Review: 2014 Ford Fiesta ST

Tuesday June 10th, 2014 at 11:66 AM
Posted by: D.Colman

2014 Ford Fiesta ST

By David Colman

Hypes: Porsche Performance at Motorbike Price
Gripes: Why Carp?

Drivers who still consider a car to be a precision tool rather than a blunt appliance will rejoice that Ford is into the second year of production for the sublimely satisfying Fiesta ST. With its affordable base price of just $21,400, this five door, five passenger hatchback is a slam dunk choice for any automotive enthusiast needing more than two seats. Few competitors in this price range come close to matching the sheer joy of driving the ST on a winding back road. VW’s soon to be introduced seventh generation GTI, the hot hatch that started the whole craze back in 1984, will carry a window sticker of $24,395. For that kind of money, you can afford to upgrade the Fiesta ST with the $1,995 optional Recaro seats and still beat the bottom line of VW’s standard bearer by a hundred bucks. The other main contender in this sporting market niche is Honda’s Civic Si, with a base price of $22,405 and a 201hp engine that overpowers the front wheel drive system.

Despite the fact that the Fiesta ST’s turbo motor makes 197hp, you rarely encounter torque steer. This is a beautifully balanced platform designed to handle the instant shove provided by the turbo four’s 202 pound-feet of torque. Although you have 6 gears to select in either manual or automatic gearbox form, the ST’s turbo spools up so fast that gear choice is almost irrelevant. Still, it is a pleasure to stir the cogs with a slick, short throw linkage that facilitates travel from gate to gate. The manual transmission is finely tailored to enhance the driving experience. Just as finely tailored are the optional and expensive Recaro front seats, which afford full upper torso support unmatched by any other economy sedan. Strap into these ribbed cloth beauties and you’ll feel like you’re about to take the starting flag at Le Mans.

2014 Ford Fiesta ST

While this hot hatch’s race breeding might leave you starry eyed, don’t overlook the fact that the ST is still a Fiesta, with all of that car’s innate useful virtues. For example, you’ve got 4 doors to ease entry to all 5 seating positions. You’ve got more green house glass than the Crystal Palace, so visibility in all directions is superb. Ford even throws in a rear window wiper at no extra cost and contributes heated front seats for the same price (free). Our test sample boasted a negligibly expensive ($795) navigation system with rather rudimentary graphics. But there’s nothing basic about the Sony premium audio system that’s standard ST fare, or the similarly standard automatic temperature control that lets you dial cabin comfort without taking your eyes off the road. Try pricing these niceties on some of the German competition, and you’ll quickly realize what a cozy financial package the ST represents.

2014 Ford Fiesta ST

Back in the 1960s, Chrysler Corporation was notorious for devising unforgettably named muscle car colors like Plum Crazy. Ford has happily extended that playful tradition with our Fiesta ST’s jarring shade of ($595 optional) Envy Green. Imagine a fresh lime dissolving in a sea of amber Corona beer and you get the idea of Green with Envy. Few cars in any price range own such visual bragging rights. And in the sub $30,000 category, blatant eye currency is virtually unattainable. But Envy Green just laughs at such preconceived expectations.

Better yet, this turbo terror’s performance exceeds even the vaunted promise of its flamboyant appearance. No bend is too tight to devour, no straight too short to gobble. Equipped with summer-use-only Bridgestone RE 050A Potenza rubber (205/40R17), the ST will slither through a slalom as fast as you can crank its fat rimmed steering wheel from lock to lock. And between those corner apexes, the turbo lights its afterburner so quick that you’ll find yourself dealing with the next apex Right Now. Although the ST masquerades well as a family conveyance, with all of those doors and seats, storage and conveniences, its true merit lies in its exceptional handling. If you’re looking for a practical hatchback but secretly hanker for something to autocross or time trial at track days, look no further than the Fiesta ST.

