The hype surrounding the launch of the latest Ford Fiesta ST is no doubt justified, but so too is the admiration afforded to its direct predecessor, which is the latest addition to our collection of half price hot hatches.
Used examples of the Mk7 Ford Fiesta ST now kick off from a fraction under £8,000, which buys you an awful lot of fun.
Be in no doubt this is a proper hot hatch too, even if it lacks the RS badge that adorns Ford’s fastest cars. For a start the Fiesta absolutely looks the part, its 15mm lowered stance, 17-inch alloys and aggressive bodykit enough to add a more muscular aesthetic without being over the top. Then there’s what’s under the bonnet; a 1.6-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine producing a healthy 180bhp. In a car weighing around 1,100kg, that’s easily enough oomph to have some fun, with 0-62mph taking just 6.9 seconds.
Along with the keen pricing when new (the ST started from around £17,000), this all explains why Ford sold so many. Which, of course, is great news for the used buyer too, because it ensures there’s always a healthy supply of cars on the market.
It will be with no small amount of anticipation that you climb into a Fiesta ST, only too aware of just how highly it is regarded. First impressions are excellent, with a good driving position, responsive controls and the car’s small dimensions making you feel instantly at home. This might only be a 1.6, but the growl from under the bonnet is still serious enough to reinforce the impression of power, helped by Ford’s use of a so-called sound symposer that uses a pipe to amplify the car’s induction noise. On paper it sounds a bit naff, but the reality is surprisingly convincing.
However, it’s only when you start to increase the pace that the ST’s true brilliance begins to shine through, its controls moving with the kind of consistent heft and utmost precision that marks out a true driver’s car. Unlike some other recent hot hatches the ST retains a manual gearbox, its short throw and precise action making it a delight to use.
Then there’s the steering, which is quick but has a fluidity and feel to it that helps you to always know what’s happening. Admittedly, the suspension is pretty stiff (particularly so on cars built before 2016), but the payoff is a fantastically controlled ride and absolutely no slack in the handling.
This might not be the most powerful hot hatch ever, or the most expensive, but in terms of sheer fun factor the Fiesta ST is up there with the very best.
The usual used hot hatch purchasing rules apply in terms of looking closely for signs of damage and paying for a full history check. The service history should show that the car has been maintained every 12 months or 12,500 miles; if not, look elsewhere.
The majority of STs are three door, but Ford did introduce a five-door Fiesta ST in 2016, so if practicality is a concern that’s the one to go for (although even then this isn’t the roomiest of superminis).
You’ll also need to decide what specification to choose, bearing in mind the ‘entry-level’ ST1 was not a big seller compared with the better equipped ST2 and ST3, despite being sensibly equipped with features such as DAB radio (although make sure it works),
Choose an ST2 and you also get excellent Recaro sports seats, plus keyless go and a more powerful stereo, while top-spec ST3s come with climate control, automatic lights and wipers, and sat-nav. Ford’s optional Style Pack meanwhile bundled illuminated sill pates (again, check they are working), red brake calipers and a tinted finish to the alloy wheels for a sportier look.
The later and more powerful Ford Fiesta ST200 (pictured above) might tempt you too, as could a car fitted with a Mountune power upgrade, although neither qualifies as being a half price hot hatch. On the subject of that Mountune upgrade (or indeed any performance enhancing modifications) ask to see supporting documentation and make sure your insurance premium doesn’t rocket as a result of the changes.
Other areas to look out for include faulty door seals (a common problem with the Mk7 Fiesta but also an easy fix), any knocks from the engine bay which could be a worn mount that’ll need replacing, and that the clutch feels strong. As a security measure against theft, many Fiesta ST owners also recommend using an extension cable to relocate the car’s OBD (on-board diagnostic) port away from the driver’s door, as well as fitting a steering wheel lock.
Ford Fiesta ST
Power: 180bhp @ 5,700rpm
Acceleration: 0-62mph in 6.9 seconds
Top speed: 137mph
See examples of the Ford Fiesta ST for sale at CarGurus
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