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Ford Fiesta ST 2013 review: first drive

The star turn in the new Ford Fiesta range is the hot-hatch ST.

The star turn in the new Ford Fiesta range is the hot-hatch ST. Developed by Ford Team RS, the European arm of Ford’s Global Performance Vehicle group, the sporting Ford Fiesta ST has significant changes to powertrain, suspension, steering and brakes when compared with the rest of the Fiesta range.


With up to 147kW of power and 290Nm of torque available through an overboost function the 1.6-litre four-cylinder EcoBoost petrol engine is the most powerful Fiesta ever. Note that Overboost is there for special occasions, such as track work, and puts added strain on the engine and transmission. When driven normally the Fiesta ST outputs are 134kW of power and 240Nm of torque. As befits a true hot hatch, the Fiesta ST only runs a six-speed manual transmission.


The tasty mechanical treats are backed up by a dynamic three-door design featuring sports body kit, large trapezoidal honeycomb radiator grille, automatic halogen projector headlights with LED daytime running lamps, fog lamps, rear diffuser and twin chrome tipped exhausts. Fiesta ST rolls on 17x7 alloy wheels.

Inside the cabin are cloth Recaro sports seats, leather bound steering wheel, gear knob and handbrake, and pedals with alloy finish. ST mats and door scuff plates and smart key Ford Power starter button, all bathed in ambient LED lighting.


Bluetooth hands-free phone with voice control and USB / iPod connectivity put the tech savvy in contact, while cruise control takes the concern out of keeping to the speed limit. The Fiesta ST also showcases some of Ford’s latest technology including SYNC voice activation to play music, make and receive hands-free calls and call contacts simply by repeating their name.


It almost goes without saying that Ford Fiesta ST received a five-star rating in Australasian crash testing, with all the expected airbag, driving and braking safety features. But safety goes further in the Fiesta ST with the MyKey system.

Ford's global MyKey technology, launched in the new Fiesta ST, is an industry first that allows parents to electronically limit an ‘adult happy’ top speed to 140 km/h. It also offers programmable speed alerts between 70km/h and 140km/h that can’t be deactivated by the MyKey user; reduces maximum radio volume to maintain driver concentration; disables the radio until the seatbelts are fastened and prevents deactivation of driver assistance and safety technologies.

MyKey was given a go by the motoring media at the start of a Fiesta ST test drive in the Victorian countryside on a variety of roads from undulating and twisty blacktop to forest dirt. Seatbelts undone put the radio out of action, while the belt-up reminder would not be silent. The system also chimed in with a warning when the car went through a preset recommended top speed. After a while, a Ford minder switched off MyKey so we could have a grown-up run.

Potentially a major life saver, Emergency Assist is hooked up to Ford’s SYNC system via your mobile phone. If the airbags are deployed or fuel pump shut-off activated, SYNC will dial emergency services, giving them the affected vehicle’s exact GPS co-ordinates. Enhanced Torque Vectoring Control and three-mode Dynamic Stability Control, and rear disc brakes, give the compact hatchback features only previously found in larger high-performance cars.


A clever link between engine and occupants is provided by a new ‘Sound Symposer’ which channels the engine note to the cabin. The resulting distinctive engine roar undoubtedly adds to the driving experience. The Recaro sports seats showed a supportive but far-from-cramped character. An above-average-build colleague said he could live with the rear leg room and found getting in and out of the back a fairly painless manoeuvre.

The six-speed gearshift was on the notchy side, but because of the torque on tap there was little need for constant shifting between cogs, resulting in a surprisingly relaxed drive for such a high performance vehicle. The steering was tight, offering strong feedback from the road. However, the launch run included a 13 kilometre stretch of gravel road which we were assured when set out by Ford had just been graded. 

When we got there rain had reduced the surface to a wet strip punctuated by an array of potholes waiting to destabilise any on-road car – not the best conditions to show off a hot hatch tuned by 7500 kilometres of Ford testing on the sealed-surface racetrack. The Fiesta ST soldiered on and came out the other end with only minor underbody damage. Built in Germany, the Ford Fiesta ST is in showrooms now and at $25,990 should have hot-hatch lovers licking their lips. Like the rest of the Ford Fiesta range the ST is covered by a three-year / 100,000 kilometre warranty and myFord capped price servicing.

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