2014 Ford Fiesta ST

2014 Ford Fiesta ST

  • Engine: 1.6 liter GTDI inline 4, Turbocharged
  • Horsepower: 197hp
  • Torque: 202lb.-ft.
  • Fuel Consumption: 26 MPG City/36 MPG Highway
  • Price as Tested: $25,580
  • Star Rating: 10 out of 10 Stars

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Review: 2014 Ford Fiesta SE

Monday May 26th, 2014 at 8:55 AM
Posted by: D.Colman

2014 Ford Fiesta SE

By David Colman

Hypes: Sporting Tendencies, Practical Interior, Gas Genie
Gripes: Lacks Rear Seat Legroom, Distracting Rear View “Spotter” Mirrors

The latest Fiesta is an undeniably handsome design, with its ground hugging snoot, upturned tail, and primly pursed Aston Martin copy grill imbuing it with unexpected flair. The only discordant note in the stylistic aria is struck by the 15 inch SE standard alloy wheels, which are visually swamped by spaciously flared wheel wells. It’s been a long time – 40 years to be exact – since a 185/60R15 tire was considered to be the hot setup in street rubber. It’s not that these Hankook Optimo H426 tires perform without merit, rather that they just don’t look the part on this otherwise up to date styling exercise. The only thing you’ll really appreciate about these tires is their cheap price when it comes time to replace them with new ones. But if this were my Fiesta, I’d upgrade it with Plus 1 (16″) or Plus 2 (17″) tire and wheel packages, either through Ford, which offers both, or via an aftermarket supplier. In either event, the new Fiesta will look more like something from the 21st century than an artifact from the groovy Sixties.

2014 Ford Fiesta SE

In addition to its cleanly sculpted body, the SE Fiesta offers the impecunious buyer a host of other, more practical advantages. Topping the list is its negligible purchase price of just $15,450. You can hardly buy a decent motorcycle these days for that amount. Our test SE’s electric “Blue Candy” tint added a negligible $395 to the bottom line. Its “Power Shift” 6 speed automatic transmission, a $1,095 extra, bumped the bottom line to $16,940, still a sensational deal in the automotive scheme of things today. I would forego the optional transmission in favor of the standard 5-speed manual, which is such a pleasure to operate that it makes the lightweight (2,665 lbs.) Fiesta feel even sportier than it really is. The manual gearbox facilitates ratio choice, a job which is rather a chore with the automatic, which lacks paddles, and requires use of a minute, stick-located toggle switch to swap ratios.

You won’t be overwhelmed by the passing power of the Fiesta’s 120hp, 1.6 liter four, which makes just 112 pounds of torque. On the other hand, you’ll love how long it takes to drain this Ford’s 12 gallon fuel tank. We zipped all over the Bay Area for a solid week before stopping to refuel, because the range on a single tank is nearly 400 miles at 32 MPG overall. On highway trips, you can run close to 470 miles before a recharge, since the Fiesta is good for 39 MPG on the freeway. Of course, your butt might give out before your fuel supply, because the cloth seats of the SE are pretty much entry level in terms of adjustability and comfort. Fore and aft travel is manual, as is seatback rake, which is inconveniently controlled by a lever shrouded by the shoulder harness. Steering wheel angle is also manually adjustable, but there is no provision for altering reach.

2014 Ford Fiesta SE

The rear seats are useless unless your Fiesta is full of occupants no taller than 5 feet. Even then, your rear passengers will have to duck their heads to climb aboard. Anyone 5’8″ tall will find a dearth of knee room back there, and just 1 inch to spare in headroom. On the other hand, the Fiesta is perfect for packing 2 adults up front and a pair of kids in back. Ford even provides seatbelts and headrest for a 3rd, center mounted victim in the rear seat. Even with a full load of 4 or 5, the sedan leaves you with a surprisingly spacious trunk of 12.8 cubic feet. If your cargo requirements call for more storage length, the rear seats flip down in a 60/40 split pattern, though you’ll need to remove the rear headrests prior to flattening the seats.

Because the Fiesta is so small and nimble, it’s unexpectedly fun to drive. Even in this mildest state of tune, the SE offers immediate throttle response when you’ve dialed up the proper gear ratio. The steering is refreshingly accurate, and you can really boogie on back roads in spite of the Hankook’s modest adhesion limits. If your interests tend more to sporty driving than basic transportation needs, Ford’s Fiesta product line includes the turbocharged ST with 17 inch rims and 197hp. But for most occasions, the base engine is more than adequate. It may be hard to believe, but for the price of an entry level Harley Davidson bike, you can buy a genuinely useful, economic and good looking little sedan that exudes value and versatility.

