During the week we had our 2014 Ford Fiesta ST press car, it hardly stayed parked for more than a few hours. Everyone wanted to enjoy some time behind the wheel, which wasn't surprising given the car's sporty looks, its turbocharged engine and its hot-hatch persona. So did the Fiesta ST live up to our high expectations? Here are our thoughts.
Fast and Fun
If you're interested in a Fiesta ST, chances are good that you're looking for a car that's fast and fun to drive. The Fiesta is certainly both.
In terms of driving feel, everyone who spent time behind the wheel was impressed with the Fiesta's steering and handling. Steering is nicely weighted, rather than too light like many modern cars. And handling is exceptional, to the point where the Fiesta ST hardly feels like it's a front-wheel-drive car. If you're into performance cars, you'll understand that such a compliment is one of the best you can give to a sporty front-driver. Thanks to various systems employed by Ford, the Fiesta suffers from almost no torque steer.
In terms of all-out speed, the Fiesta ST isn't as fast as you might expect, but it certainly feels like it is. The turbocharged engine makes a muscular sound that gives the feeling of big speed, and a slick manual transmission helps with the performance feel, too. On paper, the Fiesta ST offers only 197 horsepower, 214 lb-ft of torque and a 0-to-60 time of seven seconds, but when you're in the driver's seat pushing the pedals, everything works together to give you the sensation of high performance. That's the best kind of performance car: all the thrill with none of the risk and legal problems associated with high-speed driving.
Despite all of the Fiesta's high-performance benefits, one sporty trait nobody seemed to like was its Recaro seats. Not only do they add $2,000 to the hatchback's base price, they're simply too narrow, and that means that many drivers and passengers, even medium-sized ones, often don't fit comfortably. Admittedly, we love how the Recaros look, and we understand that their purpose is to keep you in place during hard cornering, but we might skip them if we were to order a Fiesta ST for ourselves.
Owing to its nature as a performance car, the Fiesta ST is expected to have a fairly rough ride. But according to many of our staffers, the ride is rougher than it should be. One major issue is weight: At only 2,740 pounds, the Fiesta ST is a fairly light car, and that means it's prone to getting thrown around by bumps and potholes in the road. Of course, high-performance suspension and low-profile tires aren't helping the hatchback's case.
For many drivers, a rough ride is something you'll just have to live with you if you want the Fiesta ST or any performance car. But if you often drive around with passengers, we suggest taking a thorough test drive with a friend or family member who might not be as forgiving to a car's flaws in the pursuit of performance. We think that many non-car-enthusiast passengers will find the ride unnecessarily bone-jarring.
Great Exterior, Good Interior
Everyone who spent time with our Fiesta ST enjoyed its exterior lines. One tester described them as youthful and aggressive, two words that sum it up perfectly. With bulging fenders and huge wheels (not to mention the look-at-me Molten Orange paint job of our test car), this isn't a car that will find favor with older drivers seeking a traditional look.
Aside from the Recaro seats, we also enjoyed the Fiesta's cabin. With the rear seats down, we were able to fit a surprising amount of cargo in back, and while some drivers don't like the small size of the Fiesta's MyFord Touch infotainment screen, most of us appreciated its responsiveness and ease of use.
After a week with the 2014 Ford Fiesta ST, count us highly impressed. We like the steering, the handling, the performance, the interior, the exterior and the reasonable $22,000 base price. Sure, we could do without the uncomfortable seats and the harsh ride, but no car is perfect. In the world of hot hatchbacks, the Fiesta ST comes surprisingly close.