have the privilege of receiving the newest ST hot hatch.
Now available in the more practical 5-door form, the newest Fiesta ST is otherwise an identical product to the 3-door it essentially replaces as the sole representative of a nameplate that has existed since the mid-1970s. Which is a shame because, over the previous Mk6, this newer version has improved by leaps and bounds.
On the 5-door ST, which will be arriving in showrooms in Q1 2020, Ford has confirmed pricing will start from $31,990 (roughly $4,500 more than its predecessor) and will include goodies from the typically-optional Performance Pack as standard fit.
Because Renault isn’t bringing in new examples of the rather good Clio RS, ironically, the American-badged but German-built Fiesta ST will face off against a sole opponent, Wolfsburg’s own Volkswagen Polo GTI - which also happens to be priced identically to the Ford.
A key difference between both cars are its powertrains, but more specifically its choice of transmission. Some might see the Fiesta ST being a manual-only model as an advantage that offers keen driver’s a greater sense of connection to experience, meanwhile it could be argued that Volkswagen’s more expensive and more convenient dual-clutch is being factored into the price at no premium over the Ford.
Ultimately, it could just come down to personal preference. However, your preference is not considered if you just don’t fancy small turbocharged engines. To be fair, even the most ardent proponent of naturally aspirated engines will have to concede defeat when the new FK8 Civic Type R (and its short-lived predecessor the FK2) emerged, embracing forced-induction and eschewing pure atmospheric theatrics.
Under the bonnet, the Fiesta uses a 1.5-litre turbocharged three-cylinder EcoBoost petrol that outputs 147kW and 290Nm to the front wheels. This is only slightly more power and torque than the previous Fiesta ST’s 1.6-litre turbo and about level-pegging with the Polo GTI’s 2.0-litre mill despite being down on cylinder count and displacement.
Each Fiesta ST also comes with a Quaife limited slip differential as well as torque vectoring and uprated Tenneco dampers. Standard are 18-inch alloys with 205/40 Michelin Pilot Sport 4 tyres and large 278mm front rotors while 254mm rotors handle the rears.
Inside, the ST blends a sporty feel with no-nonsense directness. The seats are body hugging Recaro numbers that mix leather and grippy Alcantara. Wherever possible, the dark materials are contrasted with white stitch work. Front and centre is an 8.0-inch infotainment system with SYNC3 and a 10-speaker B&O Play premium audio system.
On the safety front, the car’s Euro NCAP rating is well justified with its 6 airbags and a comprehensive active safety suite that includes AEB with pedestrian detection, Lane-Keep Assist, Blind Spot Monitoring, Cross Traffic Alert, and Traffic Sign Recognition. For added convenience, there’s keyless entry and start, automatic headlights, and rain sensing wipers.