2014 Ford Fiesta SE

2014 Ford Fiesta SE

  • Engine: 1.6 liter DOHC Inline 4
  • Horsepower: 120hp
  • Torque: 112 lb.-ft.
  • Fuel Consumption: 29 MPG City/39 MPG Highway
  • Price as Tested: $17,735
  • Star Rating: 9 out of 10 Stars

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2013 Ford Fiesta SES Review

Tuesday October 9th, 2012 at 9:1010 AM
Posted by: D.Colman

By David Colman

Hypes: Cute, Practical, City Parking Champ
Gripes: Auto Gearbox Kills the Buzz

The newly reissued Fiesta is small, practical, affordable, and cute. But along with those virtues, it also never lets you forget that it is cramped and underpowered. On the positive side of the ledger, the Fiesta is short enough to slip into any parking spot you can find. It’s even a pleasure to parallel park since side and rear vision is unrestricted. Its diminutive 98 inch wheelbase is 6 inches shorter than that of the Ford Focus, which itself is hardly a limousine. Hence the agile Fiesta is a lot of fun on twisty roads, willingly following your steering wheel command to flick it from side to side. Appealingly grippy performance rubber – 195/50/R16 Hankook Optimo H426 tires – underline the Fiesta’s innate balance and proclivity to carve corners.

The interior appointments of the top line SES model are soothing and handsome. The cloth trimmed seats feature tone on tone inserts that look like they belong on a tapestry in the museum of modern art. Their branch-like patterning contributes an air of Zen simplicity to the cabin. Even the pebbly dash top finish, which resembles compressed shipping cardboard, does a good job of quelling reflections and looking starkly modern. The center stack of the dash, constructed in a V-pattern to replicate a smart phone faceplate, works well with one exception. There’s a center volume control knob for the entertainment unit, but no matching knob to access station settings. This lack requires you to resort to an infuriating scan of the various push buttons, none of which accomplish the simple task of changing radio channels.

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Video: Ken Block’s Gymkhana Four – The Hollywood Megamercial

Tuesday August 16th, 2011 at 1:88 PM
Posted by: Derek

ken block gymkhana four

Ken Block, Ninja Warriors, Jaws, and Bacon Strips

Like any good sequel, the action gets bigger and bigger as Ken tries to raise the bar with his Gymkhana videos promoting his DC Shoes brand and high powered Ford Fiesta. Now close your office door, crank up the speakers, and prepare for some high-octane Hollywood fun.

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Subcompact Shootout – 2011 Mazda 2, Ford Fiesta and Honda CR-Z Review

Friday December 17th, 2010 at 3:1212 PM
Posted by: Kurt Gensheimer

By Kurt Gensheimer

Back in the early 1990s when I was a few years away from my first driver’s license, one of the hottest cars you could own was the tiny little 1991 Honda CRX Si in yellow. It was small, quick and had an obnoxiously loud paint job that called attention to itself wherever it was. I’d sit in the back seat of my parents’ car as they chauffeured me to and from school, fogging up the window as I gawked at that yellow CRX which was always parked in some lucky guy’s driveway. I saved every waking cent until the day I was old enough to drive and flush enough to buy my own yellow CRX. It never happened. By the time I had enough money, my tastes had changed, and the CRX had morphed into the less desirable Del Sol.

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Best Hybrid and Green Cars of 2010

Monday November 1st, 2010 at 8:1111 AM
Posted by: AKramer

CarReview_Best_Green_Car_2010By Alex Kramer

What a difference a decade makes. Ten years ago gas was cheap, the SUV was king, and fuel efficiency was one of the last things car buyers were concerned about. Surprisingly, it was also ten years ago that Honda and Toyota introduced a seemingly radical technology that involved strapping batteries and an electric motor to a gas engined car, creating the first hybrids.

Fast forward ten years and the traditional SUV has all but died out, gas is $3 per gallon, and hybrids are as common as apple pie. More importantly, awareness of global warming and our dependence on foreign oil, along with a depressed economy, has made fuel efficiency a far more important criteria for car buyers. This, in turn,  has spurred the automotive industry to pursue smaller, cleaner and more efficient designs. The result is a plethora of choices for buyers seeking a more fuel efficient, greener set of wheels.

Although hybrid cars are perhaps the most effective way to significantly increase fuel efficiency, with 9 out of the top ten most fuel efficient cars featuring a gas electric drivetrain, not everyone will be happy with the increased cost and performance sacrifice that often comes with hybrid ownership. Luckily we now also have a new generation of clean diesels that are nothing like the noisy, smoke belching diesels of the past, instead providing excellent performance along with hybrid worthy fuel efficiency. And for those who are wary of all of this alternative technology, there are finally plenty of efficient, well made small cars available in America.

