This Fiesta ST is a gem in the subcompact class, delivering great economy, fabulous interior and plenty of smiles…

Ford has done an excellent job of using its worldwide expertise to bring some very practical, yet fun to drive, small cars to North America.

Using Europeans to build the Ford Focus and Fiesta for a worldwide market enabled the manufacturer to bring these superb handling cars virtually unchanged to our shores. On top of that, Ford is also selling their sportiest ST versions of both these cars. The Focus ST was introduced last year and this year we get the Fiesta ST “hot hatch”.

I’ve been a huge fan of the Fiesta. In fact, I prefer it to the bigger Focus, it is a perfect city runabout with go-cart like handling and a stylish little package.

Looks

For 2014, all Fiesta models get a minor facelift with a new front grille and headlights. The ST is easy to spot because of the black honeycomb grille with an ST badge, bigger alloy wheels, a rear spoiler hanging over the rear window, a bigger rear air diffuser with twin exhaust tips and blacked out trim around the windows. The ST looks like it means business. There are two exterior options that might be worth the money. Upgraded paint colours like ‘Molten Orange’ or ‘Green Envy Metallic’ cost $400 and the smoked grey wheels with red brake calipers cost $500 more. The base ST at $24,999 comes very well equipped and is ready to cause some trouble.

Inside

The first thing that pops right out on the ST interior are the two heavily bolstered Recaro sports seats. These are not meant for big people, you just won’t fit. They are snug and supportive but lack some simple, yet important adjustments. The front of the seat sits much higher than the back so your backside is very low with your knees pointing up. This produces a sporty feel initially but on longer trips, the lack of adjustment prevents the driver from being able to stretch their legs.

The dash has been updated to include a MyFord Touch screen for radio, phone, navigation and climate functions. The screen is rather small and far away from the driver, which makes accessing the small, virtual buttons on the screen a challenge. However, it does look much better than the older Fiesta dash.

The ST comes standard with very powerful front seat heaters, automatic climate control, a fat leather steering wheel with redundant radio controls and a leather covered manual shifter. The back seat has always been tight in the Fiesta; this is perfect for a single person or couple, not the best for a family.

Drive

In an era of cars that almost drive themselves, the Fiesta ST is a throwback to a timewhen the driver felt connected to the machine. The suspension is much firmer than the regular Fiesta, almost harsh over bumpy roads but the feedback to the driver through the tight steering ratio, firm chassis and the grippy Recaro seats is superb. The turbocharged, direct injection 1,6L Ecoboost engine pumps out 197hp. Only sold with a super-slick manual transmission that shifts with no effort at all and the clutch is precise.

In such a small car, this engine lets the driver do pretty much anything at will. Want to pass on the highway? No problem. Want to scoot away from a traffic light? No effort at all. This really is a car that does everything very well, including getting good fuel economy when the throttle is used lightly: using only 7.8L/100km in the city and 5.6L on the highway.

Verdict

At $24,999, the price might seem a bit steep for a subcompact car but this little machine comes almost fully loaded for that price. The options available are not “must have” items so the price can be kept in check. This Fiesta ST is a gem in the subcompact class, delivering great economy, fabulous interior and plenty of smiles. The ST just delivers much bigger smiles.

Contact: zack [dot] spencer [at] drivewaybc [dot] ca

The Lowdown

Power: 1.6L turbo with 197hp

Fill-up: 7.9L/5.6L/100km (city/highway)

Sticker price: $24,999

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