2014 fiesta st
Patrick Rall's picture

2014 Ford Fiesta ST Review: A Great Lead in Ford's Sport Compact Arsenal

Ford showed that they wanted to dominate the American sport compact segment when they introduced the Focus ST, but the 2014 Fiesta ST serves as a perfect precursor to the larger Focus for those buyers who want a car that is a little lighter on its feet and a little less expensive – while still delivering on the term “sport compact” in every possible way.
Advertisement


While I am much more of a Mustang GT guy than I am a Focus ST guy, I really, really enjoyed my time behind the wheel of the high performance Focus earlier this year. Because of that, I had slightly lower expectations for the 2014 Ford Fiesta ST because, frankly, I was disappointed in the difference in horsepower between the two ST models – but the smaller frame of the Fiesta allows it to make the very most of the ST package upgrades.

In addition to having a very obvious familial look on the inside and outside to the design language introduced on the Focus ST, the Fiesta ST has a sport tuned suspension system, a sport tuned steering system, a close ratio manual transmission and a turbocharged engine; all of which make it the perfect leading shot in Ford’s 1-2 sport compact punch combo.

READ ALSO: Build your 2014 Ford Fiesta ST Online

My 2014 Ford Fiesta ST test car came with a price as tested of $25,610. That includes the $21,400 base price of the Fiesta ST, the $595 upcharge for the beautiful Green Envy Tricoat paint, the $1,995 Recaro heated seating package, the $795 navigation system and the unavoidable destination fee of $825. Considering that this loaded up Fiesta is just a touch over $25k, I would call all of those options must-have features. The car is probably great without them, but the green paint gives this car a ton of character, the Recaro seats bolster the sporty feel and the navigation system is a must with any new car, in my opinion.

The Exterior
The modern Ford Fiesta is a sporty little 5-door compact and 4-door sedan, but for the high performance Fiesta ST, the Motor Company went far more extreme with the edgy styling of the 5-door only. The result is a great looking American sport compact with the same European flare as the bigger Focus ST that debuted first.

fiesta st high

The natural shape of the 2014 Ford Fiesta has a low slung, fluid top line that really caters to a sport compact model, but the additions of the ST package take it to the next level. This starts up front with a package specific front fascia that has an aggressively sculpted lower area with one large area in the middle and two smaller openings on the outer edge where you find the fog lights. In addition to the black trimmed headlights, the Fiesta ST has a gloss black mesh grille with the ST logo and black fillers along the bottom – all of which contrast beautifully against the bright metallic green paint.

Fiesta ST side

Along the sides, the Fiesta ST relies heavily on the lines of the entire Fiesta lineup with the only changes being the sculpted lower side sill and the package specific 17 inch wheels wrapped in high performance rubber. The silhouette also benefits from the low profile spoiler that extends straight off of the rear roofline for an elongating look that gives the little Fiesta a very fast look even while sitting still.

DON'T MISS
: A review of the 2014 Ford Focus ST

Out back, the 2014 Ford Fiesta ST has the aforementioned spoiler and a unique lower rear fascia with an integrated diffuser design. These features aren’t outlandish, but they are just enough to set this high performance model apart from the rest of the 2014 Fiesta lineup.

fiesta st rear

Honestly, while I am not the ideal performance sport compact 5-door market, I love the look of the 2014 Ford Fiesta ST. Were I to be given the option of changing any portion of the exterior, I would be hard pressed to any changes that would make this sporty little hatchback any cooler…and that includes the awesome Green Envy paint. This isn’t a sport compact that is going to make everyone around you on the road think that it is driven by a 17 year old kid with crazy sport styling, but it has that special something to stand out in the segment as one of the key performance players.

