Ford Fiesta ST

What is it?

On one level, it is simply the latest hot version of the Fiesta, a lineage that goes back to the 1980s XR2. On another level, the chassis dynamics (and a fairly useful power boost) mean that you should forget almost everything you knew about its predecessors.

Mechanically, the Fiesta ST is basically the standard car with the 180 bhp engine from the Focus Ecoboost plus a chassis retune. So far, so underwhelming. However the devil (or in this case God) is in the detail. The engine, which is quiet, smooth and completely unobtrusive in the Focus, has a sound channel that feeds sound from the air inlet into the cabin. Under hard acceleration, it really does make you think of Colin McRae - although those outside will never know, as the sound is fed into the cabin, not the outside world. As for the chassis, we asked Ford if the dampers were very expensive items from one of the famous suppliers. No, said the engineers, we just tuned the conventional dampers very carefully.

In terms of styling, the Fiesta gets a purposeful new grille. If you see it in your rear-view mirror, you may be inclined to get out of the way of this imposing looking car, only to be surprised when a little Fiesta scoots past - after the front end, you wonder where the rest of the car has gone.

The good news about the careful use of parts-bin components is that the price is remarkably good value. The launch price of the base ST is just £16,995 and the ST2 is £17,995. In reality, about 80% of customers are expected to go for the ST2, which adds part-leather seats, privacy glass, keyless start, LED running lights and a particularly ugly Sony radio, so that is the price that matters.

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