By Mike Goetz
2015 Ford Fiesta ST
• Type. Five-door, front-wheel-drive subcompact hatchback
• Engines (hp). 1.6-litre inline four-cylinder (197)
• Transmission. Six-speed manual
• Base price.$26,064
The Ford Fiesta ST is a great “hot hatch” in the European tradition.
But while Europe has had a Fiesta ST since 2005, this 2014 model is the first for North America.
Unlike Europe, our Fiesta only comes in four-door sedans and five-door hatches, so our new five-door ST doesn’t look quite as cool as Europe’s new three-door ST coupe, or for that matter, the three-door factory Fiesta rally car, which is piloted by racer and YouTube stunt driver sensation Ken Bock.
But four doors or not, this thing rocks.
The exterior bits that make ST more visually sporting — one-of-a-kind grille and chin spoiler, rear diffuser and spoiler, dual exhaust tips, and unique 17-inch wheels — are agreeably understated.
It feels more racy on the inside, primarily because our tester was flaunting the optional leather-trimmed RECARO seats — in “hurt your eyes” red. These seats are super firm and have huge side bolsters.
The ST is the most expensive Fiesta you can buy, so the rest of the inside is packed with stuff, like SYNC with MyFord Touch, a 6.5-inch LCD screen and the 80-watt stereo.
But ST is all about the driving experience. First thing you notice is how much torque this thing has, and how easily it launches. Ford says 177 lb-ft is available from just 1,600 rpm and that maximum torque (214 lb-ft) can be had by 3,500 rpm — and you can believe it.
The engine is exclusively mated to a slick-shifting six-speed manual transmission. No automatic. Rowing through the gears is a motivational and audible treat. Powertrain sounds are actually fed directly into the cabin to enhance the sporty experience. ST features upgraded braking and suspension and steering, compared to regular Fiesta models. It also features electronic Torque Vectoring Control, to reduce understeer during hard cornering, and a three-mode stability system (off, standard, sport).
This translates to a very entertaining experience through traffic and in twisty bits along your journey. It has virtually no body lean and can change lanes with a flick of the steering wheel. The stiff “summer” performance tires can’t help smooth out the bumps very much, but that would be one of the few caveats of this very engaging little beast.