I recently had the chance to drive the Ford Fiesta ST, which is a nice little hot hatchback based on the tiny Ford Fiesta, which is a nice little hatchback Ford isn’t going to sell here anymore. Yes, that’s true: The Fiesta will soon be cancelled, and the Fiesta ST will be cancelled, and the Focus will be cancelled, and someday we’ll look back on this era as the time when people didn’t drive SUVs. Crazy, old-fashioned people, of course.
But while people are still driving cars, you can still buy a new Fiesta ST, so I decided I’d have a look at this thing before it goes off the market. And what I discovered is it’s actually a better deal to buy it when it’s used than it is to buy when it’s new.
Allow me to explain. The base price of a new Fiesta ST is around $22,000, which is pretty good, except for this: The Fiesta ST came out a few years ago, and the average asking price on Autotrader for a Fiesta ST from the first model year, 2015, is like $14,000. Given that the car hasn’t changed much since then, that’s a total bargain — especially considering how much fun this thing really is.
To find out how much fun it is, I rented this Fiesta ST using Turo, which is a service where you can rent other peoples’ fun cars instead of regular airport rental cars. So I rented the Fiesta ST at Los Angeles International Airport, and I drove it around for a few days, and I came to the following conclusion: I love it.
Really, I do. Acceleration is one reason. While the Fiesta ST is a bit slow starting off, it has a lot of midrange punch, and it feels quicker from a roll than its 0-to-60 time of 6.9 seconds would suggest. It’s actually a lot of fun to floor it, randomly, whenever you can, and feel the RPMs climb quickly. The Fiesta ST feels quick, and the crashy ride and the clearly apparent torque steer make it feel even faster — though it still feels a little short of the Focus ST when it comes to performance.
I also think it feels a little short of the 500 Abarth when it comes to fun. The 500 Abarth is just so much fun to throw around, and you constantly have to floor it to get any power, and the sound is so ridiculous, and it’s just so small and tight and zippy. The Fiesta ST feels like a grown-up version of the 500 Abarth: more doors, more practicality, less fun.
And yet the Fiesta ST isn’t so much less fun than the 500 Abarth that you feel like you’ve made the wrong choice. The Fiesta’s handling is masterful, except when you’re flooring it and the torque steer is trying to pull the car in a certain direction, and it’s a lot of fun to put through corners. The steering is nicely weighted, and it doesn’t feel too light — and even with four doors, the Fiesta ST feels like a small, tossable hot hatchback, just as you’d hope. The gear lever and shift action is also incredibly satisfying: The clutch is a bit vague, but shifting is fun and easy, as is rev-matching — largely due to quick revs.
Where the Fiesta ST falls short, in my opinion, is in the fact that it just can’t do it all: It’s slower than the Focus ST, along with smaller, and not as nice inside. It’s not as fun as the 500 Abarth. But it’s an excellent compromise between the two cars: It’s cheaper than the Focus and it’s more practical than the 500 Abarth, and it’s a truly excellent hot hatch that you can enjoy one minute and use the next minute to move a couple of chairs and a television. And what more could you really want from a hot hatch?
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.