Ford aimed for continued leadership of the supermini-shaped hot hatch segment with this car. The third generation Ford Fiesta ST launched in 2018. Of course, for not much more than the affordable prices that will get you one of these, you can buy more power. But after a drive in one of these, you probably won’t want to.
The History of the Ford Fiesta ST
Want to know just how much fun it’s possible to have in a ferociously fast small supermini? Then try one of these. The third generation version of Ford’s Fiesta ST. Launched in 2018, it was developed like a proper performance car and it drives like one too.
If any supermini was ever going to be the perfect starting point for a class-leading hot hatch, you’d think it would be Ford’s Fiesta. It’s been long acknowledged as the driver’s choice amongst small runabouts and it has a shopping rocket legacy that goes all the way back to the XR2 of 1981. With a history subsequently embellished by the more powerful RS1800 and RS Turbo variants that followed it.
Curiously though, none of these models ever quite hit the spot for serious enthusiasts. Throughout the Eighties, Nineties and Noughties, they tended to prefer French hot hatch rivals. First a series of small Peugeot GTis, then in more recent years, the Renaultsport Clio. Only with the second generation Fiesta ST of 2012, this MK3 car’s predecessor, did Ford finally get their attention. The company aimed to keep it with this third generation model, which claimed to offer the most responsive, rewarding and engaging Fiesta experience yet.
Unlike its rivals, the Blue Oval always had several performance badges up its sleeve when it came to cars of this sort. ‘ST’ being industry jargon for ‘quick but not concussive’. A performance level that sat just above the fast-but-family-friendly ‘ST-Line’ models but just below track-spec RS derivatives.
What does that mean here? Well you might have a few misgivings about the fact that this car’s 1.5-litre EcoBoost engine has just three cylinders. But it puts out a lusty 200PS and powers this car to 62mph in just 6.5s. In addition, there are drive modes to tune performance for road and track. Launch Control for Grand Prix-style standing starts and force vectoring and a limited slip differential for tenacious traction through the corners. The MK3 Fiesta ST sold in this form until late 2021, when it was facelifted. It’s the 2018-2021-era versions though, that we look at here.
The Cost of a Ford Fiesta ST
Prices for the pre-facelift MK3 Fiesta ST start at around £13,850 (around £15,650 retail). For an early ’18-era ‘ST-1’-spec car; allow around £600 more for the mid-range ‘ST-2’-spec that most original buyers chose. And prioritise cars fitted with the optional ‘Performance Pack’. A typical late-’21-plate ST-2 model values at around £23,550 (around £25,750 retail).
An air filter costs around £10 and an oil filter costs around £7. Front brake pads sit in the £32 bracket for a set; rear brake pad sets start from around £41. Front brake discs can be as affordable as around £64; rear brake discs are from around £56. Wiper blades cost in the £6 to £23 bracket. Try not to damage the rear lamp cluster; a replacement unit costs in the £70 bracket. A pollen filter costs in the £12-£21 bracket. If you need replacement parts for your Ford Fiesta ST get in touch.
Significant Features of the Ford Fiesta ST
It’s easy to go overboard and get all ‘Max Power’ when it comes to a car of this kind. A temptation Ford again carefully resisted here. This isn’t the prettiest junior shopping rocket you can buy from its period, but it is playfully purposeful in demeanour. The business end dominated by smart honeycomb-finished upper and lower front grilles. Move to the side and you get a better perspective for the slightly bigger size of the car in MK3 form.
This was the first Fiesta ST. In fact the first properly sporting Fiesta of any kind to be available with five doors. Though the supposedly slightly sportier three-door version also continued. In short, you won’t be embarrassed to park this youthful junior hot hatch up at the office. But would you feel awkward about giving your boss a ride home?
Probably not. The cabin is a huge improvement on what went before. Avoid entry-level ‘ST-1’ trim and once again, Recaro sports seats make an appearance. But this time Ford remembered to include height adjustment and position them properly low so you feel more part of the driving experience. You also get a thick, grippy leather-stitched sports steering wheel and a silver finish for the pedals, the gearstick and the handbrake. Plus there are ‘Performance’-branded door sill trims.
