These are the latest spy pictures of the hot 180bhp Ford Fiesta ST. It will go on sale late next year to battle the Renaultsport Clio 200 and Seat Ibiza Cupra.
The hot Fiesta will give Ford a welcome road car spin-off from its S2000 rally car and WRC programme, which has switched from the Focus to the Fiesta this year.
The go-ahead will also come as a major relief for fans of fast Fords because the project has hung in the balance for several years while Ford has struggled to justify the investment.
At the heart of the new front-drive ST will be a 1.6-litre Ecoboost turbo engine, the same basic unit that powers the four-wheel-drive Fiesta WRC car.
The ST will use a 180bhp version of the Ecoboost, most likely mated to a six-speed manual transmission, although the ratios may be changed to produce a sportier drive.
There’s no word on performance yet, but the 197bhp Renaultsport Clio 200 achieves 0-62mph in 6.9sec and 141mph. In giving away nearly 20bhp, the Fiesta ST may struggle to match the Clio.
Prices are still to be decided, although there are indications that the ST may start from around £16,500, sufficient to undercut the stripped-out Clio Cup by £300 and the higher-spec Clio 200 by £1300.
The launch timing, at the end of 2012, will coincide with the Fiesta’s mid-life refresh, which will bring mild styling tweaks and readjusted specs and trim.