All the admirable qualities of the ST, but the competition has moved on

What is it?

The is the last instalment of the now venerable Ford Fiesta. This limited edition of the Fiesta ST gets an RS2000-style, U-shaped bonnet stripe and, perhaps slightly more appealingly, red brake calipers and 17-inch, black ‘kerb me’ alloys.

The Ford Focus ST170 had 170bhp and the Mondeo ST220 has 220bhp, but sadly the Ford Fiesta ST500 does not have 500bhp. In fact, it uses the same 148bhp (150PS) 2.0-litre unit as the standard ST, along with the same gearbox, transmission and chassis settings.

What’s it like?

Ford Fiesta ST in November 2004 and compared it unfavorably with the Mini Cooper Works or the Clio 182 Cup. Since then, the ST has gained some retro decals, but the driving impressions remain the same. In fact, our test car only had 750 miles on the clock after a 100-mile test, so the engine was probably unusually gruff.

In the meantime, however, the competition has got considerably stiffer. List price for list price, the Renault Clio Renaultsport 197 Cup costs the same as the ST500, though it lacks the air-con and upmarket entertainment system. The ST500's steering is a little tauter, but over the same 20-mile stretch of winding B-road the Clio is in a different league.

Similarly, for an extra £1000 you can get a Vauxhall Corsa VXR, not quite as thrilling as the Clio Cup, perhaps, but as quick and more practical.

Where does this leave the ST500? It has a more comfortable ride-handling compromise than its peers and it whispers practicality - decent boot and rear legroom - under its breath in the way that only a jet black, black-wheeled hot hatch can.

Should I buy one?

If you're after a useable, everyday hatch that looks the business and delivers in a calm, confident manner - the automotive equivalent of an American hot pizza with extra Jalapeno peppers - then it's worth a drive. If you want the real thing then look towards the Renault 197 Clio Cup or, if you've got a flexible budget, the Vauxhall Corsa VXR and Mini Cooper S.

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NiallOswald 28 June 2008

Re: Ford Fiesta ST500

I'm sure I pointed out the disappointing lack of 500bhp when this was first announced ;)