You get carbon fibre-style trim around the dash and most models feature blue-trimmed seat belts. But these trendy touches are easy to miss and otherwise, there’s relatively little about this cabin that shouts ‘hot hatch’. Otherwise, the main news lies with the centre-dash SYNC 3 infotainment screen. Which is 6-inches in size on the base model but grows to a preferable 8-inch display further up the range. And in the process gains navigation and a 10-speaker B&O Play premium audio system.
And rear seat space? Well, the heavily bolstered Recaros do slightly hinder your access into the back. But if that’s an issue, you’d obviously opt for the alternative five-door body style. Once you’re inside, the rear compartment’s actually nicer to sit in than the claustrophobically rising beltline of the three-door body shape might lead you to expect. Headroom’s manageable even for a six-footer. Though their legs will be crushed pretty snugly against the seat in front if the folk ahead are of a lankier build.
And the boot. Well we should give you the total cargo capacity figure – 292-litres, which meets the class standard. If you need more room, pushing forward the 60:40-split rear backrest frees up 1,093-litres.
Potential Issues with the Ford Fiesta ST
We haven’t heard of too many problems with this MK3 Fiesta ST. There were reports of possible oil leaks on early cars, but that was quickly fixed. Look out for hesitancy in first and second gear on initial application of throttle, which may be a harbinger of an engine oil leak. We’ve also heard reports of squeaks and noises from the driver side pillar and the dashboard. A few owners have reported sagging seat material and loose fabric trim. Otherwise just carry out all the usaul checks you would when purchasing a used car.
At Vospers we always conduct a multi-point safety check and whenever possible we will provide you with the cars service history. For more information on how we ensure you are getting the best out of buying a used car from Vospers check out our peace of mind policy here.
The Ford Fiesta ST Driving Experience
It isn’t often with a small hot hatch that the engineers get things absolutely right. Either compromises are made for day-to-day driveability that rob you of that last ultimate enth of response when you’re really pushing on. Or you get a race-bred rocket that loves a smooth circuit but’s so firm that it simply gets on your nerves in everyday motoring.
Let’s cut to the conclusion here: with this MK3 ST, the balance between these two extremes is as good as it’s probably ever going to be. Right up-front, you might be worried about a down-shift in performance with the switch to three cylinder power for this third generation model. Don’t be. The 1.5-litre EcoBoost engine pushes output up to the 200PS level that the previous 1.6-litre four cylinder engine needed an overboost function to reach. Yet it still returns 47.1mpg on the combined cycle and 136g/km of CO2 (both NEDC figures), thanks to a clever cylinder deactivation system, at the time the first ever fitted to a three cylinder unit.
It sounds great too, particularly if you switch into the two dynamic drive modes provided, ‘Sport’ (which sharpens the acceleration and steering) and ‘Track’, which delivers an even firmer response at the helm and slackens off the stability control for circuit use. More Grand Prix-style gadgetry features in the optional ‘ST Performance Pack’ you’ll need to search for in a used model. This includes a Quaife limited slip difference for extra cornering bite, plus ‘Performance Shift Lights’ and a ‘Launch Control’ set-up. On all MK3 Fiestas STs, frequency-selective race-style dampers and special ‘force vectoring’ springs allowed the engineers to improve the previous model’s unyielding ride quality whilst still keeping the taut cornering feel.
Plus there was a wider track, a super-sharply responsive steering rack, a more rigid body, an uprated high performance braking system, eTVC torque vectoring for extra cornering precision and a specially developed set of Michelin Pilot Super Sport tyres. The result of all this engineering is a very special package indeed. As you’ll realise after the first few seconds of driving it.
Designed by enthusiasts to be driven by enthusiasts, this fast MK3 Fiesta ST was poised, priced to sell and, with 200PS on tap, plenty quick enough. It was the best car of its kind that Ford had ever brought us. And back in 2018, it retained market segment leadership on merit.
In all honesty, you’d probably have more fun in this little Ford on a public road than you ever could in something pricier and more powerful. Think of it as one-up for the common man, small perhaps in price and performance but big in smiles per mile. Which, at the end of the day, is exactly what a hot hatch should really be all about. If you are interested in buying a used Ford Fiesta ST enquire now.