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Posted in Expert Reviews, Feature Articles, Ford, Lexus, Mercury, Toyota, Volkswagen |Tags:, , , , , , , , || 4 Comments »


2011 Ford Fiesta Review – Leading the small car revolution

Monday July 26th, 2010 at 9:77 AM
Posted by: AKramer

2011 Ford Fiesta
By Alex Kramer

Pros:

  • Exceptional ride quality for an economy car
  • Precise steering and capable brakes
  • Smooth clutch action
  • Cheerful exterior design
  • Solid build quality

Cons:

  • Could use a few more horsepower
  • Tires start to protest way too early
  • Interior is a bit cramped, even for a subcompact
  • Exterior might be a bit too cute for some

Small is the new black, at least when it comes to automobiles. With the economy still lagging and consumers adjusting to what looks to be permanent $3 per gallon gas, the days of selling millions of large SUVs per year are over and small cars may just become the hottest segment of the market.

For once, American car manufacturers appear to have taken notice. Chrysler dealers will soon start selling the pint sized Fiat 500 and GM has several new small cars in the works, but it is Ford who is probably most well positioned to capitalize on this trend, with the new for America Fiesta subcompact now available and a fully redesigned Focus coming next year. We finally had the chance to thoroughly review the new Fiesta and although we aren’t completely bowled over, we could see quite a few people finding plenty to like in Ford’s European best-seller.

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Gymkhana Grid Competition, 2011 Ford Fiesta Review

Friday June 25th, 2010 at 3:66 PM
Posted by: Derek

Driving Sports TV Episode #26: – Ken Block is well-known for his Gymkhana videos where he took his Subaru Impreza WRX STI rally car and effectively went all out, drifting, power sliding and doing all sorts of crazy things in specially designed locations. Now, Block wants to turn Gymkhana into an actual motorsport, and has announced the Gymkhana Grid and the Ken Block Invitational competitions. Plus, Ryan flies to San Francisco to test the all-new Ford Fiesta on an autocross course.

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Driving Sports TVDriving Sports is an online publication and video series that strives to entertain, inform and engage. Click in every Wednesday at 10pm PST at drivingsports.com to watch a live streaming broadcast. If you can’t watch live, view the archives posted at drivingsports.com as well as their various syndication partners (YouTube, Streetfire, etc.)

Driving Sports is a registered trademark of MediaSpigot LCC.
Content is copyright 2003-2009 Driving Sports. All rights reserved.

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First Impressions: 2011 Ford Fiesta – Betting the future on a stylish, spunky subcompact

Tuesday November 24th, 2009 at 1:1111 PM
Posted by: AKramer

Euro-Spec Ford Fiesta Coupe

By Alexander Kramer

Pros:

  • Stylish exterior design
  • Impeccable road manners
  • Silky smooth clutch
  • Modern, well-appointed interior

Cons:

  • A bit pricey for a subcompact
  • Could use a few more ponies under the hood
  • Final US version could be watered down

Small is the new black
For Americans, bigger is often better, especially when it comes to automobiles. It’s no surprise, then, that American car manufacturers have generally avoided producing the kind of practical and efficient small cars that are so popular in the rest of the world. That is, until now. The folks at Ford believe there is a significant shift occurring that will make small cars as successful in the next decade as SUV’s were in the 90’s. Don’t believe it? Here are several factors that could lead to our parking lots looking a lot more like those in Europe.

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Ford Giving Free Fiestas to People 30-and-under

Tuesday February 24th, 2009 at 6:22 AM
Posted by: m35man

2009 ford fiesta 5-door

Tough economic times require new innovative forms of marketing, and that’s exactly what Ford Motor Company is doing by shipping 100 European Ford Fiestas to young Americans throughout the country and soliciting their feedback about the vehicle.

That’s right—FREE cars! Why didn’t they do things like this when I was young? (about 25 years ago!)

The promotion is part of Ford’s mission to appeal to “Millennials”–people ages 14-30, who represent the future buying power of not just the United States, but the world.

The 14-year-olds in this group won’t be able to drive for a couple of years, but when they do, Ford wants to be there with the Fiesta in the forefront of their growing minds. It’s a smart move—getting into this age group early on helps build brand awareness that the carmaker hopes will last a lifetime.

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