Last week, I had a chance to test-drive the new 2014 Ford Fiesta ST, Ford Focus ST and Ford C-Max, Ford’s hybrid car. My favorite of the three was the Fiesta, although the C-Max blew me away in terms of quiet power and gee-whiz visual controls. But it was the Fiesta that partied its way into my heart.
The reason is actually quite simple. The Fiesta ST is a world car and what you’re buying in the U.S.A. is a European spec car, which means it handles like a German car. Ford invited me to test their cars as part of their Ford EcoBoost Challenge, which is visiting cities throughout the U.S. Here is what my impressed me most of the Fiesta:
The 2014 Ford Fiesta ST is equipped with 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine that delivers an impressive 197 hp and 202 lb.-ft. torque. That is more power than my Mercedes Benz SLK, and it weighs 3,110 lbs., while the Fiesta tips the scales at just 2,742 lbs. As you might expect, with a weight-to-horsepower ratio that’s better than a 2006 Porsche Boxster, the Fiesta is satisfyingly quick. The turbo-charged four-cylinder engine boosts power when needed and does a great job to keep the Fiesta ST moving.
The Ford Fiesta ST has a keyless, pushbutton ignition and the trunk features, thankfully, a full-size spare. Entry and egress was very easy, even for a six-footer like me, although I did see a rather rotund test-driver struggle with getting situated. My sense is that unless you wrestle in the heavy-weight class, you will do just fine.
I could not test the Ford SYNC system since it requires registering an account, but the navigation and entertainment system worked as advertised, once you figure out that to call up the individual system elements, you have to press the outer corners.
This Fiesta was equipped with the optional Sony Audio System with HD Radio, which played music well, although in our, albeit limited, testing, the audio quality did not exactly take our breath away. But it should satisfy anyone, lest you have “golden ears,” you know who we’re talking about…you!
We had no problem with the Fiesta’s climate control, which worked well, although on a chilly San Francisco summer day, it was hard to tell how well. Suffice it to say, we think it should function correctly in most of the world.
Steering Wheel Controls
I also liked the Ford Fiesta’s layout controls the best of the trio of Ford cars I drove. Both the Ford Focus ST and C-Max have unbelievably cluttered steering wheel controls. I don’t understand why Ford designers can’t standardize on one particular layout, with an easy-to-use human interface, and run with it.
The Ford Fiesta ST comes equipped with a USB plug and can accommodate both USB thumb drives or SD cards filled with music. You can also directly integrate Android phones, although iPhones need to be plugged in. Ford’s SYNC has too many features to list here, so read this page.
Bluetooth syncing with my iPhone worked immediately and the Ford Fiesta comes with a trial subscription to SiriusXM Traffic and Travel Link. The entertainment system also features a Pandora internet radio4 and, for optimum parking. a rear-view camera is available as an option.
What can I say about the Recaro seats? They’re world famous for providing great support and you simply can’t go wrong with this option. The doors closed solidly and there was no evidence of any rattles or poor assembly.
The Fiesta offers a lot of standard niceties and options that make motoring pleasant, including power moonroof, ambient lighting, Bluetooth integration, cap-less fuel filler, heated front seats. Ford SYNC Services are complimentary for the first three years and offer turn-by-turn directions, 411 business search, personalized sports scores, news, stock quotes and even your horoscope.
Front-wheel-drive, four-wheel disc brakes, 205/40WR17 tires and not an overly assisted rack-and-pinion power steering added up to a very drivable experience. The Fiesta ST is rated at 26 mpg in city driving and 35 mpg highway. It is also only available with a six-speed manual transmission, which, unfortunately, does not offer hill assist (a big plus in San Francisco).
Car and Driver notes that the Fiesta ST went from zero to 60 mph in 6.7 sec, which supports our observation that the car is fast enough. The steering was good and not wobbly like the Ford Focus ST I drove, which may have needed some type of steering adjustment. Driving position was great and the Recaro seats hugged my body in the right way.
ACCELERATION: 0-60 in 6.7 seconds
TOP SPEED: 137 mph
POWER: 197 hp (turbo-charged DOHC, four valves-per-cylinder engine)
FUEL ECONOMY: EPA city/highway: 26/35 mpg (projected)
LENGTH: 160.1 in (4.64 m)
WEIGHT: 2742 lb (1244 kg)
PRICE: $25,475 (as tested)