First Look: Ford Fiesta ST Concept

Turbocharged Ford Fiestas bounce across Rallycross courses and wind their way through WRC stages around the world, but why should rally drivers have all the fun? Perhaps they won't -- the Ford Fiesta ST Concept, which debuted at the 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show, is likely a sign of hot hatches to come.

Although the notion of a performance-tuned Fiesta isn't exactly new (RS1800, anyone? XR2i or XR Turbo? Anyone?), this is the first attempt to craft one for global consumption. Jost Capito, Ford's director of Global Performance Vehicles, says this new ST show car is proof positive that the company's Global Performance Plan has legs, and can extend well beyond the forthcoming 2012 Focus ST, which is debuting alongside the Fiesta ST at Frankfurt.

Mechanically speaking, the Fiesta ST show car abides by the same mechanical formula used on its big brother. The hot hatch, built off the European three-door model, retains its front-wheel-drive architecture. Power is still provided by a turbocharged, direct-injection, EcoBoost-branded four-cylinder engine, but that's where the similarities end. Displacing 1.6 liters, the Fiesta's dual-overhead cam mill is about four-tenths of a liter shy of the Focus, but it certainly isn't lacking power.

Preliminary figures indicate the 1.6-liter EcoBoost, which is mated to a six-speed manual transmission, produces a stout 180 hp and 177 lb-ft of torque, roughly on par with the similar Volkswagen Polo GTI. Ford says that power is enough to rocket the Fiesta ST from 0-62 mph in 7 seconds, and to a top speed of 135 mph. That's a tick slower than the Polo (0-62 mph in 6.9 seconds, top speed of 142 mph), but impressive nonetheless.

As is the case with the Focus, the ST overhaul also ushers in a cosmetic overhaul for the Fiesta. A tall, blistered hood carries down into a new front fascia dominated by a large honeycomb grille. Side sills, a hoop-style rear wing, and an aggressive rear diffuser add to the image, but the car's hunkered-down, muscular stance is attributed to flared wheel arches; a lowered ride height; and five-spoke, 17-inch aluminum wheels. Interior photos have yet to be released, but Ford promises both a "high contrast" color scheme (we wouldn't be surprised to see Molten Orange accents matching the exterior hue) and grippy Recaro bucket seats.

Perhaps the only thing on this car that shouldn't be is the "concept" title: Ford insists the car isn't confirmed for production at this stage, but the number of development mules spotted around the world suggest the ST is more than a mere styling exercise. Even Ford's press materials suggest the show car is a look at what a performance Fiesta will look like when -- not if -- "it joins the Focus ST in the global small car portfolio." As for when, insiders hint a production-spec Fiesta ST could launch a year after the Focus ST, making 2013 seem like a safe bet.

Is there really room in Ford's portfolio for two compact pocket rockets? Time will tell if a new Fiesta ST will complement or compete against the Focus ST, but seeing as the last hot Fiesta was a rousing success across the pond, we think enthusiasts the world over will appreciate having yet another option when it comes to picking a hot hatch.

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