Testing Out The Ford Fiesta ST, Ford Focus ST & The Hybrid Ford C-Max


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.

My Ford Fiesta ST featured the must-have Recaro seats with red contrast insets that will blow your, and your passengers’, mind. Available in “Molten Orange” or “Smoke Storm” colors.

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!

Climate ControlClimate Control
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.

ControlsSteering 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.

iPodiDevice Integration
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.

User ExperienceUser Experience
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).


The Ford Fiesta has a full complement of navigation and digital controls that should make any Digital Lifestyle denizen very happy indeed. Hands-free calling using your Bluetooth phone allows you to answer calls at the touch of a button, and even issue commands to get news, stock quotes or, gasp, your horoscope.

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)

Lainie Liberti
Lainie Liberti is a recovering branding expert, who’s career once focused on creating campaigns for green - eco business, non-profits and conscious business. Dazzling clients with her high-energy designs for over 18 years, Lainie lent her artistic talents to businesses that matter.  But that was then.

In 2008, after the economy took a turn, Lainie decided to be the change (instead of a victim) and began the process of “lifestyle redesign,” a joint decision between both her and her 11-year-old son, Miro. They sold or gave away all of of their possessions in 2009 and began a life of travel, service, and exploration. Lainie and her son Miro began their open-ended adventure backpacking through Central and South America. They are slow traveling around the globe allowing inspiration to be their compass. The pair is most interested in exploring different cultures, contributing by serving, and connecting with humanity as ‘global citizens.’

Today Lainie considers herself a digital nomad who is living a location independent life. She and her son write and podcast their experiences from the road at Raising Miro on the Road of Life.
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