First World Problem: Ford Fiesta Zetec S 1.0 Ecoboost 140 Vs Fiesta ST

Intro Looks Practicality / Spec Engine / Performance
Driving / NVH On track Fiesta Zetec S Vs ST Options / Verdict

The Mk7.5 Fiesta ST had quite a good run ever since it was launched – it hadn’t just stolen the limelight from the Fiesta range, it’d gone and stolen it from both its rivals and bigger Focus ST brother too.

Running one for 18 months also proved to be the most fun daily to have lived in FWM’s garage. I still want it back, but for several reasons (of which you’ll find here), I thought it’d be best to give this 1.0-litre Zetec S 140 a go.
Ultimately, if this can keep me from wanting an ST, then that’s mission accomplished.

On paper, stretching to the marginally higher purchase price for an ST-1 might seem like a no-brainer, but if you look beyond that initial outlay, this 1.0-litre Zetec S 140 (or even a Black / Red edition here in the UK), is arguably the more comprehensive proposition.

The ride is better, it’s cheaper to fuel / tax and there are more optional extra’s available. Even the bodykit is neigh-on identical. There’s enough entertainment to be had dynamically too, sporting it’s own stiffened-up chassis settings over the regular models.

What you might find lacking will be those Recaro seats, the engine noise (there’s no symposer here), a shorter gearlever, the seat-shoving performance from its 41bhp deficit, and the ‘flickability’ of its stiffer chassis.

Is the Fiesta Zetec S a diluted Fiesta ST?

Without doubt, but I think that suggests a far more negative perception than it really is. The Zetec S may be a big enough step away from the ST but after driving down an entertaining stretch of road, the reality is you won’t be left feeling particularly shortchanged. A well driven Zetec S will still be hard enough to keep up with / shake off.

With a more forgiving setup than the ST, driving the Zetec S is simply less of a full-on experience. And less bumpy. The chassis on the whole gets to breathe a bit more and its pretty much the same for the driver too. While the ST is enthusiastic all the time, the Zetec S is in a subtly good mood.

The stronger damping on the ST always makes the car feel like its squatting, trying its best to stay low to the ground, whereas the Zetec S feels slightly more lighthearted in approach; taking things more gently in its stride. That extra forgiveness and pliancy just means you have to work a little harder for any wayward malarky – about 20% harder – which for some could be even more rewarding.

In short, the Zetec S is just a much more quieter, refined, and relaxed approach to liberate yourself with down a back road. In all honesty, it’s more preferable for most of the time and altogether more acceptable on a daily basis.

What about the grunt?

The ST’s extra grunt isn’t necessarily always a good thing either. That ST-level of performance is great, but the elasticated feeling from the harder-pulling engine soon becomes addictive and altogether more frustrating over the times when you can’t use it.

If you haven’t been in an ST, what you won’t know won’t hurt you. The performance of the Zetec S is usable for more of the time, and less infuriating for when you can’t. Having less power means you get to work it more, and the lower amount of outright torque means there are fewer chances of tyre-scrabbling, and so traction levels will always feel good.

Sure enough, there’s also less noise in terms of volume, but the thrummy, off-beat, 3-pot sound is still a joy.

Mountune’s (warranty invalidating) MR165 kit might help towards that performance void too, taking power up to 163bhp, torque up to 180lb ft, and dropping the 0 – 62mph time to 7.2 secs.  However, that package will cost about the same as that initial price difference though!

So, has the Fiesta Zetec S filled the void of the Fiesta ST?

There’s no denying that I ultimately still yearn for an ST (it’s just that bit more mischievous),  but I’d say the Zetec S has done really well to entertain as much as the ST ~70 – 75% of the time. This is enough for me to not miss an ST until I physically see one.

And that’s before we even delve into the issue of insurance, road tax, and Ford’s claims of reaching 62.8mpg combined. This comfortably trumps the ST’s 47.9mpg but I must confess, I haven’t found a time when I’ve wanted to beat the 47mpg figure. I’m normally quite patient enough to do this but I just can’t resist wringing out this engine just that bit more than normal. You’re just encouraged to use the performance.

For those who are adverse to the ride or running costs etc of the ST, this 1.0-litre engine and chassis setup makes for a much more convincing Zetec S model in the Fiesta range than even the Zetec S model as a Focus – especially when viewed as a precursor to the ST.

Given the power output I still think this Zetec S could be a bit quicker,  but I guess by then it’d be really treading on the ST’s toes wouldn’t it?

Job well done.

Spec: Zetec S Ecoboost 140 2015.5MY
Engine: 1.0 Turbo Petrol, 138bhp (@ 6000rpm), 155lb ft (@ 1400rpm)
Transmission: 5 Speed Manual 
Mpg: Official: 62.8mpg Achieved: 43 - 47mpg 
Performance: 0-62mph: 9.0 Secs, 125mph 
Colour: Candy Red 
Running Period: Autumn 2015 – Present 
Options -  Modena Full Leather Pack (Inc Heated Seats), 14" Spare wheel, Rear Privacy Glass, EATC Climate Control, Cruise Control, Automatic Headlights, Convenience Pack (Keyless Entry, Starter Button, Folding Door Mirrors & Puddle Lights), City Pack (Parking Sensors & Electric Door Mirrors), Active City Stop, Ford Navigation / DAB System

5 thoughts on “First World Problem: Ford Fiesta Zetec S 1.0 Ecoboost 140 Vs Fiesta ST

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