The 2018 Ford Fiesta ST is the latest model to feature a completely new engine configuration. The 1.6-litre four-cylinder turbo that was used in the previous model has been replaced by a lightweight, aluminium 1.5-litre three-cylinder turbo. This new motor produces 197bhp, which is 17bhp more than the standard output of the previous Fiesta ST, and equal to its ‘overboost’ figure. Torque has also increased from 240Nm to 290Nm, and Ford claims that the new Fiesta ST can go from 0-62mph in 6.7 seconds, two tenths quicker than the previous generation model and on a par with the ST200. The top speed is estimated to be just above 140mph.
The modern world is driven by materialism, and this same logic applies to automotive attributes. More of something good often equates to something better, and this is especially true when it comes to engines. More power, torque, and speed are always desirable, and the new Ford Fiesta ST is proof of this.
The latest Ford Fiesta ST is breaking the rules with its turbocharged inline-three. Can a car be better with 25% fewer cylinders? We say yes! The new Fiesta ST is a major upgrade over the 2018 model, which had four cylinders.
Sadly, the 2018 Fiesta is still available from some Ford dealers in the US, but global economics and the rise of crossovers means the seventh-generation Fiesta won't be sold here. We had to head to the UK for our first drive of the ST.
Ford had to figure out how to make a new ST for the seventh-gen Fiesta, which runs on three-cylinder engines. So they made a 1.5-liter EcoBoost with 197 horsepower and 214 lb-ft of torque (12 lb-ft more than the old engine). Plus, you can get a limited-slip diff now. The only transmission option is a six-speed manual.
We got to take the new ST for a spin at Goodwood Motor Circuit. Ford was pretty confident, cuz they let us loose on the track without any restrictions other than a chicane on Lavant straight and a polite plea to not crash. We only got six laps each, to keep the brakes and tires in check.
The new Ford Fiesta ST features a similar chassis setup to its predecessor, with struts for the front axle and a torsion beam at the rear. The car also has a 14 percent quicker steering rack than the Europe-only ST200, and selectable driving modes that allow the driver to disable the stability control and add some extra exhaust noise. The three-cylinder engine produces some pleasingly determined sounds when the tach needle reaches the red zone, and although it has fewer spark plugs than the four-cylinder, it doesn't lack in power.
The six-speed gearbox remains unchanged from the current model and offers an enjoyable and accurate action that is hard to find in cars costing several times more. The only issue that was noticeable after a track stint was some brake fade under hard use, and the desire for an extra 100 horses to help shorten the straights. All in all, the Fiesta ST offers a great driving experience with plenty of verve and enthusiasm.
The new Ford ST has made a considerable leap in terms of maturity on the road. The cabin is roomier and more comfortable, with higher-grade materials used for the parts that are regularly touched. Depending on the trim level, the car’s infotainment system is either the latest Sync 3 or a 6.5-inch touchscreen. Buyers can choose between two- and four-door hatchbacks, with the driving position improved by the Recaro sport seats that offer a greater range of adjustment.
Cruising refinement is respectable, although the ST still rides on the firm side of comfortable and can get jiggly on rough surfaces at low speeds. The EcoBoost engine can also become quite noisy when operating at constant revs, but it can switch to a two-cylinder mode to improve fuel economy. The transition from two to three cylinders is almost instantaneous, so the driver won’t even notice it.
The soon-to-be-discontinued ST has always been a feisty little car, full of enthusiasm even when it wasn't wanted. The new model feels larger and more mature in everyday driving, yet still able to transform into a fiery beast when asked. In terms of positioning, it is closer to the soon-to-be-retired Focus ST than to the outgoing Fiesta.
It seems that European drivers are more willing to pay for performance cars, which explains the increase in quality. At current exchange rates, the new Fiesta ST starts at around $20,400 in the UK, making remaining 2018 models look like an even better deal.
We may not get to enjoy the new ST, but we can still appreciate Ford's engineering prowess in creating such a great car. Hopefully, some of its spirit will make its way into the ST-branded crossovers that we will be getting in the US.