Ford’s diminutive Fiesta ST has arrived with guns blazing to take on Renault’s Clio Sport and Peugeot 206’s GTI 180 for “little hot hatch” honours. It certainly undercuts the two in the price war, but how will it fair in the ultimate performance battle?Ford’s diminutive Fiesta ST has arrived with guns blazing to take on Renault’s Clio Sport and Peugeot’s 206 GTI 180 for “little hot hatch” honours. It certainly undercuts the two in the price war, but how will it fare in the ultimate performance battle?

Fully imported from the Ford plant in Cologne, Germany, the Fiesta ST is propelled by the powerful 2,0-litre Duratec HE engine. This powerplant comes with sequential fuel injection and electronic throttle control, and produces maximum power of 110 kW at 6 000 r/min and peak torque of 190 N.m at 4 500 r/min.

Where outright performance is concerned, this gutsy little highway streaker accelerates to 100 km/h in only 8,3 seconds and records a maximum speed of 208 km/h. Overall fuel consumption is 7,8 l/100 km.

Beneath the surface, the changes to the ST over the regular Fiesta are significant. The front and rear anti-roll bars and the rear twist beam are stiffer for better handling and control. Damper settings have been revised to maintain saloon-like comfort levels despite the added power output.

Contributing to the ST’s lightning performance is its lightweight all-aluminium engine with electronic throttle control for a quicker response. But the setr-up doesn’t need frequent attention: the camshaft chain requires less maintenance and the knock sensor cuts down on pre-detonation, prolonging the engine life.

The Fiesta ST uses a revised five-speed iB5 gearbox with short ratios and a short shift gear mechanism, which has been strengthened to withstand the little car’s increased power output.

Braking (with standard ABS and EBD) is enhanced thanks to larger front calipers and pads – borrowed from the Ford Focus ST170 - and 253 mm rear discs. Wheels are menacing 17-inch light alloy units shod with low profile Pirelli tyres.

The Fiesta ST not only performs and sounds like a hot hatch, it looks the part too with is aggressive and robust styling.

The car has new front and rear bumpers with integrated fog lamps and a grille finished in honeycomb mesh. Larger body-coloured side protection mouldings correspond with the body-coloured door handles, side mirrors and rear tailgate release for a sleek and polished exterior appearance. Combined with the 17-inch alloys, the large oval chrome exhaust tailpipe and the new ST insignia complete the look from the rear.

Leather/cloth combination sports seats dominate the interior, and there are aluminium finishes on the three-spoke steering wheel (with leather trim), short shift gear lever and metal sport pedals.

Yet, despite its racy aspirations, the ST is equipped with an array of comfort and luxury items. Standard equipment includes height adjustment for the driver’s seat, remote central locking for the doors and tailgate, remote headlight height adjuster, theatre dimming lights, power heated mirrors, front electric windows and air conditioning. The six CD/tuner has speed sensing volume control, six speakers and remote controls on the steering wheel.

Safety features include dual stage driver and passenger airbags, anti-submarining front seats, anti-burst door locks, front passenger seatbelt height adjustment, three-point seatbelts on all rear seats with headrests, ABS braking with EBD, a PATS immobiliser, a perimeter alarm with volume sensing, visible VIN number, remote central locking with double locking and a battery saver.

Ford Marketing Manager Neale Hill said: “ST cars are born out of Ford’s extensive motorsport heritage and are expertly designed, carefully executed and highly fine-tuned over many hours in Ford’s development centres and test tracks.

“Everything ‘feels’ right for the driver. These cars offer the optimal balance between understeer and oversteer, between input efforts required on steering and gear change, between the input efforts required on the different pedals, between suspension travel/stiffness and grip from the tyres, between engine power and usable/tractable power (torque), and between performance (power and speed) and performance feel (level of exhaust noise). It is this fastidious attention to balance that removes all the distractions and enables the driver to focus purely on the driving experience,” he concluded.

At R169 500, the Fiesta ST comes with a three-year/100 000 km warranty and five-year/unlimited mileage corrosion warranty. A three-year/unlimited roadside assistance plan is standard, while a maintenance plan is optional.

Original article from Car