Using a specially tuned 182ps 1.6 litre four-cylinder engine made in Bridgend, South Wales and a new six-speed close ratio gearbox, the three-door only Fiesta ST develops 20pc more power and fuel economy than the previous version.
It has a top speed close to 140mph and does the 0-62mph increment in under 7 seconds while it can deliver 240Nm of torque. Ford say it has a combined economy figure of nearly 48mpg and emits 138gkm of CO2.
To go with the power underfoot, Ford Team RS tuning optimised the power steering, all-disc brakes for the first time on the Fiesta and traction assistance systems to enhance grip and safety.
The Fiesta ST can be distinguished from its less powerful stablemates by its unique trapezoidal honeycomb grille, eye-catching headlights, rear diffuser and inside there are Recaro seats and ST detailing with a sound symposer to channel exhaust notes inside the cabin and standard equipment includes SYNC and MyKey systems for media optimization and personalisation.
Ford anticipates selling 5,000 Fiesta ST models in the UK, half of scheduled production for Europe, and it already has 1,000 orders inside three months.
It comes in race red, molten orange and spirit blue special colours and there are two versions, ST and ST2, with the latter getting part leather trim, different sound system, privacy glass, Ford Start button and LED daytime lights, starting at under £17,000 for the ST and rising to about £18,000 for ST2.
It is visually and dynamically very different to its stablemates and its Team RS tuning is immediately apparent.
The 1.6 litre engine is a compact fit under the bonnet and delivers very willing acceleration from rest and through the gears. On motorways it cruises with nonchalance at the legal limit.
But it’s on twisting roads that the Fiesta ST comes into its own. The figure hugging Recaro seats really hold you securely and there is an immediate response to the steering and immensely powerful brakes underfoot which include all round discs for the first time on Fiesta.
You can tell the suspension has been firmed up a lot and the ride lowered because it corners in a much flatter manner and it does transmit a lot of bumps back into the cabin.
Handling is agile and the roadholding very good with a good safety margin built into the set up.
A side effect of this is much more road noise too from the bigger wheels and tyres but there is no complaint about the deliberately intruding exhaust note.
Access is easy infront, more of a squeeze to slip behind, but the boot and oddments provision is good. Once seated there is fairly good leg and headroom infront but less behind.
Visibility is reasonably good the back when parking and clear to front and side. Instruments are decently sized and easy to read.
I liked the flowing nature to the powertrain and gearbox, the agile steering and confidence inspiring brakes underfoot.
Over a mixture of roads I managed to get into the low 30s mpg sector but the engine of my test car was barely run in and I would expect this to improve a little.
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