"“When I explained the late switch from the Corvette to the Fiesta ST for a day at the track, the instructor nodded and said, 'You decided you wanted to have fun.'""
We didn’t waste any time putting our Four Seasons 2014 Ford Fiesta ST to work. Within the first month of its arrival, we took this sporty hot hatch to two autocross events and one track day. How did it hold up? Three staffers tell the story: associate web editor Jake Holmes, who piloted the Fiesta for the SCCA’s Starting Line autocross driving school; senior editor David Zenlea, who took it to a track day at Waterford Hills racetrack for an open track day; and associate web editor Eric Weiner, who used the Fiesta for an SCCA autocross event.
Oh, and in case you’re worried about our car’s health, the Fiesta was delivered to with 1500 miles on it, so it had already passed its 1000-mile break-in period before we flogged it on the track.
Holmes, a fan of hot hatches and the former owner of a Ford Focus SVT, was pleased with the 2014 Ford Fiesta ST’s performance around the cones, as he found it to be a useful learning tool for the Starting Line School.
“The Fiesta ST was a nimble weapon on tight oval, figure-eight, and slalom courses. It is really well balanced and has incredibly sharp turn-in with tons of front-end grip,” Holmes said. “Contrary to what I expected based on street driving, the Fiesta ST isn't especially tail-happy; my instructors had me using a teensy dab of lift-off oversteer on certain tight turns, and the effect is that the car's line tightens abruptly.”
Although the 2014 Ford Fiesta ST comes standard with performance-oriented Bridgestone Potenza summer tires, we may want to look for an upgrade down the road. “I'd be interested to see how this car performs with some dedicated high-performance tires, as it's very easy to overdrive the car out of turns,” Holmes said. He did mention that the Fiesta ST’s torque vectoring system did a good job of minimizing torque steer; during hard driving, though, the brakes are doing double duty keeping the power in check and actually braking, meaning that they can get a bit hot—Holmes even noticed them smoking at one point.
Given Holmes’ experience, Zenlea was a bit worried about cooking the brakes while he was on the track. But with the combination of a mostly uphill track and the Fiesta’s relatively low power output, he didn’t end up being very hard on the brakes.
Zenlea originally had been planning to take our Four Seasons 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray for his day at the course, but a last-minute change of plans found him behind the wheel of the Fiesta ST instead. “When I explained the late switch to the grizzled track inspector, he nodded and said, ‘You decided you wanted to have fun,’” Zenlea recounted. “Indeed, the ST proved to be the perfect car for enjoying a tight race track. The nicely weighted steering is quick enough that I was able to negotiate most of the track without shuffling my hands.”
Zenlea did complain that the aggressive side bolsters of our car’s optional Recaro seats got in the way of his elbow. And while the Fiesta ST had plenty of front-end grip at autocross speeds, the higher speeds of the track revealed the car’s front-wheel-drive limitations, as Zenlea noted the Fiesta ST’s tendency to understeer when pushed.
Finally, Weiner echoed many of Holmes’ and Zenlea’s thoughts as he threaded the 2014 Ford Fiesta ST around the cones in his first-ever autocross event. “Things happen so fast on an autocross course, and I was grateful to have the nimble Fiesta. I did the whole thing in second gear, and for a high-revving turbocharged engine I was thrilled with how much power there was in the low end,” Weiner said. “I love how the Fiesta ST is so easy to drive, and drive fast.”
After all this action, we rotated the tires, as the fronts were looking pretty worn (see pictures). Stay tuned to hear about the 2014 Ford Fiesta’s next, more conventional adventure as it takes a road trip to Illinois.
Autocross photos courtesy Jennifer Meredith.