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2018 Ford Fiesta ST packs three-pot punch

Ford has unveiled its third-generation Fiesta ST ahead of its public debut at the Geneva motor show next month, which will debut a powerful and frugal 1.5-litre turbocharged three-cylinder petrol engine.

The new all-aluminium powerplant produces 149kW of power and 290Nm of torque, offering 15kW and 50Nm of extra potency over the 1.6-litre turbo four employed by the outgoing second-gen ST.

Thanks to the heart transplant, a sprint from 0-100km/h will now take 6.7 seconds – a reduction of two-tenths – which matches that of its direct hot hatch competitors the Volkswagen Polo GTI, Renault Clio RS Sport and Mini Cooper S

However, the Polo still takes class honours with its 320Nm when paired with a manual gearbox, but the Fiesta will reign supreme with its revised kilowatt count.

With a combined cycle fuel consumption figure of 4.8L/100km and just 114 grams of CO2 emissions per kilometre, the Fiesta ST has segment-leading efficiency thanks to its unique three-pot drivetrain.

The Blue Oval's application of cylinder deactivation technology in a production three-cylinder is a world-first, with the unit becoming a two-potter under light load conditions.

Transmission options are yet to be confirmed by Ford, but video and images released by the brand depict a manual gearbox, which suggests the sporty Fiesta will continue to be a manual-only proposition – just like its predecessor and the Focus ST and RS.

Additionally, a drive mode selector has filtered down from the Focus RS, giving the driver a choice of normal, sport and track settings for the drivetrain, steering and electronic stability control calibration.

This will mark the first time the range-topping Fiesta will be offered as a five-door.

Each of these settings also vary the electronically enhanced engine sound and control a valve in the exhaust system, which helps accentuate the triple’s bellow.

Torque vectoring has also been added, helping to reduce understeer and improve traction by gradually applying brake pressure to the inside front wheel when cornering.

This will mark the first time the range-topping Fiesta will be offered as a five-door, in addition to the three-door body style which will still be on offer as per the previous-generation.

Inside the cabin, an 8.0-inch touchscreen powered by Ford's Sync3 multimedia system offers support for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, as well as pinch and swipe gestures. 

A Bang & Olufsen Play premium audio system will also be available, thanks to the carmaker’s technology partnership with the Danish audio-visual specialist.

Recaro sports seats and a flat-bottomed steering wheel, in addition to customisable trims and styling packs, highlight the other upgrades to the Fiesta’s interior.

An ST exclusive 'Liquid Blue' exterior paint colour will make its debut, as well as a bespoke bodykit and 18-inch alloy wheel design.

A local release date for the hot hatch and the rest of the next-gen Fiesta range is yet to be confirmed by Ford Australia, but the ST is scheduled to go on sale globally early next year.

Has engine-downsizing gone too far with the arrival of a three-cylinder hot hatch? Tell us what you think in the comments below.