Dec 08, 2014
Reviewed By Chad Tyson
Price as Tested $25,955: 1.6-liter 197-hp turbocharged I4, 214 ft-lbs torque
Likes

The best part? The combination of 197 horsepower and 2,700 pounds. The rest of the package was an acquired taste, but we’ll get to that. First and foremost: This car is an equal blast slipping through traffic and around hilly bends outside of town. The ST gets a quicker steering ratio of 13.6:1, compared to the base Fiesta’s 14.3:1. Yes, it’s fractions of a number on a screen, but the cornering prowess of the ST is no joke. I thought it might improve my driving like rally driver Ken Block, but no such luck. Over my weekend with the ST I grew to like the Molten Orange paint — in a car this fun, it’s good to be bold. Speaking of bold: that grille. The Recaro package included two front seats that will hug a body tightly in corners and be comfortable for hours at a time. The radio works just fine, but above 3,000 rpm, the sound of the engine is even better.

Dislikes

The tight suspension transmitted every paint stripe on the road directly to my vertebrae. Not a “dislike” necessarily, but not something I want every time I get in a car. Electric-boosted steering is tolerable at best. Have I mentioned how small this car is? Although there are separate doors to access the rear seats, it is quite another thing to make use of them while there are adult humans in the front seats. There were several rumblings from other staffers about the shifter’s placement being a little too far forward, but I say that’s their punishment for having long legs. Still, the seating position was difficult to nail down. The thing about the Recaro seats: while the back of the seat cushion is adjustable up and down, the front-edge height stays fixed. That resulted in an awkward sitting position — at least until I got used to it. The biggest dislike? The infotainment touchscreen. I’ve seen mini tablets with bigger touchscreens than the phone-sized screen in this car. It was hard enough to press the small buttons while parked in a lot. I didn’t even try on the road. Ford can and should address this.

Verdict

Fantastic fun for the money. Perfect for the city. But as is the case with most “hot hatches,” it isn’t a “dream car” — there are just too many compromises. From the cheap, tacky plastic dash to colored leather inserts, this Fiesta shows its obvious roots as an economy car. The upsides are high, however. The engine, transmission and steering are all top of its class. You’re driving the street version of Ken Block’s rally winner. For the equipment-heavy enthusiasts, there are four different THULE roof racks options, ranging from $159 to $485. Those will definitely help make up for the lack of space inside the car. Although we reviewed a 2014 model-year ST, the 2015 is poised to be the same car with minor updates and a starting price of $20,945. This is an absolute must-drive if you’re looking at a Mini Cooper Works or Fiat 500 Abarth.

Fun to Drive
4.5 rating
Fun to Look at
4.0 rating
Overall Experience
4.0 rating
Stats
EPA Mileage 26 city/35 highway

For more about this car, please visit the manufacturer's website.