Review of the 2014 Ford Fiesta ST

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I pulled up in my well used 2011 Ford Fiesta (early review from 2011), visiting two BMW owners polishing and repairing in the driveway, one is a mechanic at a BMW dealer. A conversation sparked.

The BMW mechanic had put a friend’s 2014 Ford Fiesta ST through the paces. He said heIMG_20140530_124417590 was impressed and started rattling off good impressions of the torque vectoring front-wheel drive and how it interprets 197 horsepower and 202 lbs.-ft. of torque into pulling a 2720 lb. vehicle straight ahead and through the turns.

I was a performance car owner once, a Volkswagen GTI. And I have owned quite a few inline 4 cylinder sport bikes.

Any vehicle with a high power to low weight ratio is fun. A small car that takes that power and skillfully translates it through the wheels is a whole new level of fun. The Ford Fiesta ST is the fun of my sport bike with the benefit of  seven airbags.

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Historically speaking, the ST weighs less than my 1986 GTI and has twice the horsepower. And weight to power ratio is what makes 200 horsepower quite incredibly fun and nimble with only 2720 lbs. The average pickup truck has to push around double the weight.

The engine is a 1.6L 16-valve Ti-VCT Turbocharged Direct Injection EcoBoost® 4 cylinder which does it’s best at ramming air and squirting fuel directly into cylinders and making tons of usable power. It even sounds like something crazy good is going on under the hood when you lay into it. Maximum horsepower is obtained by using 93 octane fuel.

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The six speed manual (no automatic and there shouldn’t be) tops out the RPMs at a nice low 2400 while going 60 mph so this isn’t a buzzy ride for the long commute.

There is a slight turbo lag as the engine spools up from the standstill (or maybe you just think there is because what comes next is so much fun), but most of the 202 lbs of torque blasts out to the wheels in a nice meaty band staring about 1500 RPM making the Fiesta ST great for passing without downshifting, or blasting past something slow by kicking down a gear or two.

This is one of the first small cars with a 4 cylinder engine I have driven that running the air conditioning really didn’t have any effect.

I bought a 2011 Fiesta SES in July of 2010 from Beshore & Koller in Manchester, Pa., and I am often in there visiting, so they asked me last week if I wanted to take a new ST out for a few hours and compare. My Fiesta at 62,000, has held up well. It’s the first new car dealer I have returned to for service because I actually wanted to return.

The ST version of my car is a blast to drive. The six speed (with reverse up to the left) is slick and the clutch feels firm like it is going to handle 200 lbs of torque for many miles.

Torque vectoring takes all the power and keeps you straight, or powering through a curve. Forget anything you experienced historically with front-wheel drive cars and crazy torque steer with engines that had half the torque.

IMG_20140530_125720026You can disable the electronic stability control with a 3 mode mechanical button on the dash if you want to partially or fully disable for more spirited driving (or dealing with getting out of a snowy hole). Reverts to full on when car is restarted.

Check out this video about how 3-mode ESC works. The torque vectoring continues to work in any mode.

IMG_20140530_125803877_HDRHill start assist, working with the Anti-Lock Braking System, engages automatically. It holds the car stationary for two seconds after the brake is released, giving you time to apply the throttle.

Electric Power-Assisted Steering (EPAS) continuously learns how the car is tracking and adapts to steering conditions and gradually compensates for changes that can cause the vehicle to pull left or right.

image (3)The optional Recaro seats have really tall side bolsters that hold an average sized person snugly in place for the twisties.

There is climate control entirely separate from the touch screen MyFord Touch infotainment system.  The 2014 Fiesta ST also has an enhanced version of the Sync voice-recognition software making language commands more natural.

I could feel the potential fun in the car, but since it was on a good will loan I will borrow a quote from edmonds.com/2014 Fiesta ST test drive

Think about it this way: You won’t find yourself in a controlled four-wheel drift in any other subcompact, sporting intentions or not. Not in a Mini Cooper S. Not in a Fiat 500 Abarth. And certainly not in Chevy’s Sonic RS. It just won’t happen. The ability to rotate off-throttle, remain composed and point its drive wheels in the desired direction is a defining component of Ford’s ST product line. It’s what the Fiesta ST does best. And it’s wildly entertaining.

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About Paul Kuehnel

Paul Kuehnel has worked for the York Daily Record/Sunday News since 1984. Follow him on Twitter @paulkuehnel.
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