There seems little doubt at the moment that the Ford Fiesta ST is the one to pick if you’re looking for a small hot hatch, despite some very stiff competition from the likes of the Peugeot 208 GTI and Renaultsport Clio 200. Where the Ford really shines is in its low asking price, undercutting the competition by a margin that’s hard to ignore. So how does a new higher-specced and higher-priced model fare? What if it had more power too?
The ST3 is this new top-of-the-line trim level. Ford have taken an ST2 and thrown in almost all of the options list, namely keyless entry, full climate control, the Sony DAB sound and navigation system, cruise control, auto headlights and wipers, a self-dimming rear view mirror and powered mirrors. The asking price is £19,250, £1,000 more than the ST2 but representing a saving of over £250.
The new equipment is welcome but it does highlight the Fiesta’s main weakness, namely the dashboard layout. The sat-nav display is small and the Sony system has a myriad of buttons. The Fiesta lags behind the logical simplicity of something like a Polo.
On the other hand, the Fiesta offers superbly grippy Recaro seats as standard. It’s also easy to get comfortable, with a two-way adjustable wheel, a gear stick that falls to hand easily and pedals that are just right.
The higher price makes it slightly more expensive than the 208 GTI and Clio 200 Turbo (before options). The value-for-money argument becomes harder to justify but it’s still the pick of the bunch if driving thrills are what count. And if they’re not what count, why the hell are you looking at a car like this?
On the outside you won’t notice much difference. You get the same choice of colours, the same grey wheels and red brake calipers (if you pick the optional styling pack) and ST bodykit. It’s almost the same story underneath – the accurate steering and entertaining chassis remain untouched, guaranteeing plenty of grins on your favourite roads – but take a quick look at the boot lid and you’ll see a little yellow badge that hints at one of the other upgrades on this ST3.
Ford Approved Tuning
It’s the Mountune MP215 engine upgrade. For just £599 you get a headline Ford-approved power output of 215PS. The changes consist of an ECU remap accompanied by a new high-flow airbox, K&N filter and air hose to let the engine breath more freely. Torque is up too, from a useful 290Nm to a very handy 320Nm.
Now it’s worth pointing out that the headline power figure is based on the Fiesta’s time-limited overboost, whereas the standard model is always quoted as having 182PS, the output without the overboost. So according to Mountune’s own figures the MP215 upgrade adds roughly 15PS (not the 33PS that some publications have been claiming).
The 0-60mph time drops by 0.3 seconds but it’s the mid-range that gets the biggest boost – in 4th gear the ST will accelerate from 30-62mph in just 5.7 seconds, 0.7 quicker than before.
It’s that mid-range urge that makes the biggest difference on the road. You quickly find that you can leave the Fiesta in third or fourth gear and still travel quickly. You don’t need to drop a gear for tighter corners or opportunistic overtakes.
The changes to the airflow also introduce a subtle change in character to the engine sound. There’s a harder tone on full throttle, a slightly deeper growl, that makes it sound that bit more special. It’s not a drastic change but if you know your fast Fiestas you’ll appreciate the difference.
There is a little more torque steer than before but it’s not enough to ruin the experience. The ST’s chassis is a well-sorted piece of engineering and the extra power doesn’t diminish that.
After driving this new model my love for the Fiesta ST is stronger than ever. If you like your tech and creature comforts you’ll find a lot to like about this high-spec ST3. It’s got all of the kit you need and still represents good value, but I still see huge appeal in a basic ST for a little over £17k. You get the same amount of fun but for a couple of grand less.
However, there’s no question about the Mountune upgrade. It’s a no-brainer, a cheap way to get more power without sacrificing the Ford warranty. Whichever specification you choose, just make sure you ask your dealer about the Mountune MP215 upgrade.
Ford Fiesta ST3 Mountune MP215 Specs
|Performance & Economy||Ford Fiesta ST3||Mountune MP215|
|Engine||1,596cc 4-cylinder turbocharged petrol||1,596cc 4-cylinder turbocharged petrol|
|Transmission||6-speed manual, font-engined, front-wheel drive||6-speed manual, font-engined, front-wheel drive|
|Power (PS / bhp) without overboost||182 / 180||-- / --|
|Power (PS / bhp) with overboost||200 / 198||215 / 212|
|Torque (Nm / lb.ft)||290 / 213||320 / 235|
|0 - 62 mph (seconds)||6.9||6.6|
|Top Speed (mph)||139||---|
|CO2 Emissions (g/km)||138||138|
|Combined Economy (mpg)||47||47|
|Kerb Weight (kg)||1,163||1,163|