Ford Fiesta ST-3

Ford Fiesta ST, front
Ford Fiesta ST, front
Ford Fiesta ST, front
Ford Fiesta ST, side
Ford Fiesta ST, front
Ford Fiesta ST, front
Ford Fiesta ST, rear
Ford Fiesta ST, rear
Ford Fiesta ST, dashboard

THE latest Ford Fiesta ST has downsized in the engine department.

It could be a recipe for disappointment - but fortunately it isn't.

The last generation Fiesta ST featured a 1.6-litre engine under the bonnet while its successor has a 1.5-litre unit.

It's Ford's new three-cylinder 1.5-litre EcoBoost engine and in the ST it delivers 197bhp and a 290Nm of torque.

It's definitely one of those cases of smaller being better and its predecessor was a pretty impressive performer.

It proves that the trend towards smaller yet more potent and efficient engines is the way to go.

And talking of efficiency Ford really have that covered too with its cylinder deactivation technology.

The Fiesta ST represents the first time its been used in a three cylinder engine.

It means it can run on just two cylinders to save fuel - up to six per cent according to Ford.

The switchover is super quick and slick too. Apparently it is 20 times quicker than the blink of an eye and unnoticeable.

The ST is the descendant of the wonderful Ford Fiesta XR2. I remember excitedly driving one in the mid 1980s and feeling it was one of the best cars I had ever driven.

As a descendant the latest ST is a worthy successor.

While it's not too extreme or over the top it is engineered to provide driving thrills aplenty in a small package.

It will take you from 0-62mph in 6.5 seconds, just a little faster than its predecessor, and boasts a top speed of 144mph.

Power delivery is great throughout the rev range too which really adds to the fun driving experience.

The ST's profile is appealing. It looks sporty and purposeful without being too gaudy or garish - they really have got the balance just right.

There's probably the opportunity to bling it up a bit if you wish but I think most people these days prefer a hot hatch that looks a little more on the sensible side rather than a creation that would appear to have bits stuck on to it just for the sake of it.

On the inside the ST impresses too. The sports seats support and surround you wonderfully well, even if the tight fit does take just a little getting used to.

Any reservations in that regard are soon dispelled though when you start to experience its impressive dynamics.

Take a corner at a reasonable speed and you'll really appreciate how well supported you are.

There are a number of firsts on the latest ST - another being the availability of a limited slip differential.

It's part of an £850 Performance Pack, which also includes launch control and is well worth the additional outlay.

Also new for the ST is a choice of driving modes - Normal, Sport and Track - each one upping the ante accordingly.

This has the advantage of the ST being a very versatile car, that's as comfortable on suburban roads and motorways as it is being driven enthusiastically on a B-road or even somewhere more extreme - ie on the track.

I have to say I enjoyed its versatility just as much as its performance capabilities.

It's a vehicle that's very easy to live with as an everyday car but offers something special when the occasion demands it.

In terms of practicality it impressed too.

While it's obviously a supermini - and this was a three-door version - I had to get five adults in and couldn't believe how well able it was for the task.

In terms of running costs it doesn't fare too badly. The efficiency of the three-cylinder engine and the cylinder shutdown capability means it has an official combined economy figure of 47.1mpg.

If you're going to have fun in it - and let's face it most people probably will - then you'll certainly be getting less than that.

There's a choice three-door and five-door body styles and three trim levels.

Prices start at £19,495 for an ST-1 model.

Standard features are decent across the range and include Recaro seats, sports suspension and a flat-bottomed steering wheel.

All models also come with electric, heated door mirrors, Ford's SYNC3 DAB radio with 6.5-inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability, cruise control and NCAP Pack, which includes lane keeping alert and speed limiter.

The ST-2 adds climate control, heated Recaro front seats, B&O Play sound system and SYNC3 with a larger eight-inch touchscreen.

FAST FACTS

Ford Fiesta ST-3

Price: £21,995

Mechanical:197bhp, 1,497cc, 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: 28

C02 emissions: 136g/km

Bik rating:31%

Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles

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