Third Place – 2014 Ford Fiesta ST
The Fiesta ST is an interesting case of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts, or at least it feels that way. Statistically, it was consistently mid-pack, but because it was the most enjoyable front-wheel drive machine in the competition and 3rd most fun overall (behind the two rear-wheel drive entries), it moved up the overall rankings into a strong 3rd place, less than a point behind the winner.
The Scion FR-S woke us up to the fact that faster doesn’t always mean more fun when it first hit the market a few years ago, and the Fiesta ST continues this trend but adds a real hoonigan spirit to the equation. It’s just such a spirited little hot hatch, torque steer and all. Yes, the interior’s cramped and the ergonomics are a bit odd depending on your body shape, but once you stomp on the go-pedal you really do forget about all that and just revel in the urgency with which it accelerates and carves a corner.
We don’t care that it’s almost 2-seconds a lap slower than its big brother, the Focus ST, because it’s the rawness of the Fiesta’s performance that engages and entertains me as a driver. It looks immature, it feels immature, and that’s exactly why it’s so much fun to blast around in. It’s the Fountain of Youth on 4-wheels, and we love it.
More analytically, what we love most about the Fiesta ST is that you can pitch it into corners like a rallycross car, or you can drive it into corners like a road racer and it’ll carve a perfect arc and scoot out onto the straights as tidily as you’d like. It’s a rare thing for a front-wheel drive chassis to offer such a wide range of driving styles and such an immediate willingness to change directions, and it’s this freedom of expression that epitomizes a true driver’s car.
Lap time: 1:28.516 (5th)
Top Speed: 95.8 MPH (4th)
Max Cornering G-Force: 1.12 (4th)
Max Braking G-Force: 0.75 (6th)
Fun To Drive On The Track (out of 25): 21 (3rd)
Engine: 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder, 197 HP, 202 lb-ft
Transmission: Six-speed manual
Drivetrain: Front-wheel drive, eTVC differential
Fuel Economy Ratings: 26 MPG City, 35 MPG Highway
Fuel Economy Observed: 36.8 MPG
Price: $24,220 after destination charges