Every now and then a car comes along that just nails its design brief.
Invariably these machines become sought-after classics and we reckon the WZ Fiesta ST is guaranteed such a status in years to come. It’s unlikely ever to command big money, but then again Peugeot 205 GTis are commanding up to $60K these days, so who knows?
Why all this talk of classic status? The current-generation Fiesta ST has now ceased production. You might still find a few kicking about Aussie dealer yards if you’re quick, but essentially this terrific little hot hatch is now yesterday’s news.
There had been sporty Fiestas before, most notably the entertaining XR4, however the ST arrived somewhat like a bolt from the blue (oval). The standard Fiesta had always impressed with its driving dynamics, but few could have foreseen just how good a true performance version would be.
Under the bonnet sat a 1.6-litre turbo four developing 134kW/240Nm, however an overboost function lifted this to 147kW/290Nm for up to 20 seconds at a time, so basically always. Throttle response was excellent, it made a satisfyingly growly noise and was attached to an accurate, mechanical-feeling six-speed manual gearbox.
Combine this feisty powerplant with a fluid, brilliantly adjustable chassis and you have an all-time hot hatch great, especially when you consider this dynamic magic could be yours for just $25,990!
It quickly became one of MOTOR’s favourite cars regardless of price. On road or track, if a Fiesta ST was present on a test you knew you were going to have a good time. Shortly after launch it dispatched the Peugeot 208 GTi in a comparison test and followed this up with victory against the VW Polo GTI and Renault Sport Clio RS.
At Performance Car of the Year 2014 it scored a giant-killing third place, wedged between a Porsche Cayman S and Mercedes-AMG A45, while at the value-based Bang For Your Bucks it was dominant with back-to-back outright victories in 2014 and 2015.
Eventually the Fiesta ST had to cede its BFYB crown and segment supremacy to the updated VW Polo GTI however the Ford remains the more engaging steer. Slightly underdone brakes and occasional steering kickback over bumps were its only real dynamic weaknesses, though the ride could be pretty terse.
Unfortunately, Ford wouldn't disclose how many Fiesta STs it had sold in its four years on sale, however we suspect the number is somewhere around 2000.
However, Ford’s Product Communications Manager, Damion Smy, was happy to tell us: “The Fiesta ST really seems to have struck a chord with driving enthusiasts. Even at the end of its model cycle, it still stands up in terms of driving involvement and value or money.” But then he would say that, because he drives one as a company car!
Ford Australia is keeping tight-lipped about its plans regarding the new-generation Fiesta ST. The new Fiesta range is not yet confirmed for local release, but hopefully the success of the last ST ensures that even if the cooking models don’t get a guernsey, the performance variant will.