2014 Ford Fiesta ST
Disclaimer: Ford invited me to drive out to FedEx Field during rush hour, on a Friday, to watch their experiential marketing team setup for a consumer event. They also let me drive the new Fiesta ST around a parking lot...for 3 minutes...in second gear
Second disclaimer: I own a 2013 Focus ST.
The 2014 Fiesta ST is smaller, lighter and cheaper than its larger turbocharged brother - the Focus ST. If you're in the market for a Fiesta ST you should also be in the market for a Focus ST. Both cars are front-wheel drive, five door, turbocharged hatchbacks that scream youthful I-love-video-games driving pleasure.
When parked end-to-end the two Ford’s are hard to tell apart, especially when they’re painted in the same color. Twice I pointed at a Fiesta and called it a Focus. The Fiesta has similar exterior upgrades found on the Focus ST – sport-tuned body molding, sport-tuned wheels and sport-tuned sport suspension.
Once in the car you’re greeted by a seating position similar to that in the FIAT 500. While the Fiesta’s driver’s chair isn’t as forward and upright as the Fiat’s – no matter how I adjusted the seat it never felt right, let alone race-ready. The steering wheel on the Fiesta does not telescope so for those of you that have long legs and short arms may discover that finding the appropriate racecar position challenging.
Both cars can be upgraded with Recaro racing seats, but I would recommend against the Recaro seats. After the OMG-these-seats -are-so-sporty wears off you’ll learn they only have one setting – RACE. The aggressive bolstering and lack of lumbar support make longer trips intolerable.
As for the overall seating position, I prefer the Focus.
Like the Focus, the Fiesta will only be offered with a manual transmission. You’ll find all three sport-inspired aluminum pedals crowded into the right-hand side of the floorboard. The space is very tight. Anyone wearing a size 10 or up will find it very tight. The shifter on the six-speed manual is one of the better ones I’ve come across lately. The throws are short and very mechanical, almost aftermarket-like and much better than the shifter found in the Focus. Anyone buying a Fiesta ST can skip the short shifter upgrade. Ford really nailed it on the Fiesta.
When it comes to engine sounds the Fiesta lacks the volume and backfire you get from a Fiat500 Abarth. While the Fiesta's exhaust may be quiet, the turbo makes quite a bit of noise up front. You can easily hear the Fiesta’s 1.6T spool from in and outside of the cabin.
2014 Ford Fiesta ST
Driving the Car
The vertical height (Fiesta has more headroom than Focus), upright seating position and short wheelbase make for an interesting track experience. Unlike the Focus, which I’ve raced and know can be rotated; the Fiesta just wants to dance around in a controlled kind of way. I’m no track junkie nor will I pretend to be one by tossing around terms like trailing-throttle over steer. I'll just stick to words I didn’t have to Google.
Driving the Fiesta fast was easy, but it wasn’t. Pushing the car around the track was fun, but it wasn’t as clean and composed as the Focus. The Fiesta can be a point-and-shoot car, but because it’s light and agile - it begs to be tossed around a track and not just driven. The car always felt planted and ABS works perfectly.
I felt like I’d jumped into an ACME car and was racing across Toontown.
2014 Ford Fiesta ST
How do they stack up?
On paper the Fiesta ST is the undisputed winner. When compared to the Focus, the Fiesta has a better power-to-weight ratio, a cheaper price and is more fuel-efficient.
Yet at the end of the day I would still recommend the Focus. The added interior space, better seating position and visual appeal are worth the extra cost.
Unfortunately I can’t say much else about the car since my time behind the wheel was extremely limited. It’s a remarkable pint-sized car and for buyers that prefer a small car that goes fast - this is your car.
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