May 01, 2014 By Kevin C. Limjoco

2014 Ford Fiesta ST


Words & Photos: Kevin C. Limjoco

Green with Envy!

The execution of the classic formula for a hot hatch couldn’t get any simpler: install a powerful engine/drivetrain into an existing small/light chassis. Ford has been doing it for years for motorsports and for rabid enthusiasts with huge success spurning numerous cult classic products spanning several decades now, but mostly in Europe. For the US market, it was always the Mustang that delivered most of the thrills with a sprinkle of SHO Taurus. Ever since Alan Mulally took over Ford and avoided the “bailout,” his spectacular leadership has made practically every new Ford a sincerely solid product. As a kid in the 70’s and 80’s, I pined for the cool Ford hot hatches that were often used and won as rally cars. These cars were always the unreachable Fords from the European market. So with Alan Mulally’s ONE Ford Plan, all of a sudden the very best of Ford in the world will be mostly available for everyone to enjoy; for example, Mustangs will no longer be primarily a North American product while the US now gets the Focus and Fiesta from Europe. Sure, many varied grey-market models got imported everywhere for particular customers who were willing to pay more without factory support. But more than that, Mulally recognized the need to refine their product ranges too, by cutting 97 models to just 20 so that Ford can concentrate its efforts into manufacturing the best products possible without spreading their resources and attentions.


So, behold the mighty little hulk in these pages, the awesome new 5-door Fiesta ST! Europe can still get the Fiesta ST in weight-saving 3 doors (130 pounds lighter!) though, blast them! Currently on its 6th generation, the Fiesta, in its original “S” trim sold domestically, which had a 120 bhp 1.6-liter engine mated to a 6-speed PowerShift (DCT), was already an entertaining and flexible little hatchback. Now try to imagine the same car with up to 77 bhp and an even more impressive up to 102 pounds of additional torque! This leads me to two areas which I need to discuss immediately: 1) However relentless Ford has been in offering new great products these past couple of years, they had two local mistakes: dropping the 2.0-liter diesel (Duratorq TDCi) engine in the Focus and replacing the 1.6-liter engine in the Fiesta ST only happens transiently on overboost at 21 psi for 15 seconds during wide open throttle aggressive driving. Once you lift off the throttle, the overboost timer resets. So, during most of the time you are driving, the normal consistent power is actually at 170 bhp and maximum torque varies between 177 lb ft considering the little car weighs 2,720 pounds, which has about the same power to weight ratio as the new Mini Cooper S hardtop coupe.


However good the Fiesta ST is, it cannot match the painless athleticism, design, and workmanship of the Mini Copper S with the new 2.0-liter turbo engine for only $2,000.00 more. Ironically for roughly another $500.00 on top of that, you could actually get a Ford Fiesta ST! But if you want a very small, nimble car to toss around, the Fiesta ST is actually more tenacious and less forgiving than the Focus ST since Ford actually employed a more aggressive suspension setup on its smaller force-fed sibling. The brakes are upgraded; the fronts are slightly larger at 10.9 inches versus solid discs instead of drums with performance pads. The suspension has also been naturally upgraded to support the new high performance role with a 75% stiffer rear twist torsion-beam while the car sits 0.6 inch lower to the pavement. The ST’s front knuckles of the McPherson struts have different attachment points to the control arm with increased camber gain as the wheels strike, which creates a more dramatic connection to the driver with a lot of steering feedback despite the electric steering, which also got its sporty treatment through a quicker ratio, dropping from 14.6:1 to 13.6:1. The spring rates on all corners are up by 20% while the dampers got recalibrated for tauter handling. There is also a thicker front anti-roll bar too, which works in collaboration with the fully automatic non-mechanical Torque Vectoring system first experienced with the Focus so the car drives with considerably less understeer than the standard Fiesta. You will not miss having a mechanical LSD, until the brakes cook…which they won’t on normal occasions anyway. The stick wheels are heavy duty 17” x 7.5” alloys shod with grippy Bridgestone Potenza RE050A 205/40R17 84W tires. All the new systems combined make the Fiesta ST drive like a go-kart, which is great if you are a very active youth.

Our test unit had the design-heavy RECARO® sport bucket (emphasis on bucket!) front seats with matching material/pattern rear seats. These seats along with the fabulous steering wheel and gear knob are pretty much the only distinguishing features that separate the ST from the standard car’s interior. The optional RECARO® seat package costs $1995; navigation $795; and if you get the 17-inch metallic gray wheels with red brake calipers, that’s another $375; a moonroof goes for $795. The audio system has eight speakers driven by a pitiful 100 watts, but, to be fair, it does sound better than the system on the standard Fiesta. Our test car also had the 6.5-inch color LCD center touchscreen along with the usual package of digital connectivity, which all worked satisfactorily. The ST’s exterior beyond the extroverted paint does not have the “Aston Martin” design upgrade as it needs a larger front grill to channel air into the intercooler. There is the mandatory but tasteful body kit with the fairly large rear spoiler and a chrome-tipped dual exhaust. Our Fiesta ST test unit did not have parking sensors, a rear camera, LED DRL, or projector headlights.


When I was blasting around the tight and seemingly endless curves in our heavily forested test ground, with the engine roaring like it was a much larger tuned engine, I loved the Fiesta ST. That roar, by the way, is a bit of a cheat but I’ll take it because it’s authentic instead of synthetic; Ford uses a “Sound Symposer” where an electronically controlled valve triggers only under heavy acceleration amplifying the sound produced by the engine and channeling it along a pipe to the dashboard panel. It was tireless and always willing to please. The transmission was spot on and I liked the aluminum pedal arrangements, which suited my driving style too. When the overboost would kick in, there would be that moment of sheer motorized rage that can be very addicting. There is no doubt that the 1.6 – liter direct injection turbo Ford engine is a genuine mechanical achievement. I can clearly see this engine being further used in other models and trims. We already raved about it when we first drove the Fusion SE, which had it without the overboost feature, and it was already remarkable. But on regular roads or when I was just doing pedestrian routines and chores, the ride got very tiresome. I am definitely not its target market but I certainly appreciate its abilities and the promise of solo fun.


Engine: Inline-4 1596cc, dohc 16V, Direct Injection Intercooled Turbo Ti-VCT, 6-speed MT
Max Power: 180 bhp (197 bhp overboost @ 580 rpm) @ 6000rpm
Max Torque: 202 lb-ft (214 lb-ft overboost @ 3500 rpm) @ 4200 rpm
0-100 km/h (0-62mph): 6.8 sec
Top speed: 225 km/h (142 mph)
Fuel Mileage: 26 mpg City & 35mpg Highway
Price as tested: US$ 25,580.00

+A genuine rocket in every way yet extremely frugal when needed
– No HID/projector headlight options in the US so far

Rating: 10/10

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