Straight from Ford Team RS in Cologne, West Germany, the Ford Fiesta ST has arrived to headline the updated Fiesta hatchback lineup. Brandishing a 137kW/290Nm turbocharged 1.6-litre, and priced at $25,990, the Ford Fiesta ST gives rival Europeans a savage upper-cut on all fronts.
Peugeot’s new 208GTi gets close with 147kW/275Nm but the Ford Fiesta ST undercuts the French compact by a whopping $4,000 and the previous numero uno in this sub-segment, the Volkswagen Polo GTi, is out-done all-round – $1,600 more expensive at $27,490 and offering only 132kW/250Nm.
Across the range, Ford’s new Fiesta – code-named WZ - is more fuel-efficient (aided by a new 1.5-litre engine and terrific turbocharged 1.0-litre three-cylinder - the latter exclusive to the Sport model which arrives in December), loaded with extra technology and still a match for the best in this league for driving dynamics. Starting price is $15,825.
With the game-changing ST, world’s-best 1.0-litre three-cylinder Sport model and pricing which is still right at the pointy end of the segment, Ford’s latest Fiesta deserves better than the current model’s already impressive eight per-cent market share and annual sales of 10,000 vehicles.
Ford Fiesta Overview
First-up, the new Fiesta ditches the old ‘CL’, ‘LX’ And ‘Zetec’ badges to align with Ford’s global strategy. So the entry-model is now the ‘Ambiente’, mid-grade is ‘Trend’, the unique 1.0-litre, three-cylinder is the ‘Sport’ and of course the range-topper is the rip-snorting ‘ST’ which is only sold in three-door guise, driving through a six-speed manual transmission.
Ford Fiesta CL and LX employ a new 1.5-litre engine.
There are some minor styling changes and the addition of Ford SYNC with emergency assistance.
In terms of specification differences, over the entry-grade Ambiente, the Trend gains 15-inch alloy wheels and front fog-lights.
As you will read below, all-new Ford Fiesta ST runs a staggering list of extras in addition to its turbocharged 1.6-litre engine (not the least of which are a massive rear wing and Recaro seats).
The full range is:
Ambiente (manual) $15,825
Ambiente (automatic) $17,825
Trend (manual) $17,825
Trend (automatic) $19,825
Sport (manual) $20,825
Sport (automatic) $22,825
ST (6-speed manual) $25,990
Ford Fiesta Engine
Ford’s new 1.5-litre, four-cylinder Ti-VCT petrol engine is good for 82kW at 6300rpm and peak torque of 140Nm at 4400rpm. While this is down a bit on the previous 88kW/151Nm 1.6-litre powerplant, the payback is in fuel consumption – 5.8l/100kms for the newcomer to 6.1l/100kms for the previous generation.
The naturally-aspirated 1.5-litre is part of Ford’s Duratec engine family and ‘Ti-VCT’ stands for twin variable camshaft timing.
Coming in December is Ford’s remarkable 1.0-litre, EcoBoost turbocharged three-cylinder petrol engine which was a deserving winner of the ‘Engine Of The Year’ title. It will be fitted to the Ford Fiesta Sport model as it actually out-punches the ‘atmo’ 1.5-litre with 92kW at 6000rpm and peak torque of 170Nm from 1400-4500rpm. Of course fuel consumption is the name of the game for Ford’s three-cylinder and with a combined-cycle rating of 4.9l/100kms, it matches the much-hyped Volkswagen Up three-cylinder.
For the high-performance Ford Fiesta ST, it’s the startlingly fast turbocharged 1.6-litre EcoBoost four-cylinder petrol engine with 134kW of power at 5700rpm and peak torque of 240Nm at 1600-5000rpm. These figures grow thanks to a 20-seconds maximum ‘overboost’ function which delivers 147kW/290Nm.
The regular Ford Fiesta models drive the front wheels via either a five-speed manual transmission or Ford’s competent six-speed PowerShift dual-clutch automatic transmission. Ford Fiesta ST exclusively uses the slick-shifting Durashift six-speed manual.
Ford Fiesta The Interior
Detail changes highlight the updated Ford Fiesta interior – Ford’s SYNC infotainment system is now standard across the range and even entry-grade Ambiente scores partial leather wrap for the steering wheel.
When it arrives, the range-topping Ford Fiesta Sport will be distinguished by sports seats front and rear with partial leather trim, an eight-speaker Sony audio system and ambient lighting.
