With an increasing number new vehicles being nothing more than washing machines, and by that I mean throw away goods that serve a purpose but don’t offer anything more than the mundane chore they’re designed for, it was hugely refreshing to drive a brand new Ford last summer that demands driver involvement.
The car in question is a Fiesta ST-3, finished on the car tested and pictured in an absolutely glorious Metallic Silver Fox colour, which sadly no longer seems to be available. Colour choices today include Red, White, Black, Graphite, and for those who want to stand out, Mean Green.
As standard this top of the range hot hatch from the blue oval is fitted with 18-inch 5-spoke alloy wheels, matrix LED headlights with signature LED daytime running lights and integrated sequential indicator LED rear lights, body coloured electrically operated door mirrors with side indicators, rear privacy glass, and quickclear heated windscreen.
Unique ST front grille and bumper feature along with ST rear bumper with a diffuser adding the Sporting touch, while unique ST suspension and selectable drive modes make the most of an outstanding chassis.
Electronic automatic temperature control inside the cabin helps with comfort alongside Ford Performance partial sensico front bucket seats with grey and silver detailing.
An 8-inch touch screen is present thanks to Ford SYNC 3 Navigation which also features DAB radio, emergency assistance, Apple Carplay and Android Auto, two USB inputs, and Fordpass Connect along with six speakers. The speedometer cluster behind the steering wheel is a full digital 12.3-inch display.
Keyless entry and keyless start add convenience alongside a rear view camera, cruise control including adjustable speed limiter and intelligent speed assist, rear parking sensors, lane keeping assist with lane keeping aid, traffic sign recognition, auto high beam and driver alert.
Priced from £26,140 the Fiesta ST is powered solely by a three-cylinder, 1.5-litre EcoBoost turbocharged petrol engine with a 6-speed manual gearbox. Its maximum power of 200PS, with 290Nm, will see a 0-62mph sprint in just 6.5 seconds with a top speed of 144mph and will return around 40mpg.
This Fiesta is no Autobahn stormer though, and it is no faster than my aging but lightly fettled BMW 530d. However, show the fiesta anything but a main road and I can’t see there being very much out there that could keep up with this little pocket rocket.
One feature of this Ford that makes it so capable is the Quaife limited slip differential (LSD). On track, and with incredibly spirited road driving, this small link between engine and wheels totally transforms how the fiesta drives.
The amount of extra grip is nothing short of comical, and having not driven many front-wheel-drive cars equipped with an LSD, it definitely takes some getting used to, to gain the confidence it encourages you to have.
That said, it is a mechanical feature that is, in my mind, too aggressive for normal daily driving and commuting. Its mannerisms mean that two hands must be on the wheel at all times, and you cannot afford to lose any concentration under anything other than mild acceleration as it struggles to stay within the roads tramlines.
There is absolutely no questioning the hurriedness at which it helps propel this little Fiesta forward, nor the cornering ability given, thanks to the LSD. I’m confident in saying that the only thing to slow you down when cornering is inadequate adhesion, an issue that will most likely be seen in the used car market when people fit substandard tyres.
There aren’t that many options available on the Fiesta ST as it is generously equipped from the factory, the one option that would be ticked if I was purchasing is the £425 Bang & Olufsen 10-speaker sound system. Another option that I would personally tick is the winter pack at £350 which includes heated front seats and a heated steering wheel.
The Recaro sports seats inside are absolutely outstanding. After being thrown into them with the use of launch control (which comes as standard), the huge bolster support available on the base and back hold you in place as if you have been ratchet strapped in.
Speaking of launch control, it is available on some of the three driving modes which include Normal, Sport, and Track. Your chosen mode offering different performance as well as disabling some driver aids to allow you full control.
With competition from the likes of the Suzuki Swift Sport, Volkswagen’s Polo GTI, and most recently the i20N from Hyundai (which I will be driving soon), I think the Fiesta ST will be a compact hot hatch favourite for another few years.
Ford offers a 3-year/60,000 mile warranty.