Ford's pocket rocket has been given an optional power boost. But is it worth the extra money?
At $25,990 plus on-road costs, the Ford Fiesta ST provides the most bang for your bucks, undercutting the rest of the hot hatch competition. But that price is set to rise $1500 to $27,490 from September 2016, when it gains navigation, a rear-view camera with a higher resolution display, and illuminated scuff plates. What we have here is the $25,990 model with the optional $2328 Mountune kit from Ford that claims to boost power from 134kW/240Nm to 158kW/320Nm (for Fiesta geeks that's higher than the standard ST's 15-second “overboost” mode of 147kW/290Nm). The average fuel consumption rating goes from 6.2 to 6.9L/100km. If you get the Mountune kit fitted at a Ford dealer, it retains the three-year/100,000km factory warranty.
The Fiesta ST is already one of the purest hot hatches.
The bolstered Recaro sports seats can make it feel like your underwear is creeping up, but at least they keep you pinned. It needs to be this way because the Fiesta ST's sharp handling would have you thrown about the cabin otherwise. The interior is showing its age but most mod cons are covered. A rear camera (and nav, among other items) becomes standard with the September 2016 price rise.
Seven airbags and a five-star safety rating. Good road holding also deserves a mention, as do the four-wheel brake discs which have plenty of bite. There's also a “go slow” key that limits top speed and radio volume in case a teenager wants to borrow the car.
The standard 1.6-litre turbo engine is astoundingly elastic in its power delivery, and always feels like it's ready to go.
The Fiesta ST is already one of the purest hot hatches. It fits like a glove and you can feel the car react to every tiny movement of the throttle, steering or brakes. But the suspension can give you a little too much feedback on bumps. The standard 1.6-litre turbo engine is astoundingly elastic in its power delivery, and always feels like it's ready to go. So imagine our disappointment when the Mountune version didn't really feel any different to a standard Fiesta ST. We ran the numbers on a satellite-based timing device to satisfy our curiosity. The absolute best we could manage in the 0 to 100kmh dash was 7.0 seconds. Ford claims 6.9 for the standard car; performance magazines have squeezed a 6.97 and a 7.0 neat out of the standard car. In-gear acceleration felt exactly the same as the standard car. The Mountune-equipped car had done 2800km, so it was run-in. And our test conditions were perfect: cool air temperature, a smooth, dry, grippy road, and we repeatedly got good launches. Having done 5500km in a Fiesta ST I previously owned, I regretfully report this Mountune kit wasn't any quicker in 0 to 100kmh tests or in real world in-gear acceleration.
Volkswagen Polo GTI ... $27,490
Powered by a 1.8-litre turbo (131kW/320Nm) this car is a missile in a straight line, but doesn't handle corners as well as the Ford Fiesta ST.
Citroen DS3 ... $33,990
Similar performance to the Fiesta ST thanks to a similarly sized 1.6-litre turbo (although down on power: 121kW/240Nm), but it doesn't corner as well and the price is way too steep.
Peugeot 208 GTI ... $30,990
Has a more powerful 1.6-litre turbo (147kW/275Nm), handles well and is priced better than the Citroen, but it's still dearer than the Fiesta ST and Polo GTI.