What is it?
Impossible not to like the Ford Fiesta ST. Terrific handling, dainty styling, lively engine, cheap to buy and cheap to run - the Blue Oval nailed the supermini 'must-have' list like Marvel making an Avengers movie. The result arrived in 2013 – long enough to make it seem overdue – but also overtly good enough to immediately install itself as the spiritual successor to the rowdy perfectionism of the Peugeot 205 GTI and Renault Sport Clio 182.
Ford has sat on its laurels for three years, and doubtless used the model’s overwhelming popularity as an internal reason for not building an RS version. However, with the next Fiesta now incoming, it has finally opted to very gently remake its masterpiece as a faster prospect – equipping it with the 197bhp that earns it a new ST200 badge.
While the extra power seems modest, it comes with a slightly convoluted explanation. Technically speaking, the standard ST (still on sale beneath the special edition variant) already produces 197bhp – however, because it’s part of a temporary overboost function, Ford has never advertised it that way in the UK. Now, that figure is the steady-state, big-font number. Simple.
Except that the overboost remains, meaning that for 20 seconds of bulkhead-finding footwork you get 212bhp – the same 15bhp which stays in the grey and off the spec. To complicate matters further, it’s worth mentioned that Mountune, the Blue Oval’s chummy tuner, will already sell you a very simple kit to extract 212bhp from your ST (in fact, you can have one that produces 227bhp) – and it doesn’t set a time limit on the overboost. Ford knows this of course, and to help dissociate the ST200 from any sibling rivalry, it has deliberately equipped its flagship model with a shortened final drive ratio – an alteration unavailable to the tuner.