The Interior
The 2014 Ford Fiesta ST is a 5-door sport compact so the interior is a little on the tight side for my liking, but there is a surprising amount of space for a vehicle in this segment.

fiesta st front seats

Up front, the Fiesta ST-specific Recaro seats allow for plenty of leg, knee, head and shoulder room – even for taller adults – but the elbow space can get a little tight over the thin central armrest. Also, the Recaro front seats keep the driver and front passenger firmly in place during stints of very spirited driving and, surprisingly, I found the Fiesta ST Recaro seats to be a touch wider and a touch more comfortable than the Recaro seats in the Focus ST. I love race style seats and I like both of these Recaro options, but I found the Fiesta ST seats to have thigh bolsters that are just a touch wider and this allowed me to more comfortably access the clutch and throttle. That being said, the Recaro seats are worth every cent of the $1,995 upcharge for their comfort and their functionality. Those seats are clad in dark leather outers with white stitching, grey cloth centers and an embroidered ST logo on the seatback.

fiesta st rear seats

The back seats are a traditional bench seat with a bucket design in the padding that is designed to look like the Fiesta ST Recaro front seats. There is a center seat, but it’s not much good for anyone other than a small child that is just old enough to be out of the car seat. With the front seats adjusted to accommodate a 6 foot tall driver and front passenger, there isn’t a world of leg room in the back seats, but the shape of the rear foot well allows for more room to move your feet around than many of the other compacts I’ve tested. I don’t know that I would drive to Vegas with four tall adults, but there is enough space in the rear seats to comfortably accommodate four adults for a drive across town.

Also, the 2014 Ford Fiesta ST has a surprisingly roomy rear cargo area that will easily hold the bags from a big shopping trip, 300lbs of bagged horse grain or even a large hockey bag…although you have to put the sticks between the front seats. There is a tonneau that lifts with the rear hatch to hide away the contents of your cargo area and when you have larger cargo, you can quickly remove the tonneau to expand the cargo space.

fiesta st cargo

In terms of technology, the 2014 Ford Fiesta ST won’t blow you away, but it also won’t leave you wishing that you had purchased a more luxurious car and this is thanks to the Sony MyFord Touch infotainment system that is found in almost every new Ford Motor Company product. This big, easy to use touch screen allows you access to the hands-free phone system, the navigation system, the Sony sound system and the system settings with addition control provided by the buttons on the steering wheel, a small group of buttons on the center stack and, best of all, MyFord has a fluid voice control system that lets you make the most of the navigation system without taking your eyes off of the road. The only difference with the Fiesta ST infotainment system is that it does not work with the climate control system, which is instead controlled by a simple button panel lower on the center stack. This is the same area with the ESC control button and the power buttons for the heated front seats.

fiesta st dash

The 2014 Ford Fiesta ST isn’t the highest tech compact, but it is one of them. This interior is really impressively appointed and surprisingly roomy for a high performance model that only costs $25k so as compact 5-door cars go – the Fiesta ST interior is hard to challenge.

The Drive
The key features of the 2014 Ford Fiesta ST all combine to make this one of the most exciting sport compact cars that I have ever driven.

This begins with the 1.6L EcoBoost 4-cylinder engine that is tucked behind the aggressive face, sending 197 horsepower and 202lb-ft of torque to the front wheels by means of a close ratio 6-speed manual transmission and a torque vectoring system that helps to provide more control during hard acceleration.

fiesta st front

This drivetrain doesn’t make the Fiesta ST incredibly quick in a straight line relative to most of the other sporty models sold in America, but when combined with the sport tuned ST suspension and the ST steering setup, this is easily one of the best handling small cars sold in America. This suspension brings the car about a half inch closer to the ground for improved cornering and reduced body roll, but it also allows you to attack short, tight corners aggressively with a whole lot of confidence. This is a compact that you can throw into almost any tight turn without much concern of the ST coming up short. In fact, the lightweight construction of the Fiesta ST gives the smaller of the two ST cars a very similar (if not greater) fun to drive factor as the more powerful Focus ST. I love the added grunt of the Focus, but the Fiesta packs great low and mid-range acceleration with a level of agility that is hard to match in the American sport compact segment.

