Highlight: This manual transmission subcompact is only available as a four door hatchback.

Test vehicle’s MSRP: $25,985 (Base Model Fiesta starts at $15,425)

Seating Capacity: 4

Standard Safety Features: airbags (driver, front passenger, driver knee, side impact and side curtain); a perimeter alarm system; a tire pressure monitoring system; electronic stability control; a full size spare tire; and a hill start assist system keeps the vehicle from rolling backwards

Standard Equipment: 17-inch Summer performance tires; dual chrome exhaust tips; fog lamps; a body carbon black lower grille; side marker European lamps; a rear wing spoiler; MyFord Touch SYNC infotainment system; a manually controlled a/c; cloth seats; aluminum sport pedals; a tilt/telescopic steering wheel; and a push-button keyless ignition starter

Suspension System: an enhanced European-inspired suspension system

Front: Independent MacPherson strut with coil springs and 19-mm stabilizer bar

Rear: Twist beam with coil springs and gas-charged shocks

Standard Audio: a Sony 100-watt, 8-speaker AM/FM/CD with a satellite audio system

Bumper-to-Bumper Warranty: 3 years or 36,000 miles

Powertrain Warranty: 5 years or 60,000 miles

Bluetooth Compatibility: Yes

Standard Engine/Horsepower: 1.6-liter, 4-cylinder/197-horsepower

Recommended Fuel: Regular

Standard Fuel Mileage: 26-city/35-hwy

Other Trim Levels:

Fiesta S, Fiesta SE and Fiesta Titanium

iPod and USB ports: available

What’s New: The Fiesta ST is Ford’s answer to a pint sized high performance vehicle.

Pros: The standard six-speed manual transmission in the Fiesta ST is powered by a front-wheel drive configuration. This fuel-efficient pocket rocket comes with very few options. Those options consisted of snug-fitting red and black Recarro sports seats, heated front seats, heated exterior mirrors, premium painted wheels, a navigation system and a power sunroof.

Unfortunately for us, our test vehicle lacked the optional power operated sunroof. Yet, our sporty subcompact was flanked by Ford’s new bright orange exterior color, a fan favorite. With this bright standout color, there was no way this vehicle would get lost in a crowd.

And while sitting a little lower to the ground than a typical Fiesta, the factory tricked-out ST is sure to be a fan favorite for those seeking a spirited subcompact. Added to the high-performance look and the 197 horses pumping from the chrome plated exhausted tips, the Fiesta ST steering provides a more direct response than the typical Fiesta.

In fact, the European-inspired suspension gives the ST a quicker overall steering ratio of 13.6:1 coupled with improved stability through fast corners.

Cons: If you can’t drive a manual transmission, you’ll have to pass up on the Fiesta ST. For now, an automatic transmission is not available with the ST trim. Also with this being a subcompact, there is literally no room for rear occupants, when the front seats are occupied by folks with long legs. There is literally no cargo room either, since this is a subcompact. And, with the sporty Recarro seats, some occupants may notice a lack of comfort with both the leg and hip room due to the narrow seat design.

Moreover, while this vehicle targets teens and young drivers, this racy ST is not designed for unexperienced drivers. This miniature hot rod has a lot of get up and go and then some. Young inexperienced drivers are better suited for the non ST trims. Furthermore, the ST was not equipped with a review camera. Like most of today’s vehicles, this should at least be an optional feature for this vehicle.

Lastly, the tuner crowd, who loves to trick out their rides, will shy away from this subcompact hot rod simply because there aren’t too many modifications that can be done to the vehicle.

The Verdict: While such items as an electronic blind spot system, a parallel parking system, a lane keep assist system, a forward collision braking system and a radar-activated cruise control are on the shopping list of most folks today, this is one Ford that has literally avoided those automated driving features.

In fact, for those seeking a spirited subcompact, which still requires the driver to manually shift through all of the gears, the Fiesta ST will fit the bill, with its European-inspired driving characteristics. While the Fiesta ST may seem cute and cuddly, parents we don’t recommend this vehicle for inexperienced young drivers. The power oozing from underneath the hood of the ST is quite deceiving. Unlike its nearest subcompact competitor, the Chevy Sonic RS, the Fiesta ST offers 59 more horses. In our opinion, a base model Fiesta is more suited for inexperienced first time buyers.

Yes, we must say we were pleasing impressed with this fun-to-drive pocket rocket. Besides the Porsche Cayman we reviewed earlier this year, it’s been a while since we’ve had so much fun behind the wheels.

Pricing for the Fiesta ST, without options, starts at $22,225 and can top out near $27,000, when fully optioned. At $27,000, this could be a little too pricey for most, sending folks over to the larger base model VW GTI Wolfsburg edition, which is also outfitted with a manual transmission. Did we mention that the VW pushes out 200 horses?

Moreover, the Fiesta’s big sister (or big brother), the Focus ST, which pushes out 250 horses, starts out at $24,940. So, we recommend that buyers of the Fiesta ST hold off on adding too many options, since the pricing could literally bump-up against the larger hatchbacks we noted.

Competition: Chevrolet Sonic RS


 

Jeff Fortson is an auto analyst and editor of a car-buying website for women and minorities. To learn more about his popular car-buying workshop and/or to price a new-vehicle, drive on over to JeffCars.com. Follow him @ Twitter/JeffCars.

 

 

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