Full disclosure: Ford wanted me to drive one of their cars so badly they told me to go to a dealer and find a sales person that clearly loved paper work and have them fill out more paperwork. In exchange Ford would send me $50, and the sales person would have some excitement in their day. All in the effort to try to get a person who clearly looks like they cannot afford the car they are driving, to drive it. I mean I am driving a car in order to get $50, what makes you think I can afford this? I wonder what other jobs pay you to drive cars and talk about them?
Some of you may remember that I asked the collective Oppo to suggest Fords that I should test drive for their $50 test drive offer. I know most people do these offers and try to drive a Ford GT or Shelby Mustang. When they are inevitably rejected because either A) We can’t for liability, B) We don’t have one because of people like you, and/or C) We would have to move my desk to get it out of the showroom. These people then end up driving a Mustang GT, then brag about driving a Shelby to their friends. I like to be different. Friends want to drive a Mustang; I want a 2.0L EcoBoost Fusion. Friends want a F350; I drive a Taurus SHO. Friends want a Dodge Caliber; they are no longer my friends. Many of the responses that appeared last year, reappeared this year (Fiesta ST, Mustang EcoBoost, F550, the brown manual diesel wagon). Here are some of my favorites
- If it were a conversion van, you have tickled my interests
F150 – 2.7L
- I don’t mind the F150, but like the Mustang GT, this is the second most tested vehicle by others. It is a good backup if they won’t let me drive what I want. I was told specifically the 2.7L engine because of how good and/or terrible it is.
- Because they make this. Does it suck? No one knows.
- Hey, did you know they made this too. It is kind of like the Kia Optima Hybrid, except it is not.
What last year’s article taught me was that I don’t know how to write car reviews. I tried to fit my Fusion review from last year into the Jalopnik review format, and it resulted in a giant failure with over inflated ratings of the Fusion. I would consider going back to that review and updating it to my new format, but it has been so long that I couldn’t do it in confidence. To remedy my ranking issue, I am going to create a new point system. I will assess various aspects of the car using a general scale that goes from I really hate it to I really like it. It’s short, simple, and makes sense.
0 – I hate it
1 – I don’t like it.
2 – It’s ok. (Neutral)
3 – I like it.
4 – I really like it
This means that the review will be out of 52 points.
After careful consideration, I decided to get FiST-ed (that sounded a lot better when I first thought of it). Since I have driven the SHO, Focus ST, and 2.0L EcoBoost Fusion, the FiST was the next logical choice. [For those who don’t know what a FiST is, it is the Fiesta ST. Not to be confused with getting punched or whatever else you are thinking.]
So without further ado, let’s begin with some basic facts about the Fiesta ST
Engine: 1.6L EcoBoost – Turbocharged, 4 Cylinder
Transmission: 6-Speed Manual
Setting: Urban area
The Ford dealer I went to was very accommodating. They didn’t brush me off because I sort of looked like a homeless person. I was quickly attended to and the staff understood the rush to get the coupons. While I was being helped, 3 more people came in behind me looking to take advantage of the test drive offer.
The sales person I worked with noted that I drove an awful long way to drive a Fiesta. I thought this was strange because I went a total of 8 miles. Sure, there was a Ford dealer closer to my home, but they only had 1 Fiesta ST compared to this dealer’s 6, and from what I was taught by Flonase, 6 > 1. Also it would give them little excuse to not let me drive it as there would be some on the lot. They wouldn’t be trapped in the showroom or on pedestals.
So after freeing the car because it was trapped in the expansive lot (also took us about 5 minutes to find it), we began. The sales person did what all sales people do when they realize it is a 6-speed manual, hope that the customer knows how to drive it because they don’t want to have to take over and potentially make an idiot of of themselves.
So I promptly made an idiot out of myself as I tried to move the car out of the parking spot only to stall it repeatedly because I left the handbrake on. Even though the last manual car I drove was the Focus ST about 18 months ago, it is still an inexcusable rookie mistake (I will pause for you to laugh at me…). However, I learned two things from it 1) The handbrake won’t let the car get very far and 2) I knew how to restart the car if it stalled. I have made it a point when I test drive a manual to purposefully stall the car in the dealer lot so I know how to restart it. This came to point when I stalled a Jetta Sportwagen in a busy intersection and you have to completely shut the ignition system off to restart it.
Finally on our way, the test drive took place in an urban setting including neighborhoods, commercial districts, and industrial parks. It also included fun daily activities like soccer moms and road construction. In all, this hampered my ability to test certain aspects like “can this car get to 70,” “how fast can it get there,” and “I am pretty sure it won’t roll over around this bend.” Though my little peel outs to 40mph were fast and excellent, more later. It was an uneventful drive experiencing many types of road environments letting me get an all-around feel for the car. I will break the review into its categories of interest.
I really like the look of the exterior. The Fiesta is supposed to be a small entry-level car, essentially cheap transportation. The regular Fiestas definitely have that look, but are still not bad. The ST trim looks like a bucket of fun. It has a subtle aggressive look in the front, not overly gaudy, but when viewed from the rear it almost looks like a play thing or weekend warrior.
The interior of the Fiesta ST really isn’t all that impressive. It is worth noting that the one I drove did not have the fancy infotainment system option, more about that later. The interior was satisfactory. The Fiesta ST is still a budget friendly car and the interior is where that budget comes from. Most all materials are the same across the Fiesta trims, and even most of Ford’s lineup. I don’t view this as necessarily bad, but I also didn’t notice anything that stood out. I will say that I almost gave it a 4 solely because of the Recaro seats. Those things are like a hug from Ford. The thigh and shoulder bolsters fit like a glove and held you in as you drove, but were not very intrusive. It was like a well-fitting chair. I would not consider an ST if it didn’t have those seats.
