2014 Ford Fiesta ST Hatchback (1.6L 4-cyl. Turbo 6-speed Manual)
Driven On 9/17/2013
With its turbocharged four-cylinder, stiff suspension and six-speed manual transmission, the Fiesta ST is a torquey, well-mannered, responsive and thoroughly fun-to-drive five-door. It's our new favorite in the subcompact hot-hatch class.
PerformanceThe Fiesta is rich with fun-to-drive traits. Its chassis and powertrain come together to make it the most rewarding performance-oriented subcompact when it comes to driving hard.
The 197-hp turbocharged 1.6-liter pulls the ST to 60 mph in 7.1 seconds (6.8 with rollout). Abundant torque spins the front tires easily, but once it finds grip it moves out.
An immediate, responsive pedal and minimal dive yield confidence under braking. A short 112-foot 60 mph-0 distance is among the best in the class.
Sharp turn-in response, a neutral chassis and lots of grip make the Focus ST one of the most rewarding small cars to drive fast. Its steering might be its biggest strength.
Though it will oversteer, the Fiesta isn't as tail-happy as the Focus ST. Still, it's nearly as fun. The neutral balance makes it a very capable handler overall.
Driveability is a Fiesta ST strength. It's torque-rich power delivery and quick response make it easy to get moving from a standstill, and it's equally capable shooting gaps in traffic.
ComfortThough ride quality is on the stiff side, the Fiesta is reasonably comfortable for a subcompact. Plus, it's primarily designed for sporty driving anyway, not comfort.
Larger occupants may find the Fiesta's optional Recaro sport seats too confining. But they offer ample lateral support, something which the base seats lack.
Comfort is sacrificed for performance, although the Fiesta ST's ride is preferable to the jittery Mini Cooper S. Enthusiasts won't be troubled, as the payoff in handling is worthwhile.
The Fiesta is quieter than many of its competitors. Ford does a decent job of damping road and tire noise.
InteriorNothing inside the Fiesta looks or feels particularly expensive, but it's well assembled and the interior is perfectly functional.
Most controls are well placed and easy to use. Automatic climate control isn't a given in subcompacts, but it's standard in the ST, with a knob to control temperature. Nice.
The rather upright Fiesta makes entry/exit fairly easy. The optional Recaro seats have large bolsters you have to slide over, though.
Most cars in this class use their space well and the Fiesta is no exception. But its narrowness means the two front occupants are bound to bump elbows on occasion.
Great sight lines all around due to the large glass area and sloping waistline.
The hinged rear seats don't fold flat. In terms of cargo space, the Fiesta doesn't stand a chance against the Honda Fit. Good small-item storage though.
ValueStarting at $22,000, the Fiesta offers a lot of performance for the money. It only pales when you compare it to the Focus ST, which costs just $2,300 more. And if you opt for the Fiesta ST's $1,995 Recaro seats, you're almost there.
Build Quality (vs. $)
Interior materials are not as nice as some competitors, but the Fiesta seems to be assembled well.
Ford's SYNC infotainment system gets you most of the tech features you'll find in other cars in the class. But the Fiesta's interior doesn't have the flexibility of some rivals.
The only problem with the Fiesta ST is that its starting price is too close to that of the larger, faster and smoother-riding Focus ST.
Presumably buyers of this performance model will be less focused on fuel efficiency, but the ST is respectable at 29 Combined mpg (26 City/35 Highway). Expect real-world numbers to be lower.
The Fiesta's basic warranty covers the car for 3 years/36,000 miles. Drivetrain coverage lasts for 5 years/60,000 miles, which is average for the segment.
The Fiesta comes with roadside assistance for 5 years/60,000 miles, and Ford has improved the quality of its cars in recent years. Mini offers free maintenance for 3 years/36,000 miles.
Fun To DriveThe Fiesta ST is genuinely fun to drive. Communicative and responsive controls coupled with real power make it so. This car will be begging owners to take it to a mountain road.
The Fiesta ST isn't what we'd call fast, but it's a lot quicker than any standard subcompact. Ample low-end torque dominates, which makes it a blast to drive, even around town.
There's a lot of personality jammed into a small package with the Fiesta ST. It's torquey, handles well and makes all the right sounds.