2014 Ford Fiesta ST
2014 Ford Fiesta ST
2014 Ford Fiesta ST. Click image to enlarge

Review and photos by Mark Stevenson

The “One Ford” strategy has given us a slew of new products over the last few years providing style, luxury, and engineering we’ve craved from Europe for so long.

First, the Fiesta hatch and sedan arrived following a social media campaign that changed automotive marketing forever. Then the new global Focus and Fusion rewrote the rules in their respective segments while a new Escape brought together the two-box North American version and the rounded, sporty European Kuga. And, once the Blue Oval got us hooked on more expensive models, they threw a high performance model at us, the Focus ST.

Now there’s a new ST, albeit in a much smaller wrapper.

Built in Mexico with a heart from Dear Old Blighty, Ford will soon be delivering the 2014 Fiesta ST in Canada for a full $5,000 less than its bigger brother Focus. Sporting 198 hp when drinking premium fuel, torque vectoring to tackle the twisties, and Recaro seats to keep you firmly held in place, Ford’s newest ST model certainly has the goods needed to compete.

But, first, we have to talk about the plebian, non-ST Fiesta.

Given a refresh for 2014, including a new grille, slightly updated packaging, improved dry clutch transmission tuning, and a brand new 1.0L EcoBoost three-cylinder engine, the new Fiesta is a force to be reckoned with.

And, putting my reputation on the line, I will say the Fiesta is the best subcompact hatchback you can buy. Period.

Equipped with the 1.6L four-cylinder engine and manual transmission (with its butter smooth shifts and completely predictable throws), the Fiesta has probably one of the best gearbox/engine combinations I’ve driven in years. Sure, the throws are kind of far (which can be fixed easily enough with a short shift kit if you’re picky) and the engine isn’t oozing power. But the gearbox, clutch, and engine combination is so smooth it’s only rivaled by your mother for forgiveness. It is probably the best combination one can buy for under $50,000.

It’s so forgiving and accurate you can teach someone how to drive a manual in the Fiesta in 10 minutes. Seriously, we know because we did it. It really is that good.

2014 Ford Fiesta ST2014 Ford Fiesta ST2014 Ford Fiesta ST2014 Ford Fiesta ST
2014 Ford Fiesta ST. Click image to enlarge

Not only is it forgiving, it’s also a hoot to drive for those who’ve mastered the heel-and-toe dance. Perfectly weighted steering provides just the right amount of feedback for the enthusiast while the enthusiast’s non-gearhead spouse can enjoy the Fiesta’s easy driving nature. It’s the perfect compromise car and there’s a reason why rally schools use the Fiesta as an entry-level trainer vehicle.

If you don’t feel like using your left foot in any capacity, the updated dual dry–clutch PowerShift automatic has some serious tuning changes making for a much more pleasant driving experience. The automatic adds an additional cog, for a total of six, and also returns better fuel economy than the manual box. For those so inclined, you can shift it on your own, though it is nowhere near as rewarding as shifts are performed using a toggle button on the side of the shift knob.

Enough about the normal Fiesta – the ST is the new business.

Available in almost any colour seen in a bag of Skittles, the ST has presence. Its larger 17-inch alloy wheels (available in two different finishes), bespoke ST grille, unique spoiler, and ST badging make sure your neighbours know it isn’t just a run of the mill Fiesta. And if they haven’t recognized the visual clues, the engine note, turbo whine, and blow-off valve will give them pause.

Powered by a 1.6L EcoBoost engine with 198 hp and 201 lb-ft of torque, the Fiesta is the best bang for the buck in the non-premium subcompact class. Want to go faster? Prepare to shell out significantly more for a Mini Cooper JCW while you lose the functionality of two rear doors.

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