Ford is, at last, confirming that the Fiesta ST will be sold in the United States. With a 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder producing 197-hp and 214 lb-ft of torque, it may be the new performance king in the fledgling subcompact car segment.
We have seen the Fiesta ST before —Ford introduced the five-door version as a concept at the 2011 Los Angeles auto show. The production version, which is fittingly premiering one year later at the same venue, confirms that there was hardly anything conceptual about it. The aggressive grille, seventeen-inch wheels, and even the look-at-me orange metallic paint carry over with little changes. The expected interior tweaks, including thickly bolstered sport seats and metal-accented petals, are likewise present.
The power, though, is a little bit of a surprise. Ford had previously estimated the Fiesta ST would produce 180 hp and 177 lb-ft of torque. That’s roughly in line with what this engine produces in other applications and would have put it near the head of a hot hatch class that includes the 160-hp Fiat 500 Abarth and the 181-hp Mini Cooper S. The actual numbers, in particular the 214 lb-ft of torque, make the ST a rather different animal. The only subcompact that offers comparable power is the pricey Mini John Cooper Works. Not surprisingly, there’s a fuel economy hit for all this increased thrust, as Ford estimates it will achieve 34 mpg on the highway versus the base model’s 39 mpg.
To get all that power to the ground, Ford has modified the front control arms. A stiffer rear axle, along with brake based torque vectoring, should help reduce understeer. The rest will be up to your footwork, as the only transmission to be offered is a six-speed manual transmission.
We’ll have more details on the Fiesta ST from the floor of the L.A. auto show later this week.