Selfishly, I was hoping the new Ford Fiesta ST, which isn't coming to North America, wouldn't be great. That somehow Ford Performance lost the plot by switching to a 1.5-liter three-cylinder in place of a 1.6-liter four. Or that in becoming altogether more-refined, the Fiesta ST would have lost its manic edge. Sadly, for me, this isn't the case.
Carfection's Henry Catchpole comes away quite fond of the new Fiesta ST after a drive on a French mountain pass. It's a bit more "grown-up" than the outgoing ST, but it's still a joyful little hot hatch.
That three-cylinder engine plays a big role in making the Fiesta ST feel fun. Catchpole says that Ford Performance didn't opt for a three-cylinder instead of a four for any significant weight savings or fuel-economy gains—it was chosen mainly because it's cool. It certainly sounds more interesting than modern any turbo four.
A clever rear suspension design helps maintain rigidity, which translates into picking up an inside rear wheel in tight corners. Exactly what you want from a hot hatch. The optional Performance Pack also gets a Quaife limited-slip differential at the front, which helps the ST dig into corners.
The new Fiesta ST had big shoes to fill, as the previous-generation model was a favorite of so many enthusiasts, us included. It seems the new car does so with no trouble, which is great for the Europeans who will be able to buy it.
Oh well. Us in North America can take solace in the fact that you can still go to a Ford dealer and buy a previous-generation Fiesta ST, possibly at a steep discount.