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Car reviews - Ford - Fiesta - ST

Our Opinion

We like
Value, handling, steering feel, body control, roadholding, ESC calibration, performance, exhaust sound, relative ride comfort and refinement, reach-adjustable steering, soft-feel dash, safety, equipment levels, great seats, solid build quality
Room for improvement
Gasmask-ugly ‘facelift’, poor rear vision, no five-door option, minor dated cabin detailing

29 Aug 2013

HYPE can be the mortal enemy of any new-car launch, and it is a long, hard fall should something fail to deliver.

So, after a veritable rhapsody of rave reviews from all corners of the globe clogging our monitors, how does the Fiesta ST shape up in real life Down Under?First impressions are disappointing. That ‘trapezoidal’ grille would embarrass an aardvark. After the elegance of the previous Fiesta’s face, this one puts the probe in proboscis. Ugly.

There are other irritations too, like no five-door option, rubbish rear vision, a phalanx of confusing dash-mounted buttons, tacky instrument markings, and no overhead grabhandles.

Passengers will miss the latter … especially when the car is streaking through corners with the speed and precision of a heat-seeking missile.

Yep, our complaints section is over. In all, here’s another fast Ford that not only hits the heights of lofty expectations, but rockets right through them.

The awesomeness all begins the moment you sink yourself into the fabulous Recaro driver’s seat, greeted by great forward vision, excellent dashboard access, and a welcomingly thin steering wheel that’s within easy reach thanks to Euro-spec ST’s telescopic adjustment.

Being German, the cabin seems particularly solid and well screwed together, with the padded dash top making a welcome return to the Fiesta after the demise of the WS (and limited edition Metal) cars for the cheaper Thai models. Don’t think we haven’t noticed, Ford!Anyway, push the ST’s start button, and its 1.6-litre EcoBoost turbo roars into life.

But the first real hint of the ST’s specialness happens the instant you push the beautifully oiled short-shifting manual lever forward into first: it’s light yet weighty and scalpel-precise all at the same time.

The second concerns the seamless clutch and throttle – a Torvill and Dean dynamic duo, and irrefutable proof that manuals are simply better than automatics as far as hot hatches go. VW, Skoda, and now Renault simply have it wrong. Real drivers prefer stick.

And then the fun really kicks in with the first tilt of the wheel.

Never mind that this is a $26K hatchback. The ST’s rim is teeming with feel and feedback in a way we just didn’t think possible in a modern electric steering-equipped front-driver. The helm telegraphs to the driver what’s going on below with natural clarity, while immediately responding to his or her inputs.

Fast or slow, bumpy or smooth, dry or wet, the Fiesta corners like it’s suction cupped to a silicon surface, gliding through each turn with terrific agility.

Over several rapid switchbacks, even the odd road camber combined with misshapen humps couldn’t upset the Ford’s chosen line yet, with the three-mode ESC set to the intermediate Sport setting, the rear is playful enough for some tail-wagging fun without it feeling like the back end will snap out of control.

There’s also enough power from the revvy and rorty boosted four to balance the ST using the throttle, changing the car’s attitude mid-stream up or down a mountain pass like you are flexing an extension of your own muscle. That cliché of steering with your buttocks certainly applies here.

Considering how tautly the Fiesta tears through turns, its ride comfort is a major accomplishment, since it can deal with the serious stuff with a pliancy that a Polo GTI rider could only fantasise about.

On more than one occasion we shrieked with glee.

Like few have done before it, the Fiesta ST hasn’t as much found the hot-hatch Holy Grail as come with it engineered within.

Love at first drive, we can even overlook the ungainly styling think of it as a bloodhound’s snout, sniffing out corners for your vanquishing pleasure.

Yep, the Fiesta ST is a corker with a conker – and far better than even the tiresome hype had us prepared for.

We’re utterly rapt, and if you love driving, you'll be too.

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