Ford Fiesta ST is a red-hot hatchback

The 2014 Ford Fiesta, available as a four-door sedan or five-door hatchback in S, SE and Titanium trim levels, is a jaunty, enjoyable subcompact. The 2014 Ford Fiesta ST, ostensibly just another trim level, is an entirely different species.

Offered only in five-door hatchback configuration and gifted with a new high-output version of Ford’s 1.6-liter EcoBoost (turbocharged) four-cylinder engine, the Fiesta ST is nothing less than a red-hot hatch.

The four-cylinder generates 197 horsepower and 202 lb-ft of torque to propel this little car weighing just 2,742 pounds. The engine’s perfectly-suited helpmate is a six-speed manual transmission with a light clutch and pinpoint shifting. In keeping with diehard sports-car methodology, an automatic transmission is not available on the ST.

EPA fuel economy ratings are 26 mpg city and 35 mpg highway. Premium fuel is recommended.

As a genuine performance car, Fiesta ST is fitted with the requisite trappings, including sport-tuned suspension, steering tweaked for better responsiveness, beefed-up brakes, a chin spoiler, dual exhaust pipes with bright tips, a high-mount rear spoiler and 17-inch sport wheels. The sport steering wheel unique to the ST is tiltable and includes cruise and audio controls. Rear axle roll stiffness is increased for more stability during fast cornering, and the body sits 15 millimeters lower than the other Fiesta models.

My tester’s creatively-named and killer Molten Orange Metallic paint, a $595 option, was a big part of its personality. The color is exclusive to the ST. A $1,995 Recaro package embellished the interior with heatable, heavily-bolstered sport front seats with ST and Recaro badging, plus power heated outside mirrors. The two-tone seats were trimmed in black with Molten Orange center inserts, and I vacillated all week between thinking they were really cool and thinking they were really garish.

The Fiesta ST furnishes outstanding power and performance, more than we have a right to expect from something with a $21,400 base price. But, the ST is also refined enough to keep its driver comfortable during highway travel, proven to me after four nonstop hours on I-5. Many taller-than-average driving enthusiasts won’t have to write off the ST; headroom is very generous.

For added driver gratification, a Sound Symposer pipes the sweet sounds of the engine’s high revs directly into the passenger cabin.

Fog lamps, a premium Sony audio system, HD and satellite radio, aluminum sport pedals and a host of airbags and curtains are standard. So is Sync with MyFord Touch with a 6.5-inch screen – an audio control system that makes operation more difficult than necessary. It didn’t bother me much, though, because everything else about the Fiesta ST is so terrific.

2014 FORD FIESTA ST

Base price, including destination charge: $22,195

Price as driven: $25,955

Mary Lowry is an independent automotive writer who has been reviewing cars for more than 20 years. She is a member of the Motor Press Guild and a board member of the Northwest Automotive Press Association. Vehicles are provided by the manufacturers as a one-week loan for review purposes only. In no way do the manufacturers control the content of the reviews.

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