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This Ford Fiesta ST Is a Budget Rental Car in Salt Lake City

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author photo by Doug DeMuro May 2017

Last week, I flew to Salt Lake City for the launch of the all-new Ford GT, which is this amazing marvel of design and technology and horsepower and performance. And the single most unusual thing I found at the Ford GT launch was ... a Salt Lake City airport rental car.

It's the car above -- a 2017 Ford Fiesta ST hatchback, finished in gray. A Ford Fiesta rental car isn't especially odd, but this particular example is; not only is the Fiesta ST the brand's high-performance, tuned-for-excitement, sporty hot hatch, but it's also only exclusively with a manual transmission. So this is a sporty performance model stick shift ... rental car.

When I first saw this, I figured it was some sort of special rental car situation, or it had been reserved exclusively by the person who chose it, under some special circumstances. Not so. I later met the person who rented this car, who turned out to be a member of Ford's public relations team. Ford has a contract with Budget Car Rental, and every present Ford staff member landed in Salt Lake City and rented a car, specifically asking for just one thing: a Ford. In most cases, Budget honored their request, though there was at least one Chevy Equinox on the bunch.

This particular PR person did the same as everyone else: He landed at the Salt Lake City airport, he asked for a Ford and they handed him Fiesta keys. But when he got out to the car, it turned out to be a Fiesta ST. From Budget! At an airport! Without insisting on any special treatment, or any unique vehicle, or making any strange request, except to ask for a Ford. I ran the Carfax report later, and it's true: this is a rental vehicle, and it looks like it was purchased directly from Ford -- meaning Budget actually chose this thing!

Obviously, this is weird. It's weird to have a performance model in a rental fleet, but it's especially weird to have a vehicle with a manual transmission. It's been years since I've seen a manual rental anywhere in the States, with such a huge proportion of Americans unable to drive a stick shift. It's especially unusual in the "economy car" class, where this Fiesta ST undoubtedly resides, since those drivers are looking to save money rather than have a sporty driving experience.

Interestingly, this isn't the only stick Fiesta ST at Budget counter at the Salt Lake City airport: I saw one more during my trip, and I read an internet post recently where someone rented a third one. So, pro tip: If you're flying into Salt Lake City in the next few months, and you have a car booked from Budget ... make it a compact. And ask for a Ford.

Doug DeMuro is an automotive journalist who has written for many online and magazine publications. He once owned a Nissan Cube and a Ferrari 360 Modena. At the same time.

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New 2017 Ford Fiesta ST Hatchback
New 2017 Ford Fiesta
MSRP $25,400
Saving this vehicle to yourMy Autotrader account
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New 2017 Ford Fiesta SE Hatchback
New 2017 Ford Fiesta
MSRP $20,390
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Certified 2017 Ford Fiesta ST Hatchback
Certified 2017 Ford Fiesta
$17,888
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New 2017 Ford Fiesta SE Hatchback
New 2017 Ford Fiesta
MSRP $17,450
This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
This Ford Fiesta ST Is a Budget Rental Car in Salt Lake City - Autotrader