Ford Fiesta ST 2

1.5T EcoBoost

Ford Fiesta ST, front
Ford Fiesta ST, front
Ford Fiesta ST, front
Ford Fiesta ST, front
Ford Fiesta ST, side
Ford Fiesta ST, rear
Ford Fiesta ST, rear
Ford Fiesta ST, rear
Ford Fiesta ST, interior

COMPILE a list of the top firecracker hatchbacks over the decades and it would indeed be an elite group.

From the Golf GTI to the 205 GTi, the Civic Type R and perhaps the lesser known Clio RS it is without doubt a formidable line-up.

Ford's Sporting Technologies, or ST brand, is right up there with the Fiesta vying for best in its particular class at the moment.

The latest version of the best selling Ford is available in three and five door styling, three door in this case and three trim grades, ST-1, 2 and 3.

It features a hi-tech three cylinder, 1.5 litre engine. Sounds modest doesn't it, but it packs an enormous 197bhp to give it neck-wrenching acceleration is mated with a super slick shifting six-speed gearbox and ST enhancements to suspension which offers limpet like road holding and overall agility.

That's not to say comfort and is totally sacrificed for performance, because around town the beast is as docile as you need it to be when pottering around town.

However the form fitting and sporty Recaro seats, while great for short hops and keeping your firmly in placed when unleashing the power, but proved a little discomforting to a large thigh scar on a four-hour haul. Not the car's fault of course.

It also looks the part, even if it's in a slight understated kind of way, with its twin exhausts, modest spoiler, sculpted styling that features deep side skirts, familiar blue oval grille with large air scoops below and stylish alloy wheels.

Its wedge shape, emphasises the latent power lurking under the bonnet.

The interior also has a sporty if slightly understated look but features ST brand gearknob, and flat-bottomed steering wheel with stitching that is replicated on the leather handbrake lever and gear-lever gaiter.

The central eight inch touchscreen dominates. It is a highly intuitive piece of kit which controls major functions like navigation, infotainment through a high quality sound system and smartphone connectivity via SYNC 3. Voice control also allows hands free activation.

There are electric windows and door mirror with parking camera and rain sensing wipers.

Safety kit includes lane departure alert, cruise control and auto headlights.

On the road, the EcoBoost engine also delivers an impressive 290Nm of torque which powers the car to 62mph in just 6.5 seconds and on to top speeds of 144mph, where permitted - all with the increasingly familiar and pleasing growl of a the three-pot engine.

It also features the industry-first cylinder deactivation system for a three-cylinder engine for further improved fuel efficiency. Official figures suggest around 47mpg, but the onboard computer suggested something nearer 38mpg.

But if economy is not the priority, the three drive modes keep the fun going.

Normal mode is what it suggests, driving under normal conditions, but still with plenty of power on hand.

In Sport mode, engine mapping and throttle pedal response are sharpened and the active noise control valve opens to intensify the sporty exhaust note.

Track is what implies, driving on a race track where with the optional limited-slip differential reduces wheel spin, and improves distribution of engine torque to the wheel with more grip to fully exploit engine performance. optimises cornering grip. The new force vectoring springs also deliver sharper turn-in, better rear-end responsiveness and a more connected feel.

Despite its raging performance, the Fiesta remains a practical hatchback with decent luggage space, particularly with the seats folded.

Four are seated comfortably, even if this three-door model proved slight cramped for entry and exit.

FAST FACTS

Ford Fiesta ST 2 1.5T EcoBoost

Price: £20,245

Mechanical: 200ps, 1,499cc, 3cyl petrol engine driving front wheels via 6-speed manual gearbox

Max Speed: 144mph

0-62mph: 6.5 seconds

Combined MPG: 47.1

Insurance Group: 12

C02 emissions: 136g/km

Bik rating: 31%

Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles

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