Though it has a smaller engine than its Focus ST counterpart, this little thing goes. It is like a 50cc go-kart with a 100cc motor. I really wish I could have had some longer stretches to thoroughly test it, but the thing sure got from 0 to 40 in a flash. The best part was how refined the input detection was. I felt like I could impersonate Daniel Ricciardo with the foot flat to the floor while tossing myself against the bolsters while laughing like a little girl, but I could also use lighter inputs and just bounce around town like a normal person. Normal people like that.
It has brakes, the brakes stop the car. The hand brake keeps the car from moving. That’s about it. I give it an optimistic 3 because I am sure if I could do some more aggressive driving the brakes would be great.
Again, with the limited space, I couldn’t really assess the ride too much. I was expecting a stiff suspension with the performance pack, but it didn’t really feel that way. The ride was pleasant with no glaring examples one way or the other. Would I take this on a 12 hour drive between 2 cities? Eh, you might have to convince me on that, but there are several other reasons why I am questioning it.
I really wanted to eat corners with this thing. The steering was a bit loose, but connected. In other words, it didn’t feel mushy. The front and back felt solid. I would not think that there would be significant understeer or oversteer (in a car like this it would be understeer), but I never got an opportunity to find that out. In city traffic the car handles like any other car. Parking and reversing were very easy to do.
The gearbox in this car is much more forgiving than I anticipated. The Focus ST I drove (albeit a couple model years older) had a much heavier feeling clutch and the shifter was a bit rougher. This was the expectation I had when I went to drive the Fiesta. To my surprise the clutch is fairly light. You would need more pressure than say a Chevy Cruze, but far less than a performance car; definitely far less than the Focus ST. The gearbox shifted smoothly and you felt confident that you were putting it in gear and there was little chance of missing or slipping.
It had a radio. It played music. There was no fancy audio system. Also that is not why I was testing the car. I don’t know why I have this section in here.
The engine rumble was subdued. I drove a Fiat 500 Abarth last month and the noise it made had me laughing the whole time. It sounded like a little kid pretending to be John Cena with a fake deep tough guy voice, but yet it was so adorable and fun. The Fiesta ST didn’t seem to produce that sort of sound. That is not to say that it didn’t produce any, when you got it above 3000rpm, it let you know it was there. I would also be lying if I said it wasn’t fun. I don’t need to know I am driving a performance car all of the time. Sometimes I just need to go to Walmart because I ran out of Lucky Charms.
I like big gauges. I like being able to glance down and not have to focus my eyes to read something. With the Fiesta being a small car, it did not have big gauges. Let me clarify that. The speed and tachometers were adequate size. I just like being able to see the speed I am going without having to try to figure out between which unit of 20mph it is (there was no digital dash). The digital screen in the middle which housed the mileage, MPG, shift indicator, etc. was a little small for me to use while actively driving. It is not a deal breaker, just a minor thing. Not enough for me to say I didn’t like it.
*Side Note: On the trip I accidentally got 1st when trying for 3rd. I noticed that the gauge cluster did not have a gear indicator to tell me what gear I was in. I know the gear pattern is something I would learn while continuously driving, but had I looked and saw it was in 1st and not 3rd; I probably wouldn’t have released the clutch, just a thought.
An increasing problem I have in cars is that the A-pillars have become the size of city blocks. This is because we developed a fetish of rolling cars on their roofs. This issue is exacerbated in small cars. The Fiesta ST had great visibility out most all windows. The RR corner was a bit hairy, but surprisingly the back windowed offered a large panoramic view of the tree you are about to back into. The side view mirrors were also a bit odd and offset a bit back where I think they should be. However, that is something that I would have gotten use to over time. I have seen better visibility in cars so I will rate it a 3.
Let’s face it, this is a car for 2 people maximum, and those two people are not carpenters or counter top installers, or basketball players. Backseat legroom is bad. Suitable for taking you and your friends to a nearby restaurant or pub, but if they are back there for more than 2 hours, they will want to saw their legs off. Also add to that the baggage limitations if you were to go anywhere with more than 2 people. Though cargo capacity for a vehicle this size is actually pretty good, it is hardly practical for things like luggage for 3 or 2x4’s. Don’t bother adding a tow hitch. But that’s not why you buy this car. For a single person, or 2 people. This car will be adequate for normal activities.
The model I drove had a price tag right around $23,000. If you are a performance junky, but on a budget, this is a serious consideration for you. The Fiesta’s nearest competitor (outside of its bigger brother, the Focus ST) is the Fiat 500 Abarth with a MSRP around $24,000. That goes without saying that the Focus ST started at roughly $2,000 more and with it you get more space. Is the Fiesta ST the best practical value? Of course not, a cooler head will come in and say that Chevy Cruzes are around $20,000. Tell them to go away and that you wanna go fast and look good.
Overall, I enjoyed my short time with the Fiesta ST. If I had a budget of $25,000 to spend on a NEW car it would be hard to rule out a fully loaded Fiesta ST versus a baseline Focus ST. In reality, the Fiesta STs biggest competitor (other than reason) is the Focus ST. The Focus offers more power and room than the Fiesta, and at a relatively similar MSRP (dealer prices may vary), it is hard to justify sacrificing the additional space. Compared to its nearest outside competitor, the 500 Abarth, the Fiesta wins hands down just in utilitarian value (even though I gave it a good and slightly unjustified ripping).
The Fiesta ST is a fun little car. It has the power of a golf cart with the limiter removed, and the handling of a RC car. You can’t help yourself but try to turn everything into a racetrack. If you are looking for a car that is easy to use in daily travel, yet allows you to put your foot down and make it feel like you are going fast. Don’t rule out the Fiesta ST in your search.