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Eff One

The Fiesta ST adventure

It's taken a while to rack up enough miles to form an opinion - thank Mrs Eff's broken leg for that - but 350 miles in, the Wee Blue Beastie and I are getting along just fine. It's spent most of its time on a cross-country A road commute which is a little straight for its (and my) taste, but nevertheless has enough humps, crests, bumps, ruts and twists to give car and driver a decent twice-daily workout.

So what have I learned?

1. It's stiff. I've owned some stiffly sprung cars, but I reckon only the VX220 matches the ST in this regard. I've started to push it a little in the last week but so far there's virtually no impression of roll, pitch or heave. It simply stays flat and darts where you point it.

2. It's remarkably well damped. As often reported in the press, Ford have cut it fine here - I think they could have softened it slightly and preserved its agility - but the ST's ability to keep its tyres in touch with the road, rolling the edges off ruts and bumps, is very impressive. Through corners where our (hugely softer) Focus is knocked off line, the Fiesta resolutely hangs on.

3. The engine is a gem. Free-spinning, turbine-smooth, giant-killing grunt especially in the middle two gears, pleasingly growly soundtrack, very good throttle response for a turbo (not as scalpel-like as, say, a Clio 172 or Alfa GTA but much better than my old VXT) and commendable economy (38mpg so far).

4. The steering has its foibles. The wheel is perfect and it never has that light, disconnected feeling so prevalent in electric systems - but just occasionally, it weights up disproportionately when a lot of lock is applied. Most of the time the weighting is very good and there's just about enough feel; it's miles better than any other electric system I've tried (aside from a standard Mk7 Fiesta). But I do miss my old MX-5's rack a little.

5. The transmission takes some getting used to. The gearchange is super-light and quick, very similar to the Focus ST's - as in the Focus, it feels a little insubstantial (but isn't). I'd prefer a slightly more oiled feel, but the lightness suits the smaller car better than the Focus. The clutch engages very quickly and very low which is probably great at 10/10ths but makes it difficult to change up smoothly at low speed, especially in the first three gears. It can be done, and it's focusing my mind. All three pedals are perfectly placed and weighted. Which brings me to...

6. The brakes, which are superb. In terms of pedal feel, progression and retardation, they're right up there with the best I've tried - my VXT and GTA both had superb brakes and I've had a few runs on road and track in 987 Boxsters which are probably my personal benchmark.

7. Living with it is mostly a doddle. The ST touches lift the standard Fiesta interior nicely; the seats are extremely comfortable (though they don't go quite low enough), the mood lighting works well and the minor controls are less plasticky than I expected. It's an ST2, which means a decent level of FG including heating for the seats, daytime running lights and DAB. You can sync your phone, etc, but I'm pretty much binary when driving - never use my phone, almost never turn the radio on.  

It's prone to tramlining like virtually every quick car I've driven, and its noise levels are almost entirely dependent on the road surface. There's a fair amount of tyre roar on rough tarmac, but it's no worse than the Focus ST or indeed our boggo Mk2 Focus. Unlike the Focus, it turns quiet on smooth tarmac. It'll never be the most relaxing of drives, but it's a perfectly acceptable long distance companion.

I still think it looks fantastic from any angle, and that the Spirit Blue and Style Pack (grey wheels/red calipers) is the best colour combination.

I'll add to this in the coming months as the miles rack up. So far, it's living up to the hype  
Martin

Excellent, pleased to hear you're enjoying it, sounds like a cracking little car!
Stuntman

This thread is crying out for a gratuitous picture of the car.

Interesting to read your comparisons versus the VXT's ride, engine and brakes.  I probably disagree with you on the VXT's brakes; certainly in my experience the ABS would kick in ridiculously early on bumpy roads and from then on the retardation would be poor.  And I thought it rode very well indeed, it felt pretty supple for what it was.  Probably softer than my Cayman S or that might be rose-tinted specs.  Anyway, if the Fiesta ST rides as well as my old VXT I'd think it was just fine, and the engine sounds as if it's pretty darn impressive.  Do you think you'll Mountune it at some point?

Glad you're loving it so far!
TreVoR

Glad you like it.  Small, fast cars are great fun.
Chris M Wanted a V-10

Glad it's that good; keep your fingers crossed I will be able to afford to upgrade the Ka to a Fiesta at PCP end-time in July next year
Eff One

Stuntman wrote:
Interesting to read your comparisons versus the VXT's ride, engine and brakes.  I probably disagree with you on the VXT's brakes; certainly in my experience the ABS would kick in ridiculously early on bumpy roads and from then on the retardation would be poor.  And I thought it rode very well indeed, it felt pretty supple for what it was.  Probably softer than my Cayman S or that might be rose-tinted specs.  Anyway, if the Fiesta ST rides as well as my old VXT I'd think it was just fine, and the engine sounds as if it's pretty darn impressive.  Do you think you'll Mountune it at some point?

