The Ford Fiesta ST Is a Party on Four Wheels

ford fiesta st
The Ford Fiesta ST: If You Know, You KnowCayce Clifford
ford fiesta st
Cayce Clifford

“I think people kind of look down on a Fiesta,” says professional stunt driver Sera Trimble. “In Los Angeles traffic, they’ll let you in where they wouldn’t a BMW or something, because they assume you must be having a bad day if you’re driving a Fiesta. But if you know, you know.”

This story originally appeared in Volume 22 of Road & Track.

If you know, you know: The Fiesta ST has long been on the list of car-enthusiast secret handshakes. From the outside, it’s a stunted little economy car occupying the lowest rung at the rental-car lot. But from behind the wheel, there’s more joy to be found here than in many cars with six-­figure prices.


Trimble, whose recent credits include Barbie, Bullet Train, and Licorice Pizza, got her first Fiesta ST after a group drive captained by Road & Track editor-at-large Matt Farah. She and a bunch of fellow gearheads tackled the twisting canyon roads above L.A. in a fleet of press loaners that included a Porsche 911 and a Jaguar F-Type, swapping seats at every stop and sharing impressions. The Fiesta ST was the cheapest car there, yet everybody had to be practically dragged from behind the wheel.

ford fiesta st
The Fiesta ST is a joy machine disguised as an unassuming economy car. Cayce Clifford

“We were like, that Jaguar costs three times as much as the Fiesta, but is it actually three times more fun?” Trimble recalls.

Ford launched the Fiesta nameplate in the Seventies in Europe, where it joined the Escort in the fast-Ford tradition of rallying. On this side of the Atlantic, both models were more about fuel savings than performance.

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Sera Trimble enjoying some moments of anxiety-free motoring.Cayce Clifford

However, in 2014, Ford launched the Fiesta in ST trim, powered by a turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder with a feisty 197 hp. A retuned suspension and grippy rubber were good for more than 0.90 g on the skidpad, and the 98.0-inch wheelbase gave the ST flickable handling.

And further, the Fiesta ST driving experience is greater than the sum of any of the numbers it generates. Dive into a corner, and if you lift off the throttle, it’ll wag its tail into puppyish oversteer, then scamper out the other side with short gearing and a midrange overboost from the turbo­charged engine. It’s like someone fitted a steering wheel to a Jack Russell terrier.

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Cayce Clifford

Trimble’s first Fiesta ST, nicknamed “Spaceball 2,” was her go-to daily driver for bombing around L.A. on the way to a set or just running errands. As the phone kept ringing, she was able to trade up to more expensive rides, but she still got that twinge every time she saw a Fiesta ST in traffic.

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“It was my most missed car,” she says.

Sure enough, a new ST ideal for short city blasts soon turned up in the driveway. Trimble says driving it in notoriously aggressive L.A. traffic is a completely different experience from trying to protect the shiny perfection of something more costly or collectible. “It’s just anxiety-free,” she says.

ford fiesta st
Cayce Clifford

Stunt work doesn’t have an Oscars category, and similarly, the Fiesta ST is unlikely to be feted at a concours event. Instead, it just gets to work, shrugging off door dings, slotting into a parking spot of any size, and pinballing through traffic like an amped-up photon through a glass of water molecules.

That same recipe of everyday ordinary with a dose of nimble performance made the original Mini Cooper such a giant killer. It’s a shame that Ford nixed the Fiesta ST in North America after 2019. Small cars have small profit margins, so manufacturers would rather build crossovers. But if you’ve ever driven a Fiesta ST, you’ve felt the magic. It’s one of our most missed cars too.

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