Sometimes, driving should just be fun. And if you have a gazillion dollars to spend on a Ferrari or an Aston Martin, it’s pretty easy: you just buy a car that could compete in a LeMans race.
It’s why we don’t really love old guys in expensive sports cars: they have money to throw around and they don’t have to be smart about it.
And, it’s why we love young guys in souped-up muscle cars: to get the exuberance of a sports car they have to be far craftier: They create the dream themselves.
Fiesta ST: Smart and Sporty For The Rest of Us
For those who are not in either of those categories, meet the Ford Fiesta ST. The Fiesta, known in its former life as Ford’s budget-friendly small car designed to navigate the crowded roundabouts of Europe and city streets of South America, in the US it was built for drivers who needed economy more than anything else.
ST: Sport Technology at Work
Over the past few years, Ford has retooled the Fiesta for performance, so much so that it qualifies to join rallies and races around the globe and even has it’s own designated competition, the Fiesta Sport Trophy. But it’s also for the daily driver who wants both the sportier feel and all of Ford’s industry-leading technology, including the MyFordTouch system, connected phone tech and hands-free voice commands.
The Fiesta ST—ST stands for sport technology—is for a driver who wants control over the drive experience: it comes only in a 6-speed manual and has various options that let you ‘tune’ the suspension and engine for an even sportier ride (comes in handy when you want to slide through curves at top speed and scare the wits out of your passengers). The Fiesta ST comes equipped with Recaro seats, standard issue for race cars, that cradle the passenger and enhance the sports car feel; and it has a ‘Sound Symposer’ system that feeds engine sounds (not road noise) back into the cabin so as you accelerate you hear the fruits of the Fiesta’s labor.
A Drive in the Country
Recently I had the opportunity to take the Fiesta ST for a drive through some of the fast and curvy highways around New York City and the back roads of Connecticut and Westchester County, New York. It’s a completely capable car in the city—quick, agile, right-sized for city streets and easy to park; and it was great on country roads, too, making curves and hills a fun run. The Recaro seats proved comfortable for the drive, and the car’s interior, compact as it is, has plenty of nooks for keys, phones and water bottles.
Behind the wheel of the Fiesta ST I felt 19 again: slightly nervous for all the power under foot, giddy at the feel of the car’s thrust, in charge around every corner and with the shift of clutch and gears: I was learning to drive all over again, not to just sit and steer—the lull of so many automatic cars.
The car easily seats four, but front seat passengers will be more comfortable than back seat passengers: the rear passenger space is tight, and if passengers in the front are tall, it can make for a cramped ride. But, assuming you’re not loading up basketball players, it’s fine when your friends need a ride, and the car’s hatchback design and and fold-down seats mean there’s lots of flexible room for all your stuff.
During our drive through the country we found ourselves speeding by the Bedford Post Inn, owned by local innkeepers Richard Gere and Carey Lowell (yeah, that Richard Gere and Carey Lowell). The place was so picturesque, stone walls, blooming flowers and draping vines, that we had to double back and sit and stare for a minute. Next time I visit the Bedford Post Inn I am definitely going to take advantage of the yoga loft.
Who Should Test Drive This Car
While Ford has engineered some sweet city cars that tend to the needs of all passengers, including the C-Max and the Fusion, the Fiesta is built for the generationally unencumbered: No kids, family obligations attended solo, occasional driver of friends, taker of impulse trips: the focus of this car is squarely on the driver. At a base price of just over $22,000 and fully loaded at about $27,000, it’s a great option for a young driver—high school, college, new-to-the-workforce—who needs to get from point A to point B and wants to have fun doing it.
6-Speed Manual Shifter = No Texting
But the Fiesta ST is especially great for the new or teenage driver: with the demand of shifting gears, it’s hard to be distracted by a phone. Which makes the idea of a sporty car built for racing a comfort to parents of new drivers: If you’re shifting gears you’re not texting. And, for extra comfort, it’s available with Ford’s awesome teenage fun-ender (or boyfriend fun-ender!), the Ford MyKey, which allows the car to be pre-programmed for a top speed and top radio volume, among other features.
What We Loved
Sporty handling and peppy 197 HP Eco-Boost Engine
Easy to shift
All Ford’s in-car technology is available (navigation, MyFordTouch, SiriusXM, etc)
26MPG city/35MPG highway
Base price: about $22,000; fully loaded, about $27,000
Great selection of fun exterior paint colors
Ambient lighting system with five different color options
What You Need To Know
Smallish back seat
Manual shift only, no automatic option on the ST
Designed for a sports car driver
Disclosure: Ford provided the Fiesta ST for our drive; opinions here are all our own