You don’t have to drive very far to discover that Ford finally gave the Fiesta ST a properly sorted engine.
With variable valve timing and a fixed-geometry turbo, the 1.6-litre engine in the Fiesta ST produces 182hp and 177ft lb torque. 0-62mph happens in 6.9 seconds and top speed is 139mph.
While this may not appear to be the most powerful car in its class at first, there is something beneath the surface of those figures.
Headline stats don’t appear to be everything…
Thanks to an overboost function, the little ST actually runs up to 197hp and 214ft lb torque for brief moments of acceleration. This temporary burst of extra power is also the reason why you may have seen Ford advertise different figures from here in the UK compared to those in America.
The overboost function works for up to 15 seconds each time you put your foot down, and even though that may not sound like much, you’d be hard pushed to find somewhere to accelerate for that long on UK roads. The only time we can theoretically think of the difference in performance being noticed will be on a high-speed track.
Trading rev-hungry antics for mid-range shove
Downsizing from the previous 2.0-litre lump hasn’t been a bad decision here. This smaller-capacity, 1.6-litre turbocharged engine doesn’t feel as asthmatic as the naturally-aspirated engine fitted in the last Fiesta ST, and avoids feeling like it imminently needs the Mountune kit in order for it to breathe properly.
The engine feels elastic, progressively delivering its power under boost like an expanding balloon, with a large, flat torque curve peaking lower down in the rev range to pull the Fiesta along much more eagerly than it used to.
There’s a hint of turbo lag in the higher gears , but the car feels light enough on its feet to not feel bogged down. There’s enough torque for you to drive it like a normal Fiesta and cruise, yet it’s quick enough to reassuringly shove you into the seats. Bar the times when our heads smack back onto the headrest, the immediacy is addictive.
Unsurprisingly, the trade-off for this muscular character is an engine that doesn’t respond to throttle inputs as instantly as the old 2.0-litre. The rev needle doesn’t sweep towards the red line as rapidly as a naturally-aspirated engine – including the 1.6-litre TI-VCT unit fitted in our previous Fiesta Zetec S.
Lift off the throttle, go for a gearchange and the revs drop at a more leisurely rate too, with the sensation of a heavier flywheel attached. Memories of the frantic Clio 182 for example are sadly diminished!
The gearing is set moderately too: possessing shorter ratios than the Focus Zetec S with the same engine, it requires 3rd gear to reach 60mph – rather than 2nd in the bigger vehicle. It’ll still cruise below 3,000rpm on the motorway in 6th gear though, and even if we reckon it could rev even lower at 70mph, it’s a well-judged balance of relaxed motorway overtakes and the exhaust and engine/symposer not generating too much boom into the cabin.
There is no doubt that we miss that sense of occasion and reward from a naturally-aspirated engine with its higher red line, but we soon remember how infuriating it could be below that threshold when the mood surpassed us.
Relativity’s a funny thing…
This is by far the fastest daily we’ve owned so far and everything else we’ve driven since has felt relatively slower – strangely enough, even the huge 442lb ft shove of torque on the Range Rover Sport has been tamed and doesn’t seem as hard-hitting as before.
Benchmarking against a Renault Clio 172 and a couple of six-cylinder BMW 3 Series’ (E36 323 and E46 330i), with their naturally-aspirated engines have resulted in them trailing behind, while being able to keep up with a Honda S2000 (just) and a Mk2.5 Focus ST has been a positive sign of progression.
A BMW 420d with its mammoth torque can catch you off guard and put you right back in place though before you get cocky mind…
Since moving from the previous Focus Zetec S with the same engine, the Fiesta ST has proven to feel much quicker than we were expecting – more so than the 1 second difference in 0-62mph times suggested.
The smooth spot at 5,000rpm is less apparent over the Focus and the power does tail off at a more noticeable rate above 6,000rpm – leaving little benefit of revving beyond there.
So, while the Fiesta ST may still not be the class leader in terms of power output, the torquey nature means it feels fast enough. For those wanting more though, there’s a Mountune MP215 kit available as an answer; raising figures to 215hp and 236ftlb and dropping the 0-62mph time to 6.6 seconds.
Spec: Fiesta ST-2 Engine: 1.6T Petrol, 197bhp, 214lb ft Transmission: 6 Speed Manual Mpg: Official: 47.9mpg Achieved: 39mpg Performance: 0-62mph: 6.9 Secs, 139mph Colour: Molten Orange Running Period: Summer 2013 - Autumn 2014, 17,500 Miles Options: Cruise Control, 15" Spare Wheel, Rear Centre Head Restraint, Adjustable Boot Floor, Style Pack (Rado Grey Alloys, Red Brake Calipers, Illuminated Scuff Plates), Convenience Pack (Keyless Entry, Folding Door Mirrors & Puddle Lights), Auto-Lights/Wipers, Auto-dimming Rear View Mirror.