Reflecting its high-performance attributes, Fiesta ST’s interior shows-off lots of components from the European Ford Team RS – such as ST alloy pedals, gear-lever and steering wheel. And of course the Recaro front seats are standouts – looking great and perfectly supportive. ST also gains the eight-speaker Sony audio with a 4.0-inch TFT screen and carbon fibre-look dashboard inserts.
Fiesta ST represents the Australian debut of Ford’s ‘MyKey’ system. A boon for parents who loan their cars to teenagers, the system allows you to program-in set speed limits and limiting functions for the audio, ‘no-start’ unless seat belts are fastened etc. Another one of those ideas where you think: “Why didn’t someone think of this brilliant idea before now?”
Ford Fiesta Exterior & Styling
Andrew Collinson, Ford’s head of exterior design for Asia and Africa explained the company’s philosophy of ‘visual premium-ness’ (a premium car must first look like a premium car) and also his approval of the Fiesta’s silhouette: “It’s got a lot of ‘wedge’”, he said.
That said, changes for the new model are minimal – a new front fascia, grille and bonnet (the latter now including scallops to match the Fiesta’s funky sides), revised front lights, updated tail-lights and rear spoiler and the high, trapezoidal grille which is now ‘standard Ford’ (look for it on the all-new Mondeo too).
Ambiente models ride on 15 –inch steel wheels, Trend models on 15-inch alloys, Sport on 17-inch alloys and the red-hot Fiesta ST Scores unique 17-inch alloys.
ST also adds a honeycomb front grille, halogen projector headlights, unique fog-lights, ST front and rear bumpers, side skirts and dual exhaust pipes.
Ford Fiesta On The Road
We’ve always said the Ford Focus’ German engineering was never more evident than in the drive experience. For ride and handling the Fiesta continues to match the Mazda2 and Volkswagen Polo as the segment benchmarks – in fact the Ford might even be a smidge better.
Underneath Fiesta’s MacPherson strut front/Torsion beam rear continues to be one of this segment’s most advanced combinations. As part of the updates Ford has fitted new bump stops to enhance front suspension refinement, new struts and anti-roll bars which are 15 per-cent stiffer (and re-tuned the electronic power steering to suit the revised set-up).
Ford Fiesta is European firm of course but that pays-back with crisp turn-in and nice mid-corner balance.
The five-speed manual could do with an extra ratio as you do need to keep the revs up to maximize performance of the new 1.5-litre petrol engine (tuned like all others for optimized fuel consumption). The six-speed dual-clutch auto is a pearler and much more tractable in traffic than Volkswagen’s sometimes cantankerous DSG.
Of course, with a tiny 10.2-metre turning circle, parking the Ford Fiesta is a breeze. Nevertheless the lack of a reversing camera is disappointing.
For the Ford Fiesta ST, drag-out the superlatives and double them. At $25,990 this could be the ‘hot-hatch steal’ of all-time. With rear disc brakes, firmer suspension, lowered ride height – and of course the punchy turbo 1.6 – this thing is ready for track days and nice roads like the Yarra Valley.
Be warned though – the Fiesta ST’s high grip levels and massive corner speed come as a consequence of suspension calibration which is very firm. We loved it but we do acknowledge there may be some who would find it tiring as an every day car.
Ford Fiesta Challenges
Ambient and Trend deserve six-speeders for their manual transmissions
Ford Fiesta Verdict
The more things change, the more they stay the same. Car Showroom has always advocated the Ford Fiesta as either the number one or number two best light passenger car on the market (it’s a coin-toss with the Mazda2) and with the arrival of the updated WZ model, nothing has changed.
Top-notch European driving dynamics mixed with extensive features and sharp pricing mean dollar-for-dollar the new Ford Fiesta is a superstar.
What Mazda2 can’t match is the Ford Fiesta ST – in the sub-$30,000 hot-hatch market Ford has leapt to number one with this German whizz.
Ford Fiesta The Competition
Mazda2 starts at $15,790 and employs Mazda’s 1.5-litre petrol engine. Some say the Mazda2’s styling is ‘awkward’ but against that the interior is both brilliant design and hugely practical.
One hundred bucks less than that buys entry into Toyota’s Yaris family (but it’s $17,390 for the first 1.5-litre model). Nowhere near as dynamic to drive as the Fiesta, the Yaris is Toyota at its best – a great all-rounder which will enjoy a long career.
Honda Jazz and Kia Rio should also be on your list and next week Renault launches the full Clio range in Australia.
*Ford Fiesta ST shown in all photos