Glad you're loving it so far!


People on the owner's club forum used to complain about the VXT's brakes; I remember frightening passengers with their ability to haul the car down from some speed in very little space. Maybe I was lucky/not trying hard enough. Or perhaps I've forgotten - it was over a decade ago.

I didn't mean to imply that the ST rides like a Lotus. What it does very nearly as well is control its mass and stay flat through fast corners. To achieve that, Ford have set it up very stiff and used all of their considerable skills to keep the ride just the right side of acceptable. But it can't match the magic carpet sophistication of a Lotus (or a Porsche with PASM, I suspect). It's 250kg heavier than a VXT or Elise and half the price, after all.

Despite being 4 months pregnant and still hopping around on crutches with her broken leg in a brace, Mrs Eff can get in and out of the ST unaided and is comfortable in the front. I call that a win.

I may look at some Mountune bits in the future but for now I'm loving it as it is.
Stuntman

Thanks for replying, Andrew.  

To be fair, I found the VXT's brakes to be very good most of the time, it was just on downhill bumpy roads that the ABS would cut in very early and then not seem to work very well as brakes, which was occasionally somewhat frustrating and annoying.  I never had an issue with the car's braking on track.

Keep having fun!
Andy C

Sounds great, Andrew

If it's road manners are like the 1.0 ecoboost with the wick turned up , then it must be amazing
Eff One

Stuntman wrote:
This thread is crying out for a gratuitous picture of the car.


Complete with 400 miles of winter grime:



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PR

That is a cracking looking car. Several of my colleagues have them and all love them.

If you do decide to treat it to some Mountune goodies it would be well worth your while to trek up this way to visit Dan Jackson.
scamper

I've just noticed it's 3 door.  Does it have ISOFIX? Report back on the practicality around June time  
Eff One

scamper wrote:
I've just noticed it's 3 door.  Does it have ISOFIX? Report back on the practicality around June time  


Yes, it has ISOFIX and has already done a creditable job of carting donated baby stuff home from various relatives. I'm not planning for baby to spend much time in it, but I hope we'll be able to use it for trips to the Lakes etc.
Eff One

I've been meaning to post an ST update for ages. Little Eff is now 3 months old, and while the firstborn mayhem continues unabated, we have adjusted to the point where I have headspace for something other than nappies.

I've done 4,500 miles since I bought the ST last November, mostly on a fast A-road commute with the odd longer trip. For the most part, it's an extremely easy car to live with, and I always look forward to driving it.

It's not for everyone though. As I've said before, the ride would be unacceptably hard for many. Although the edges of bumps and ruts are rounded off, keeping the tyres in contact with the tarmac, you still feel each and every one.

The upside is, of course, the way it handles which is pretty much as advertised. It will cover ground very quickly indeed but more importantly, it's communicative, intuitive and entertaining. The steering is better than I first thought; still more kickback than I'd like but I suspect the front tyres are partly to blame. They're past their best at 13k miles and will need replacing before summer's end. The brakes are still superb, combining huge stopping power with great pedal feel.

The engine is everything you'd want in a car like this - smooth, free-revving, flexible enough to reel in the next hairpin at warp speed or lope along at a 2,500rpm motorway cruise. My 38mpg winter average has risen to more than 40mpg over the summer.

The interior remains a very comfortable place to be, regardless of your work rate; although it's clearly built down to a price, it's all properly screwed together and works well. The Recaro seats are the undoubted highlight. My only real gripe is with the indicator stalks, which feel particularly cheap and flimsy.

There is only one Achilles heel, and that's the gearchange. Slick and fast for the most part, it can be clunky and uncooperative in low gears at low speeds. I drive very carefully and smoothly, but find it difficult to avoid jolting, particularly on the change from 1st to 2nd. And even when I do manage to execute a smooth change, there's often an audible clunk. It's an ST 'feature' apparently, attributable to the gearbox design, the flywheel design, the engine mounts, the droplinks or the driveshaft - depending on who you ask. It'll be checked over at service time.

So it's not perfect. But with the honeymoon period well and truly over, I still think it's worthy of the accolades. And its grin-inducing ability is undiminished.
Blarno

Love these little things. I've always had a soft spot for quick Fiestas (Except the RS Turbo, which was a dog). I even looked into leasing an ST for a while, but I couldn't man maths it with my mileage and outlays.
Chris M Wanted a V-10

Eff One wrote:
My 38mpg winter average has risen to more than 40mpg over the summer.
(snip)
And its grin-inducing ability is undiminished.

That's ridiculous ! I'm only getting just over 50mpg from my ecoboost 100 now (after approx 2500 miles), and that's driving it with a very light right foot (most of the time); to get 40 when wringing it is amazing, and mine has the grin-inducing effect too  
Chocy Rocky

Good to hear you are still enjoying it. I'd love one of these at some point in the future.

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