2015 Ford Fiesta ST
Base price: $22,195
As tested: $26,100
Having three cylinders ought to consign any car to a permanent place in the right lane, where it can eventually accelerate to 40 miles an hour at its own chosen (non) speed. But the Fiesta ST’s three cylinders plus a turbocharger give this pipsqueak a fierce acceleration accompanied by an authoritative exhaust blort that was a continued pleasure over a week’s test. Specifically, the engine produces 197 horsepower and 214 lb-ft of torque at 3500 RPM and you can blast from zero to 60 in less than seven seconds. Even more impressive is its mileage – somewhere around 30 combined city/highway miles per gallon, depending on your driving style.
The car won’t work for you if you’re vertically or horizontally large, and the conformed seats with smart stitching work for some spines and not for others. Otherwise, it’s a driver’s car through and through, with 17-inch alloy wheels and ST-unique sport suspension, aluminum pedals, available race-inspired RECARO® leather-trimmed front seats and special ST design elements. It’s also got this oddly named “active nibble control” – a Ford invention – which senses and compensates for road imperfections. What if I want those imperfections, though, so I can really feel where my tires are? I don’t want a car that does a Photoshop on the highway. Let me go around the bumps, Ford. Its dynamic stability control system, on the other hand, is a needed and welcome feature that works flawlessly. Toss the car into a sharp turn and you maintain grip, understeer and drift, all with ease.
The amount of stuff you get for the price is sweet, like auto headlights, auto wipers, keyless entry and button start, fog lights, climate control and part-leather Recaro sports seats. Other candy includes an intuitive console, available painted-metallic accents, soft-touch materials and more. Optional features like heated leather-trimmed seats, SYNC® and Intelligent Access with push-button start add to the classy, speedy, stylish Fiesta flavor.
The Fiesta isn’t a Porsche or an Audi, and it isn’t meant to be. But it’s good to see an American sport compact that gets everything right.