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How Does Ford’s Smallest Hot Hatch Stand Up To It’s Impressive Forebear?

When Ford released the Fiesta ST for the 2014 model year, it quickly became the darling of the automotive press. With a sub-3000 pound curb weight, and an ultra-torquey 1.6l turbocharged four cylinder engine mated to a delightful six-speed transmission, the ST was destined to enter the halls of hot hatch Valhalla. Now, more than 3 years after the Fiesta ST hit the streets in the US, Ford has announced its replacement. Here’s how we think it stacks up.

Now, full disclosure, this author loved the original ST so much that he bought one. With his own money, even. That said, aside from any shameless hot hatch worship, we’ll try and keep bias to a minimum.

The biggest change to the new FiST is in the engine department. Where the first generation Fiesta ST came with a 1.6 liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine, the new car will be motivated by a 1.5 liter turbocharged 3-cylinder motor. Power output is up as well from 180 horsepower without overboost to 197 horsepower. The 1.6 liter EcoBoost has proven itself to be a willing companion and a fairly reliable one even when modified. Will this new 3-pot hold up to that increased stress? Time will tell. One interesting feature of the new 3-cylinder engine is the inclusion of both port and direct fuel injection, a trick that Toyota employed on the engine in the FR-S/BRZ twins.

One thing that the press lauded the original ST for was its simplicity. In a world where most cars are laden with almost useless “drive modes” the Fiesta ST only had two stage adjustable traction control. The closest thing you got to a “Sport Mode” was going full throttle in 3rd gear. The new car adds three selectable modes: Normal, Sport and Track. Sport mode increases throttle sharpness and steering effort while adding some more fake noise to the cabin via the speakers. It also loosens the traction control system’s leash somewhat allowing for more fun. Track mode turns TC off and relaxes the stability control system while opening flaps in the exhaust system for more noise.

Ford is keeping mum about the new ST’s suspension and tire packages, but we do know that it will come standard on 18-inch wheels, an inch larger than the 2014-2017 car. Inside, the ST is getting standard Recaro seats to replace the optional sport Recaros of the old car as well as a flat-bottomed steering wheel, because racecar. On the infotainment front, prospective purchasers can expect Ford’s new Sync 3 system and an optional B&O Play system.

There is no word yet on pricing or other options but we’d expect it to be in line with the low 20k range of the current car. The model is expected to debut officially in early 2018. Considering how sharp and fun and approachable a car the current generation FiST is, we have high hopes for the new one.

Photos Courtesy of Ford Motor Company

 

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