A downsized engine, but probably no less fun.
Europeans had been enjoying it for years, and when the Ford Fiesta ST finally reached the U.S. market in 2013, we instantly knew why. The Fiesta ST is a firecracker of a hot hatch, offering outsized levels of fun and performance for its dimensions and price. Personally, I’ve been lucky enough to take various Fiesta STs ice racing, autocrossing, to open track days, and bombing around the best back roads in Michigan, and I’ve loved every minute. Will that still be the case with the all-new model?
Based on what we know so far, yes. The 2018 Ford Fiesta ST, which makes its debut at the Geneva Motor Show next month before going on sale in Europe by early next year, follows the basic recipe that made the current ST so great. There’s a fizzy turbocharged engine, a six-speed manual transmission, and enough suspension and brake tweaks to keep up with the road turns into a squiggle. Let’s run down exactly how the new model compares to the outgoing ST.
How does it look?
Based on the latest iteration of the Ford Fiesta hatchback, the new ST adopts a much more modern look to its nose. There’s a more pronounced grille, more swept-back headlights, and ultimately the design brings the Fiesta ST closer in style to its Focus big brother. As before, though, sporty touches abound: Look for dual exhausts poking out below a small plastic diffuser, a big roof spoiler, red-painted brake calipers, a mesh design for that grille, and 18-inch wheels with a new asymmetric design (17-inchers are standard on today’s version). As before, the Fiesta ST could probably fly under the radar if you don’t know what to look for, but those in the know will instantly recognize it. By the way, though Europeans will be able to buy both three- and five-door variants, expect Ford to only offer the five-door ST here.
What’s under the hood?
Here’s a reminder that we’re well into the era of downsizing: The new Fiesta ST has a 1.5-liter three-cylinder engine, with a turbocharger pushing output to 197 horsepower (147 kilowatts) and 214 pound-feet (290 Newton-meters). But while the engine shrinks, torque improves massively: The old car’s 1.6-liter turbo-four cranked out 197 hp and 177 lb-ft with overboost in U.S.-market spec. A six-speed manual remains the only transmission choice.
In the new car, expect a 0-to-62-mph time of 6.7 seconds, 0.2 seconds quicker than what Ford quotes for the outgoing ST. Though we don’t have an exact RPM figure, Ford says the new turbo builds boost more quickly and develops stronger low-end torque.
The new engine is a very interesting design that builds upon the 1.0-liter turbo-three in the standard Fiesta. It has dual variable valve timing and direct injection to optimize power, plus an active exhaust valve that can adjust how much noise comes out of the back of the car. There’s also an Electronic Sound Enhancement feature that uses the car’s sound system to supplement the soundtrack; like it or not, that’s a common trick on many modern performance cars.
What about the chassis?
That was one of the best parts of the outgoing Fiesta ST: A darty, responsive chassis that oozed playfulness. Expect much of the same from the new model, and although Ford hasn’t share exact specs, we can already see this ST wears enlarged brakes and grippy Michelin Pilot Sport rubber in a generous 205/40ZR18 size. There are three modes for the stability-control system, on, “wide-slip,” and full-off. And an electronic pseudo-torque-vectoring control will brake the inside front wheel to reduce understeer.
How’s the interior?
As in the standard Fiesta, the new ST has a smarter, more modern interior design that before, with the touchscreen infotainment system sticking up, tablet-like, from the top of the center stack. Sporty points include a flat-bottom steering wheel, Recaro seats, plus a drive-mode selector (a Fiesta ST first) with Normal, Sport, and Track modes for the active exhaust, throttle response, stability control, and steering weight. Other features include Sync 3 with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a panoramic sunroof, and a high-end B&O Play sound system.
Is it fuel efficient?
The new three-cylinder has cylinder deactivation to save fuel; Ford says the engine can switch in and out of that mode in just 14 milliseconds. The car will also have an exhaust-gas particulate filter system to reduce soot output. Of course it’s too early to guess at precise numbers, but all signs point to an improvement over the 2017’s EPA ratings of 26 miles per gallon city, 33 highway, and 29 mpg combined.
When can I buy one?
If you’re in Europe, early 2018. Ford hasn’t yet said when the Fiesta ST will make it to the U.S. market, but expect more than a year’s wait to get your hands on the hot hatch.