2015 Ford Fiesta ST review
Isaac Bober’s 2015 Ford Fiesta ST review with pricing, specs, ride and handling, safety, verdict and rating.
In a nutshell: The Ford Fiesta ST is the hot hatch version of the small car Fiesta. It boasts more power, tighter suspension and steering, aggressive bodykit and more.
BACK IN THE OLD DAYS, building a hot hatch was about as tricky as taking a cheap-ish small car, removing and throwing away its engine and shoe-horning in something larger and more powerful. Some slight tweaks to steering, brakes and suspension, and some natty ‘performance’ badges and, bang, you’ve had a hot hatch. Add some tartan seat coverings and you’d built a legend… (what are we talking about?)
Fast forward to now and the principles are much the same. For some. Plenty of car makers warm up their small cars, think Hyundai Veloster and Kia Pro_cee’d GT, but few create proper, slightly bonkers hot hatch versions for beer money. Enter the Ford Fiesta ST. Priced from $25,990 (+ORC) the sporty little Fiesta ST is Ford’s most powerful small car ever, punching out 134kW and 240Nm (fuel consumption is a claimed 6.9L/100km but the best average we achieved was 8.5L/100km). This is mated to a six-speed manual with power going to front wheels only. The fuel tank holds 48 litres.
But, as Tim Shaw used to say, wait, there’s more. The suspension has been breathed on along with the steering (the rack has been re-geared to 13.7:1) and there’s a properly clever torque vectoring system that’s designed to dial out both torque and understeer. And it works. Sitting 15mm lower than the garden variety model, at the back is a torsion beam set-up.
Beyond the nuts and bolts, the Fiesta ST gets some cosmetic fripperies to help set it apart from its milder siblings, like the honeycomb style grille, the bodykit with extended chin and skirt, as well as a large rear-mounted spoiler. It packs plenty of presence without being shouty.
Move inside and it’s a little harder to tell you’re in something special. Well, sort of. The dashboard is straight out of the regular Fiesta and, to be honest, it’s my least favourite part of the car. The double deck layout and the small, fiddly buttons are tricky to use on the move and far too confusing; the next-generation Fiesta will likely follow the interior of the Mondeo which relies on a large touch screen and easy to use auxiliary controls for the heating and air con, etc.
The steering wheel is nice and chunky and feels good in the hand, but Ford, maybe by fitting a flat-bottomed unit could have made a little more of it than they have. That said, Ford would likely suggest that it’s an ST model and not an out-and-out RS model; I would argue that since there’s no Fiesta RS… Anyway, it’s a minor, minor gripe. The Recaro seats literally squeeze you in place and my bigger boned father struggled to feel comfortable in them, but for slender-hipped drivers the seats are comfortable-ish without coming across as try hard wannabe race seats.
And you appreciate just how grippy they are the first time you turn into a corner carrying a little more speed than you might normally… your bum stays where it should allowing you to get on with the job of steering and changing gear without also having to keep your backside from sliding across the seat.
But the front sporty pews aren’t perfect. There’s no tilt adjust so you end up dropping them down as far as they’ll go, but to avoid a falling forward sensation you have to recline the seat back slightly; so, while the seats are good they’re not perfect.
There are seats in the back and they can be used children and adolescents, but adults, particularly taller adults (six foot) would struggle for leg room, headroom, shoulder and elbowroom. Yep, it’s tight in the back, although I did manage to fit my son’s booster seat into the back, behind the passenger seat which was okay as long as the passenger seat was pushed all the way forward to give him maximum legroom. So, what I’m saying is that despite offering seating for four, the Fiesta ST is a strict two person car. And that’s just fine.
Hiding under the boot floor is a 15-inch mini spare wheel, which is frustrating as the main wheels are 17-inch alloys. The option to buy a larger spare would be a good thing.
So, how does the Fiesta ST drive? Very well, is the short answer. The 1.6-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine thumps out a usable amount of grunt: 134kW and 240Nm of torque (from 1600-5000rpm), which is just enough for the thing to feel quick without overwhelming the front wheels. Indeed, the engine is excellent. It offers a nice and progressive pouring on of power from idle through to redline. Give the throttle a prod in a lower gear and it’ll gently push you back into the seat as it surges forwards. Cleverly, the torque curve from 1600 through to 5000rpm is flat, which means little in the way of turbo lag and no light switch-style jump when the turbo comes on boost.
The six-speeder is a nice slick unit with just a touch of baulk if you try and rush it through the ratios. The brakes are solid too and with a nice progressive feel. The steering is tight and direct but never nervous or fussy across broken surfaces, and there’s a reassuring meatiness to its straight ahead feel on the highway.
Now, make no mistake, the Fiesta ST runs a firm set up that’s particularly noticeable at low speed, but it’s not so firm that you’ll rattle filling loose. And as the speed rises and the corners start arriving faster then the Fiesta ST comes to life with excellent body control and steering that offers a nice meaty feel and a direct action. This is a car that works with and flatters the driver, rather than being a cantekerous old-school hot hatch that’ll spit you into the trees should you lift your foot a touch when you should have kept it flat.
Even across broken surfaces the Fiesta ST doesn’t become as unsettled as its firm ride might suggest, refusing to bump steer or tram line not matter the road surface. And torque steer? Forget about it. Floor the throttle in first, second or third and there’s nothing beyond acceleration and a gentle force pushing you back into the seat; no little chirp as the tyres squirm sideways under the force being shoved through them. It’s truly impressive.
And it all leads me to go out on a limb and say that this Fiesta ST is the best handling small hot hatch on the road right now, and it’s also one hell of a bang for your bucks special.
So, just what do you get for your $25,990 (+ORC)? Well, it gets all the usual suspects like single-zone climate control air-con and heating, Bluetooth phone (and USB/iPod) connectivity, cruise control, Recaro sports seats, auto-dimming rearview mirror, rain-sensing wipers, one-touch up and down windows (driver and passenger) and more. So, it gets just enough bits and bobs so as you don’t feel hard done by but, it’s really the engine and the way this thing handles that you’re paying for, everything else is just garnish.
ANCAP has given the Fiesta range, including this Fiesta ST a five-star ANCAP rating, it gets airbags for both driver and passenger, with curtain airbags extending into the back seats. It also gets traction and stability controls and torque vectoring that mimics the action of a limited-slip differential and keeps the car tight in corners.