It all started with my daily 2011 VW Jetta TDI and the 2 dozen trips to the dealer for various breakdowns and failures of a car that was supposed to be one of the most reliable on the road. I longed for another fun car. The drive to the track on Saturday, to Wegman’s on Sunday, and to work on Monday type of car. The kind of car I haven’t owned in a long time. I longed for Sunday drives in the mountains, open roads, and to tackle some proper corners once again with a machine that would make me smile all the while. The problem was a 64 mile a day commute, a sub 30k budget, Washington DC traffic, and oh yeah…a 75lbs German shepherd that loves car rides. Not to mention after trading out of a TDI which achieved 42mpg, I couldn’t fathom what sub 25mpg would feel like again. We all hate stopping at the pump, but it’s a side effect of most sporty cars. So after many dealership visits, test drives, and an eye burning amount of the internet article and review reading, I settled for a 2015 Ford Fiesta ST in race red with Recaro seats. I found one with no sunroof or Nav as I knew I could life without those for the weight savings benefit. Lucky for me the dealership was willing to work on the numbers, and a few hours later away I went with the car around $19,000. Yes I said that right $19K on a car that stickered at $24,000. I know to most people that’s a way too much for a Fiesta, but this isn’t your average hot hatch.
As I broke the car in throughout the next week few weeks I realized how much character and soul this little car really has. The realization of what Ford has achieved sunk in, but it’s not without its faults. I could go on for hours about the good, but let’s start with the bad. I am a 6’ 230lbs guy and it took some time to “break in” the Recaro’s by sitting in them long enough to where they started to mold to my shape. That was compliant number 1, but after a few weeks it’s no longer a complaint at all, especially when you’re pushing the car around corners. Complaint 2 is the lack of a limited slip differential (LSD) and over aggressive traction control. This car truly needs a LSD, although it’s hard to notice on the street. Turning off the traction control and using your driving talents is the best way to really use the car without adding a LSD. Complaint 3 is one that really hurts those of the us can’t stop modifying our cars into what we want via the aftermarket. The turbo is very small, quick spooling, and in higher gears above 4000 RPMs, nearly maxxed out. You can only gain between 25-35whp and 50-100wtq with full bolts on and tuning. Given how effective the car is stock, I don’t feel it needs any more than some minor tweaks. Complaint 4 is not one I share, but other who have been in it say the car is too small.
I have been debating about how this article was going to adequately explain my true feelings about the ST. In the end,the true test is that I still love this car after 10K miles and hundreds of hours spent commuting through DC traffic. I would say I love it more so than I first took delivery. 10K miles, 2 oil changes, a few mods, 2 off-ramp spins, and a some video footage later, my love has only grown for the hot hatch that shouldn’t be this hot. I’d like to thank whoever at Ford convinced the bean counters to take the Escape 1.6L EcoBoost and shove in the ecohatch Fiesta, then develop a good suspension, add some Recaro’s and sell it to the public this inexpensively. To that engineer I raise my glass, because you sir are a genius. Ford has created a car worthy of a cult following by its owners and something that on the street, and the track, is as quick as many cars double or triple its price tag. It’s no barn burner in a straight line, but through the corners I have yet to find its equal. Some may ask my I didn’t go with the Focus ST and here is my answer. Its the Fiesta’s big brother so naturally it is more powerful and larger, but also a bit more tail happy, more costly, and still tips its hat to its younger ST brother in the corners. I drove both back to back countless times, with a nod to the FiST every time when it came to the twisty bits and overall driver’s feel.
The interior is tight, but spacious enough to comfortably fit myself, my wife, our big dog, and 5 bags of dog food in the truck. Most of the time I commute alone so the car is more than enough room for me, yet cozy enough to remind myself it’s still a small car. The materials are typical hot hatch fare, but yet don’t feel like cost was the driving factor in material choice. The chassis is tight and light with very little flex. The suspension is at times bouncy and harsh on the pothole covered roads of DC and northern VA, but it’s never intolerable. It is something I plan on addressing in the future with a set of Swift R springs before I add a set of stickier tires and take it to the track. The brakes are solid, and of proper size for the vehicle’s weight. A number of online forum members who are tracking their FiSTs are using stock size brakes with no problems even on monster tracks like Road America. The engine is awesome for it size, although somewhat restricted by the hot side pipe and intercooler. I swapped mine out for a Level’s Performance intercooler and custom made charge pipe at 5k miles. Big differences in lag time and mid-range according to my butt dyno. Both were bought used and totaled under $400 for the pair. The major fault with the engine is the cooling system which is not necessarily set up for track use or to support big turbos. Mishimoto is coming to the rescue with a 19 oil cooler and bigger radiator, both of which are currently under development for those wishing to track or properly cool their FiSTs.
I shouldn’t, or can’t, complain about the performance of the car since I will always want more out of any car I own, but out of the box this car is fantastic as almost every reviewer seems to agree. I will say if you have ever considered one, or are in the market for a hot hatch, this car is a must drive. It will not disappoint you.
Stayed tuned as we grow our FiST into an even bigger beast of a hot hatch and watch us assault some track days and time trials.