2015 Ford Fiesta ST: The Overgrown Go Kart You've Always Wanted
Lightning in a very small bottle
American car buffs were simultaneously overjoyed and amazed with Ford finally produced a sporty hatchback for the North American car market. The 2013 Ford Focus ST hit the scene with a serious amount of power for its weight, compelling handling, and the kind of all-around practicality required of a daily driver. For their encore, Ford decided to out-do themselves and produce similar - some say better - thrills in an even smaller package.
Enter the Ford Fiesta ST.
Good things, small packages, etc
Forced induction is your friend
It's easy to look at the Fiesta ST and know that it's not the stock entry-level vehicle of Ford's lineup. The car is lower, with more aggressive styling and performance to match.
At the heart of the matter is the 1.6 liter turbocharged engine, generating 197 horsepower and a whopping 214 pound feet of torque. That is quite a punch for a car that weighs in around 2700 pounds, leading to 0-to-60 times around 7 seconds.
Street and drag racers will decry those times as pedestrian, but the drag strip is not where this car shines brightest. The Fiesta ST belongs on the track. To put it succinctly, the Fiesta ST is a canyon carver and the quintessential driver's car.
A "canyon carver" is a vehicle that provides its thrills in its balance, handling, and ability to maintain momentum in curves and over slight changes in elevation. A "driver's car" is a vehicle that inspires confidence in the person behind the wheel, seducing the driver into taking that next turn just a little bit faster, never seemingly out of control, with tires that begin to bark at you when things are really about to go wrong and never before.
This car wants to go. It wants to give you all 20 seconds of turbocharged boost in a shot, if you'll only let it. It wants to show you how balanced it is and how, if you just squint a little, as the rear end of the car comes around in that turn you hit a little fast, this car can almost fool you into thinking it is rear-wheel drive.
Of course, the car is not rear-wheel drive and a slight amount of torque steer when you put the accelerator to the floor will remind you of that. It's not the "holding a distracted large dog on a leash" level of torque steer found in the larger Focus ST, but you'll notice it from time to time.
Other good stuff
While the drive is definitely the star of the show, there are other nice features about the Fiesta ST. Obviously, with such a small and light car, the mileage is pretty great. Even heavy-footed drivers will get reasonable mileage out of the Fiesta ST. The car comes with (almost) all the technical gadgetry you'd expect, and I found the basic seats to be plenty comfortable.
Not so good stuff
Ah, but as much as the Fiesta ST is to drive, no car is perfect.
For starters, the cargo space is tiny. I wasn't able to fit more than a small suitcase and a backpack in the hatch without letting down the rear seats. Speaking of the rear seats, while they are comfortable, they don't offer a lot of legroom, which should be expected in a car this small.
I've read and seen many reviews wherein the reviewers like that the engine note is piped into the cabin, but I found it to be a droning, annoying noise. To each his own.
On the plus side, the car is very affordable but the interior stands out as one of the ways in which Ford kept the costs low. Unlike the Focus ST, which has an admirably upscale interior for a car in this class, the Fiesta ST's "all plastic, all the time" interior is the same as the base model Fiesta.
Further comparing the Focus ST to the Fiesta ST, the Focus ST gets good crash ratings all around, while the Fiesta ST suffers from marginal side impact ratings.
The little hot hatch that could
Despite those flaws, the Fiesta ST has quickly won the hearts and minds of track day fanatics all over North America with it's considerable punch, thrilling handling, jaw-dropping weight, and everyday practicality. Honestly, Ford may find it's stiffest competition in the hot hatchback space to be...itself.