For some cars, ‘outstanding’ isn’t quite good enough on its own to earn five road test stars. It wasn’t quite good enough for the last Fiesta ST, which dominated its rivals but narrowly missed the completeness necessary to seal the deal. And it isn’t quite enough for the new one either.
Had we felt slightly differently about the car’s three-cylinder engine (punchy, smooth but not quite at home in a hot hatch), its chassis (supremely eager and engaging, not always composed) or its driving environment (tidy though ordinary), things might have been different. As it is, we have as many minor reservations about this car as we had about the last Fiesta ST – and they can’t be ignored.
And yet there isn’t another front-driven performance car in striking distance of this Ford’s £19k starting price that offers nearly as much driver appeal – and that mustn’t be ignored, either. Is this a better driver’s car than its predecessor? Not in every way that matters.
But it is brilliant all the same, and will continue to be the default answer to a question asked by readers of this magazine looking for cost-effective at-the-wheel thrills.