The ST-Line trim brings sports styling and handling without the higher costs of a 'proper' hot hatch, so what's it like to drive?
Butch looks, but cheap running costs. It’s a winning combination, and one that Ford has a proven track record in – not least given its unrivalled ability to make ordinary cars that have anything but ordinary handling.
The Ford Fiesta ST-Line promises to tick all of the above boxes. We know that the baby Ford – the best selling car in the UK so far in 2018 – sets the benchmark for a balance of comfort and fun in the small car market, so the ST-Line trim with its butched-up and lowered sports suspension promises big things.
The ST-Line is easy to spot. The honeycomb grille, the 17-inch alloys in a bespoke style, the bodykit that includes rear spoiler, sideskirts and tweaked front bumper… It’s all there and looking good.
The style stakes have been upped inside, too, with sports seats complete with red stitching, ST-Line steering wheel and gearknob, and ST-Line scuff plates. It’s all subtle enough to be tasteful, but striking enough to make the Fiesta ST-Line stand out a bit. It’s just a shame that you can’t get any of the interesting body colours that are reserved for Ford’s B&O trims. The only really stand-out colour in the ST-Line range is the £745 Blue Wave, or the standard colour choice - Race Red - looks pretty striking. Check out the gallery to see loads of photos of both.
Gallery: 2017 Ford Fiesta ST-Line
Still, the looks aren’t the only extra feathers lining the ST-Line nest, you also get sports suspension which – particularly if you go for the 1.0 EcoBoost 140, 125 or 100 engines, rather than the 1.5 diesel that’s also offered – should make this feel like a halfway house between the standard Fiesta and the ‘proper’ ST hot hatch version.
It’s also fairly well priced, bring priced the same as the Titanium trim that has more comfort equipment (such as dual-zone climate control) than ST-Line, but does without the sporting shades of the ST-Line. And you still get manual air-con, a 6.5-inch touchscreen with DAB radio, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and two USB inputs. You can also get the ST-Line in 3- and 5dr body styles, which is quite a rarity in the class these days,
How does it drive?
It really does feel like a semi hot-hatch, the ST-Line – even the cheapest 98bhp Ecoboost 100 variant that we’re testing. The standard six-speed gearbox has a slick, light shift, the engine revs vigorously and encourages you to let it rev out, and the handling is second to none in this class.
There’s a precision that makes it satisfying however you drive it, but it’s particularly evident if you swing it through some tight direction changes and feel it slice through the corner, sticking to the line you want and hunkering down for more when other hatches would be giving you understeer and ESP lights.
The ride is a touch lumpy around town (our test car's optional 18-inch wheels don’t help with that), and you know when you hit a coarse surface or patched up Tarmac. For all that, the ST-Line's stiffened suspension is damped with characteristic Ford magic, making it perfectly comfortable – actually more comfortable than some softer-riding rivals - despite an obvious sporting hint to the way the ST-Line drives. It's great fun without being hardcore or expensive. Spot on.
Should I buy one?
Yes. If you like the Fiesta, and you either like the looks of the ST-Line, or particularly want a fun Fiesta and can’t stretch to the full-fat Fiesta ST, it’s a great choice. Just be careful with the options list. With items like sat-nav, climate control and parking sensors all optional - before you've even started considering a black roof and mirrors, bigger alloys or privacy glass - you can find your ST-Line heading towards £20k and above very easily.
One final critical consideration is that the Seat Ibiza FR – the sporty-looking but affordable version of the Ibiza – is better equipped, roomier inside, almost as fun to drive, and is cheaper on list price and monthly finance. Put £2000 down on a three year contract for the 5dr Fiesta ST-Line 1.0 Ecoboost 100 and you’re looking at £258 per month, while the Seat Ibiza FR 1.0 TSI 95 will cost you £222. The Fiesta is certainly the enthusiast’s choice, but otherwise look carefully at the Ibiza before deciding where to put your money.