Although the current Fiesta ST was only introduced around a year ago, Iain Robertson believes that launching a special version of the compact hatchback may have beneficial effects on the rest of the Fiesta range in a very competitive sector.
Although Ford Motor Company does appear to have a rather quixotic lifestyle at present, flexing between courting popularity with its best models (which includes Fiesta) and flirting with disaster in senior management terms, it is most fortunate that it still employs a core team of ‘old believers’ in its remaining strength. The relevance of introducing limited edition variants, as long as that is what they are and that they do not veer perilously into the special edition segment, which results in the same old junk being peddled for ages without end, is that a core of ‘speculators’ will always grab what is available. It makes solid business sense.
Ford is an expert in that game. When the previous generation Ford Focus RS was declared as being ditched in preparation for a new strain, an RS500 edition entered the market. It was significantly improved over the stock version and, apart from one, or two examples being retained by Ford for its personal collection, each numbered variant disappeared virtually before they went on sale. They currently command zero-depreciation price tags, with a view to escalating values, as other RSs have done so, in the madness of collectable modern day ‘classics’.
Ford’s Performance Edition (FPE) of the irrepressible Fiesta ST is limited to only 600 examples, all of which are in three-door body style and finished in a similar Deep Orange paint that was last used for the Mark One Focus ST launch editions. Based on the best-selling ST-3 trim, the Fiesta ST FPE gains from a number of specially-designed and developed Ford Performance parts that include 18.0-inch diameter alloy wheels that shave seven kilograms of weight from the standard wheel set and a race-car style coil-over suspension pack, which features stainless steel damper housings and blue powder-coated Ford Performance springs, which reveal their ‘added value’, when negotiating roundabouts at full-tilt, because you will be hard-pushed to spot the difference otherwise.
In many respects, these additions are not dissimilar to the various RS (Rallye Sport) packages that Ford created for its earliest versions of the Escort model, back in the late-1960s. When the Mark Two Escort appeared, RS launched the X-parts range that appealed to the race/rally inspired segment of the new car scene. The Fiesta ST is the car that Ford insiders believe to be ‘the gift that keeps on giving’. Being fast, fun, relatively affordable, moderately practical and quite economical, the FPE version will help owners to stand out from the crowd. However, this ST is for customers who consider themselves to be either performance-oriented drivers, or tuning enthusiasts who demand maximum fun on the road combined with a sporty appearance. It is not quite the RS-type of customer of yore, which I suppose is an example of Ford dealing with an era. Unfortunately, as with many of the company’s ‘special variants’, it is likely to be snaffled-up by the RS Owners’ Club brigade, leaving no examples available for anyone else and ensuring simultaneously that, if you really want one, then you should gird your loins and be prepared for a financial tussle!
For what it is worth, the coil-over suspension pack lowers the ride height by 15mm at the front and 10mm at the rear and has been tested extensively at the Nürburgring Nordschleife Circuit by Ford’s performance arm engineers. It is a suspension package that can be adjusted manually, with 12 bump and 16 rebound settings for a personalised, finely-tuned driving setup. Unless owners possess an intrinsic knowledge of adjustable suspension, this could lead to around 600 breathed-on Fiestas with the worst ride/handling characteristics imaginable. Of course, tampering with pre-determined settings may also invalidate the manufacturer’s warranty, which is worth contemplation, let alone confirmation.
The 10-spoke, 18-inch flow-formed alloy wheels are lighter, stronger and more durable than a traditional cast wheel. Flow-forming, which is not to be confused with forging (where a solid billet is reamed down to a finished wheel), involves the application of pressure to the inner barrel of the wheel, while spinning and, after it has been cast, which stretches and compresses the aluminium, the process also increases the tensile strength. The alloys are finished with a winter-resistant, high-grade triple-layer ‘Magnetite’ paintwork.
The standard engine offering is a 197bhp version of Ford’s three-cylinder EcoBoost, turbo-petrol engine that displaces 1.5-litres. It is a punchy device and can clock the 0-60mph dash in a cool 6.2s, before running out of steam just shy of 135mph. Mountune, Ford’s long-time preferred engine tuner, can bump up the power by 20bhp for around £950. A mechanical limited-slip differential, which can tug unnervingly at the front wheels, helps to get the power to the road surface by equalising torque to the driveshafts. While such controls are questionable, it also features launch control and an ironic fuel-saving potential with automatic ‘stop:start’. The short-shift 6-speed manual gearbox is a delight to use.
Other standard equipment includes LED headlamps and a Bang & Olufsen premium audio system, as well as performance shift-light indicator (a red ST logo in the rev-counter dial). More than 5,000 Fiesta STs have been sold since May 2018 and the car has won several key awards from magazines keen to reap Ford’s elusive advertising budget. Final pricing for the Fiesta ST FPE will be announced soon, but this ultimate specification ST will carry a premium of at least £3,000 over the standard ST-3 list price, which could whisk its price tag to almost £26,000, which is a lot of money for a sub-compact hatchback model, especially if acquired for business use. It goes on sale from June 2019, with deliveries expected from early September.
Naturally, you need not bother trying to seek discounts for this enticing small Ford, as they just will not be available. It is also sure to be sold-out long before it goes on sale officially…although, in the current state of the new car market, you might be lucky enough to obtain one, if you are quick off the mark.