Ford, however, has juggled everything very well with the Focus ST, and there’s evident consistency in its approach with the Fiesta. There’s no unique paddle-shift transmission here, and no mechanical limited-slip differential, either. But there are departures from the Fiesta’s mechanical mix – pragmatic but purposeful ones – and lots of ’em.
Adding directness and response to the Fiesta’s steering was evidently more important than just inceasing lateral grip.
A quicker steering rack, geared at 13.7:1, works on the front wheels via shorter steering arms and a revised knuckle. It’s quick but consistent in its directness. Wheels are 7.5in-wide 17s as standard, with 205-section tyres.
The suspension features stiffer springs and uprated dampers all round and has been lowered by 15mm, which has been subsquently soften slightly for everyday use through the addition of the ST200. There’s a reinforced torsion beam at the rear. Disc brakes feature at all four corners and they’re powered by an enlarged hydraulic ‘tandem’ master cylinder with a diagonal split.
Power comes from a slightly undersquare 1596cc four-cylinder petrol engine, with an aluminium head and block, an iron crank, direct injection, independent variable valve timing and a fixed-geometry turbocharger.
Its headline outputs aren’t huge: 180bhp and 197bhp for the ST200 (with a caveat that we’ll come to) and 177lb ft and 213lb ft respectively. For an ST model, Ford would argue, they don’t need to be huge. Customers might feel differently. We’ll see if performance shows any shortfall.
The car’s look is quite pragmatic, too. Aside from the extended bumpers, side sills and enlarged roof spoiler, the most eye-catching addition is the honeycomb-mesh grille, which should be welcomed by anyone not keen on the standard Fiesta’s Aston-like chrome equivalent. At the rear, a diffuser panel and a twin tailpipe appear.