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2016 Ford Fiesta ST Road Test and Review

Charles Krome
by Charles Krome
August 26, 2016
4 min. Reading Time
2016 Ford Fiesta ST exterior front angle ・  Photo by Ford

2016 Ford Fiesta ST exterior front angle ・ Photo by Ford

The 2016 Ford Fiesta ST follows the typical hot-hatch formula—involving equal parts more power, a more athletic handling experience, and matching looks—but there’s actually nothing quite like the Blue Oval’s pocket rocket. While other mainstream automakers heat up their compact offerings, the Fiesta is a subcompact package that’s more affordable, more efficient, and possibly even more fun to drive (thanks to its tidier and nimbler dimensions).

The Fiesta ST also packs a punch. It fits a high-powered EcoBoost engine beneath its hood, with nearly 200 horsepower on tap. Nor did Ford merely dial up the boost here: There’s a full complement of ST performance enhancers on hand, from the suspension to the steering, along with the latest SYNC 3 technology and heated Recaro seats.


Perhaps one of the most eye-popping parts of this 2016 Ford Fiesta ST review has to do with the car’s MSRP: Even though it’s priced nearly 46 percent higher than a standard Fiesta hatchback—owing to its massive increase in performance—the ST is nonetheless stickered at only $20,970. That’s a few hundred dollars more than the range-topping Chevy and Honda subcompacts that don’t have the Ford’s athleticism and are thousands less than the high-performance compacts that are one class size up. Indeed, the 2016 VW Golf GTI has a base MSRP of $25,595. And thanks to their size differences, the Fiesta ST actually has a better power-to-weight ratio than that erstwhile German rival.


Power, Performance, Fuel Efficiency

Now, about that power: The standard engine for the 2016 Ford Fiesta ST is a 4-cylinder 1.6-liter EcoBoost unit that can deliver 197 horsepower and 202 lb.-ft. of torque. That’s 77 more horses and 90 extra lb.-ft. of torque as compared to a standard Fiesta. Also, the base curb weight for the ST is a bare 2,720 lb., so that added output goes a long way. Shoppers should be aware, however, that going anywhere in Ford’s super subcompact does require a knowledge of three-pedal driving, since a 6-speed manual transmission is the only one on the menu. Of course, that’s the expected setup for traditionalists, who further enjoy strong fuel-economy ratings of 26 MPG city/33 MPG highway/29 MPG combined.


Exterior Design and Lighting

The 2016 Ford Fiesta ST puts an aero-friendly spin on the standard model’s hatchback silhouette, highlighted by an extension to the lower fascia at the front, with a black center airfoil, and matching mods at the rear, where there’s also a black air diffuser and dual chrome-tipped exhaust. Body color side rocker moldings, an ST-specific high-mounted rear spoiler, and a mesh grille insert, all help to emphasize the more aggressive appearance, as do the 17-inch Rado Gray wheels. The ST Fiesta model also wears standard foglamps and halogen headlamps, both with black bezels.

In terms of the car’s physical size, the 2016 Fiesta XT is 159.7 inches in length, which is right in line with the size of a typical mainstream hatchback and roughly a foot shorter than most compacts.


Interior Design and Capacities

The basic layout here is nicely symmetrical, with a multi-level effect for the dashboard and an efficient use of space to hold the center-stack switchgear and screen. Standard ambient lighting for the 2016 Ford Fiesta ST provides a more premium appearance, and the front seats, with driver’s lumbar support, help in that regard since they’re surfaced in a special sport cloth emblazoned with a bold ST badge. Pushbutton start, chrome accents, aluminum pedals, and a multi-function steering wheel wrapped in perforated leather also elevate the cabin experience.

Additionally, the Fiesta supports front-row comfort with 39.1 inches of front headroom and 43.6 inches of front legroom—more in both cases than in the Chevy Sonic hatch—although the Ford is tighter in the back seat and has less cargo space.


Audio and Infotainment

The 2016 Ford Fiesta ST is known for its premium powerplant and performance. Yet it’s also liberally stocked with many of the automaker’s other upscale goodies, including two of its top infotainment technologies.

For the overall control interface, the ST welcomes the latest SYNC 3 system. This new-generation setup is both more accurate and faster than previous iterations, and it’s backed by an also-new capacitive touchscreen and improved voice recognition. Per Ford, owners now can “talk with simple, real-world voice commands and the system responds naturally to your voice.”

The automaker then turned to a noted home-electronics expert for its audio system, partnering with Sony for an eight-speaker setup with four tweeters and four subwoofers. Standard as well in the ST are the HD Radio and SiriusXM Satellite Radio.


Available Equipment

The 2016 Ford Fiesta ST can be ordered with a “Recaro” package that increases both performance credibility and driving enjoyment. The key element of the package, naturally, is a pair of supportive front seats from the legendary Recaro company—purveyors of premium seating for more than 100 years. The sears in the Fiesta ST have partial leather surfacing, integrated heating mechanisms, and significantly more support than the stock units, and they’re available in either Molten Orange or Smoke Storm. Ford throws in a set of heated exterior mirrors with this bundle as well.

It’s also worth noting that there are two different tire-and-brake configurations for the 2016 Fiesta ST. The standard package relies on performance-rated summer tires and upgraded brakes, but drivers can opt for all-season rubber with low-dust pads.


Safety Ratings and Technology

This section of our 2016 Ford Fiesta ST test and review brings to mind an issue with all smaller cars, and especially subcompacts: The industry’s leading-edge safety technologies aren’t very common in this segment. Thus, like the vast majority of its rivals, the Fiesta puts its emphasis on the basics. Its standard safety features include seven airbags, with knee protection for the driver, plus a protective passenger safety cage built from boron steel—known for its light weight and high strength. And the Fiesta does offer a rearview camera system.

(Note: Despite a 5-star NHTSA rating for side-crash protection, the 2016 Ford Fiesta did receive notice of a safety issue during side-impact testing. Please see the SaferCar.gov website.)


Other Cool Info

Tapping into the full potential of the 2016 Ford Fiesta ST is a learning process, but the Blue Oval has the right teachers on staff at the ST Octane Academy, where the first day of lessons is on the house with the purchase of every unit. True, folks must find their own way to Miller Motorsports Park in Tooele, Utah, and pay their own lodging. Yet once that’s done, they get a deep dive into Fiesta ST performance, both in the classroom and on the track, using the school’s specially prepared cars. Braking and cornering exercises, lead-and-follow sessions, timed runs on the track’s UrbanX course, and forward and reverse 180s are all on the curriculum.


Final Thoughts

The 2016 Ford Fiesta ST isn’t the biggest car in the segment, but it's the biggest performance value on the market. After all, the ST serves up a track-friendly package for less than $21,000, and that’s with premium infotainment technologies like SYNC 3 and Sony audio as standard equipment. With the available Recaro upgrade, this hot little Ford even rocks racing-style seats. That’s the kind of Fiesta any enthusiast would celebrate.

 Photo by Ford

Photo by Ford


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