Having seen a few of these reviews for a variety of cars, it seemed necessary for me to chip in my thoughts on my little Fiesta ST. In short, I love it. This is a late 2014 build that I've owned from new, and it has never given me one bit of grief. I've come from a variety of fairly plain cars of my folks' and my own (Mk VI Golfs, Mazdas, Ford Focus), so the ST was my first foray into a more sporting car, and I would never go back.
Why? It's so much fun, all the time... And with virtually no downsides!
Practical things first. This is a fairly small car. You can fit five adults in the car, but the back seat is a squeeze and I rarely use it. However, I can comfortably fit my road bike in the back and a surfboard – 7ft 6in will go in comfortably, longer would be difficult. So it does all the hauling I need.
There's no fancy infotainment or touchscreens here, because the Fiesta model was pretty long in the tooth even before the ST, but you still get Bluetooth and a decent audio. I don't care about the rest. Plenty of storage options if you need them. Fuel economy is great – I usually sit around mid to low sixes on premium – mainly city driving, and pretty aggressive at that.
So that's the boring stuff. I bought it for the fun stuff. It's a surprisingly rare car, but there's a great community of owners out there and I always greet other STers with a wave. It's like being part of the fun club that others don't even know exists. I can't imagine Porsche drivers waving to each other. There's a lot of support for modifying the car, taking it on the track and just generally enjoying it.
I never considered tracking a car before this one. I thought it was exclusively for Lotuses, Cayman GT4s and the like. Well, I was wrong. I've taken my Fiesta out a few times now and it's a cracker. On the straights it struggles a little, but in the corners this will keep up with WRXs and more. Lap times are pretty much on point with an 86. The Fiesta, being a turbo, is a bit more spirited getting out of corners, but in a long straight the 86 probably has a bit more at the top end. You'll perhaps be dismissed to start with, but pass a few WRX STIs that aren't driven with full commitment and you'll earn that back!
Ease off the ESC and it starts to be a little more lively – some lift-off oversteer, and the three-wheeling around corners that it's famous for. The suspension tune is spot-on for the track and feedback is excellent – you'll always know where grip levels are at. The brakes are excellent and I've never had a hint of fade. I've had some instructors drive the car and they've been very impressed by the brakes.
Only one negative point – there's a bit of a gap between second and third, which is where the car would like to sit in a lot of linked turns. Third is too high a ratio without sufficient boost for the turbo, second is too low, and if you redline this there's a cut-out that'll drop power and revs like a parachute.
On the road that suspension tune is noticeably firm – you will feel every imperfection. But that's part of the joy. Inside the cabin, the engine sounds great (courtesy of a sound symposer) and there's a nice hiss from the BOV. This car encourages you to drive hard, and fortunately because it's not 911 quick, I'm yet to get a ticket for that.
It's been a low-cost car to run, with reasonable service costs. A new pair of front tyres will probably last three track sessions depending on the track, and they're reasonably cheap. I haven't had to replace brake pads yet at 35,000km.
I haven't modified the car at all, and I probably won't, though it has been very tempting. Mountune offers a factory-approved warranty-retaining upgrade, but to be honest, I don't think more power is that necessary. It already struggles for traction from a standing start. I would prefer a genuinely louder exhaust without the need for the symposer. I've watched my car fly by full-throttle at Queensland Raceway and it's like a ghost, or electric, and almost silent.
So, in summary, it's a cracker of a car and I fully recommend it for anyone interested in starting a bit of track driving. It's cheap, friendly and guaranteed to put a smile on your face. It's raised the bar pretty high for me, and I can't imagine how I'm going to find that balance of fun and practicality. Maybe a Focus RS?