fiesta road ftont

The only downside to the 2014 Ford Fiesta ST – and I should note that this is only a downside to some people (not to me) – is that this is a performance minded vehicle with a suspension system that focuses more on handling than ride quality. The ride isn’t terrible, but it is very sporty and very stiff. You can hear and feel the bumps in the road, but I consider that added noise to be a very welcome trade-off for the handling capabilities and a price under $26,000. There are far more expensive sports cars sold in America that don’t handle as well or ride as well so those folks who are considering the Fiesta ST should expect a stiff, sporty ride. I thought that it was fine, but some passengers who were less interested in the fun to drive factor complained that it was a little rough compared to most compacts which do their best to numb any suggestion of road feel.

fiesta st road rear

Finally, while most people don’t and shouldn’t care about fuel economy when shopping for a performance model, the fact of the matter is that the 2014 Ford Fiesta ST offers all of this driving excitement while still offering a very real 35 miles per gallon on the highway and a combined number of 29 miles per gallon. I have to admit that I drove the Fiesta ST pretty hard and that lead to lower than expected fuel economy, but I still averaged 27.3mpg in 8 days and over the course of 600 miles. I did notice on a longer highway trip that I was easily able to hit 35mpg while cruising along and I strongly believe that someone driving with the intention of getting great fuel economy could average 30mpg with lots of free flowing highway driving.

The Final Word
If you want an affordable performance minded car that can seat four people comfortably in a cabin with lots of modern technology while also being able to rock out on the road course when the car has been emptied out of unnecessary ballast – all for under $26,000 – the 2014 Ford Fiesta ST is the car for you. It is a total blast to drive in any situation, yet it is subtle enough to easily serve as a daily driver while being able to hit 35mpg on the highway. The Fiesta ST offers features and capabilities that are very hard to find in the American market and even harder to find for that price so if you want a true sport compact 5-door for an incredible value price, you should make certain to drive the Fiesta ST before making your next new car purchase.

Like the Focus ST, the Ford Fiesta ST is very clear proof that Ford Motor Company can offer a sport compact that will rival – and beat – the best from overseas for a budget price.


Sign-up to our email newsletter for daily perspectives on car design, trends, events and news, not found elsewhere.

Comments

Great review. Just one note - speaking from personal experience on my Fiesta ST, the climate CAN be controlled through the SYNC voice-activation system.
This is a superb new car which is designed in very well manner by the designers both exterior as well as interior so that it can become more aggressive and eye catching segment. Its features list is tempting and enticing. One thing more, its green color is ultimate which attracts to the buyers.
When I was recently shopping for a car, it came down to the Fiesta ST and the Civic SI coupe. I chose the Civic SI in Sunburst Orange, (Like the Fiesta's green, eye catching and unique). To me the Civic just felt more refined, mature if you will. In a straight line they both are probably very close, but the Honda feels faster. I give the nod to the Civic's six-speed, maybe the best in any car, at any price. On a road course, again, probably pretty evenly matched, but again I found the Civic to feel more refined when taking both cars out on a test drive on the back roads. Just my seat of the pants impression and I'm sure comes down to a matter of personal taste. After looking at both cars, fairly extensively, and considering price, (pretty even, slight edge to Honda), performance, (pretty even), design, (I just happen to like the Honda better in this regard), handling, (maybe the Ford had a slight edge), ride, (Honda, for me, hands down), everyday livability, (Honda), and then the final and probably the determining factor in my choice, reliability and quality. From personal experience having owned a couple of Models of both Brands in the past, all purchased new, Honda hands down. The couple of Fords I owned were horrible in this regard, while my Honda's were bulletproof. It would be interesting to see a back to back comparison including Instrumented testing and seat of the pants to see which one would come up the winner. My bet would be on the SI, but my guess is that it would be a really close call. Maybe get a little rivalry going between Parks and Patrick, (if there is none already), what do you think?