Today I had the opportunity to check out and shakedown drive the Ford Fiesta ST as part of an event for press and Ford special guests. I am always impressed how manufacturers are able to put together events like this (having deep pockets help). Just the logistics of being able to line up ten new Ford Fiesta STs in front of a NYC boutique hotel with no parking is a feat within itself.
The Fiesta ST with all of the trimmings comes in right around $25K. Which is really good considering what you get- to get that level of performance in JCW you are going over 30K. Or in the land of Abarth you get some goods but not the works like you have here. About the only thing that comes close in terms of a value proposition is the Chevy Sonic RS, but at 197 horsepower and 202 ft/lbs of torque, the Ecoboost is smashing the bow tie mill.
More importantly, you get amazing technology. The same MyFordTouch screen that is in my C-Max (albeit smaller) is front and center in the Fiesta. The interior HVAC controls are nicer looking now than in previous editions, and heated amazing Recaro seats fit the bill. The only thing I was not digging about the seats or interior was the inability of the Recaro seatbacks to be adjusted. The seats can be slid fore and aft, and the angle can be adjusted, but the seat back stays stationary. But you could not skip the Recaro seat package just because they look too damn nice.
We got into a discussion about the torque vectoring ‘electronic’ differential versus the limited slip differential with the Ford engineers. There are advantages to running with electronics- packaging, weight, and price. And racers who have tried the vehicle are in love with what Ford has done. Since I only took the vehicle up to 7/10ths (these are public roads in and around NYC, after all), all seemed very well buttoned down and the handling was excellent.
The group was partnered up and I was linked to a Ford special guest’s assistant. Who worked for a urban clothing company. Who was a really nice guy. Who never drove a manual transmission in his life. Which meant I got to drive the entire route of around 100 miles. Someone with a Facebook page dedicated to this is laughing right now. But after we set off and being a MyFordTouch master, I showed him how to connect his phone to the SYNC system and we streamed Drake and Wiz Khalifa through the sound system for the ride. Which had him hysterical as I am not the age, demo, or color of the typical hip-hop listener, but I gets down wit it.
When there was a pause for a driver change, I drove around the back of the restaurant where the swap was supposed to take place and let GQ have a go. I felt just like my dad twenty some-odd years ago. “OK son, its your turn now. Push in the clutch pedal, put the shifter into first gear, and slowly release the pedal.” We got some motion. Then stalled. And that was enough to make GQ happy as he finally at least tried a stick shift.
Overall, the Fiesta ST is a wonderful package and option for the Sport Compact Car lover. The only thing missing was an extra lever on the seatback and a badass subwoofer kicking bass for the tunes. Although the curb weight comes in at a svelte 2700 pounds, I have no qualms suggesting an extra thirty pounds of sub in the back to make this the ultimate fun ride for any Millennial who still will bother with the art of the manual transmission. Luckily, there are still a few of us out there…