Ferris Has Grown Up.
I was previously the very happy owner of a 2014 Ford Fiesta ST (which I reviewed for this website). I had christened this vehicle Ferris after the 1980’s movie Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. The old Fiesta was like Ferris; it was small, cheeky and a whole lot of fun. They never did make a sequel to Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, but after a long wait Ford Australia has finally delivered a sequel to the original Fiesta ST. And let me tell you, unlike some movie sequels, this is much better than the original.
Like most Ford Fiesta enthusiasts, I was a bit concerned when it was revealed the new ST would be downsizing its engine from the previous model's 1.6-litre 4-cylinder turbocharged engine to a 1.5-litre 3-cylinder engine. But then reports and reviews started filtering in from Europe where the current model has been on sale for over two years, detailing what an amazing piece of kit the new engine was. So, to say I was a bit excited when I got the chance to finally buy one of the first ST’s to arrive in the country would be an understatement.
The engine is incredibly strong with a decent amount of torque for something so small. 147kW of power and 290Nm of torque from a 3-cylinder. It’s hard to explain the push you get back into the driver’s seat when you floor the throttle, but it’s definitely a ten on the smile-o-meter. This feels just as strong (if not stronger) than my previous Fiesta, which was fitted with the Mountune performance upgrade. I’ve completed about 2500 kilometres in my new ST and fuel use is roughly 7.1 litres per 100 kilometres. Quite acceptable considering the type of driving I’m doing. I imagine this may even improve when the engine loosens up with more kilometres on the clock. The 6-speed manual transmission is perfectly mated to the engine with snappy gear changes.
The engine note is also a pleasant surprise, particularly when the Sport or Race modes are engaged. The engine gives a pop and crackle during lift off and in between gears, which makes most passengers want to drop the windows and turn the stereo down. It reminds me of the 1990’s World Rally cars. There are three engine modes. Firstly, there's Normal, and there's Sport, which seems to sharpen the throttle response and provides an added bark from the exhaust, whilst providing a bit more excitement with the ESP turned down. Finally, there’s Track mode which turns the ESP completely off. There is even a launch control function for added fun.
A big step up from the previous model is definitely the suspension. As with the previous Fiesta ST this current model is still an absolute cracker when powering through corners and is extremely nimble. It lives for corners and I find myself looking for windy roads. However, whilst the previous model would at times add steps to a Fitbit (should anyone in the vehicle be wearing one) due to its stiff suspension tune, this new model is much more refined. Looks like I’ll have to actually do some more exercise to make up for the lost steps on my Fitbit. The tyres are Michelin Pilot Sport 4 which can found be on exotics such as Ferrari’s and Porsche’s. They’re a serious bit of equipment.
The interior of the vehicle is filled with all sorts of creature comforts. The 8-inch touchscreen is a huge improvement and encompasses sat-nav/DAB radio, AM/FM and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto. The stereo is a 10-speaker Bang and Olufsen model, which sounds fantastic. The Ford Sync system links easily with phones and can even change radio stations through voice commands. Heated seats, heated steering wheel, heated front windscreen, auto high beam lights and speed sign identification are just some of the niceties you get that you wouldn’t expect in a $35,000 hot hatch. It’s an incredibly comfortable place to sit with those front Recaro’s.
Another big difference from the previous model (for Australia at least) is the switch to a 5-door body shell, as opposed to the previous three doors - though the wheelbase itself isn’t much bigger than the previous model. The back seats are adequate for short trips for adults or longer trips for kids. A snazzy feature found on the four doors, which my wife likes more than anything else, are the little protectors that protrude on the edge of the doors when opened so as not to damage the doors on another nearby parked car or wall. Again, this is something you may expect to see on something German that costs a lot more.
The styling of the ST is very different from the previous model. The front has the angry-looking grille and the side profile looks low and lean. The wheels and especially the red brake calipers give the car real presence. Personally, I love the look, however I do think more could have been done with the rear of the vehicle to display its sporting characteristics.
Overall Ford has done an amazing job. The previous Fiesta was manic, and you knew you were driving quick. This new model is just as quick, but like Ferris Bueller would have most likely done, it's grown up and does its mischief in a more civilised manner.