Can three-cylinder Fiesta ST keep the party going?
It's been around for almost four years, but the current Ford Fiesta ST remains one of our favourite hot hatches. With an effervescent little turbo four and playful chassis, you'd be hard pressed to find a more exciting package on a backroad, but its dated interior and styling were in desperate need of a refresh. The new ST aims to address those issues with a fresh look and more tech, while the existing four has been replaced with a turbocharged three-cylinder engine.
That's right, the turbocharged four-cylinder we loved so much is gone, replaced by a new three-cylinder EcoBoost turbo which displaces 100cc less. Power is up to 197 hp (147 kW) and peak torque is pegged at 290 Nm, enough for a 6.7-second 100 km/h (62 mph) sprint. As before it's mated to a six-speed manual gearbox, with no automatic option available.
This is the first time Ford has fitted a three-cylinder engine to a performance model, and the team in the Performance Division has pulled out all the stops to make sure it doesn't feel like a step backwards from the punchy powerplant in the old car. The new turbo has been designed to build boost faster than before, and the combination port and direct fuel injection system should also help with low-rev throttle response.
Cylinder deactivation also features on the new car, and an integrated exhaust manifold helps the engine reach optimal operating temperatures faster for greater efficiency. Then again if the outgoing car is anything to go by, it'll be impossible to drive at anything less than flat out, rendering most of those changes moot.
Whereas the outgoing car was notable for its lack of switchable drive modes, the new one cranks up the personalization to take on the nerd-fest that is the Renault Clio RS. Normal mode is fairly self explanatory, while switching into Sport sharpens up the steering, throttle and brings more noise. Moving to Track switches off the electronic driver aids and puts steering and throttle into their most aggressive settings.
Just like before, a clever torque vectoring system will brake the inside front wheel to cut understeer, and the stability control can be toggled through strict, relaxed and completely-off settings.
Ford's updates extend well beyond the chassis and engine, with a new look inside and out. The interior in the old Fiesta was a confusing mess of buttons, with tech like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto notably absent from the options list. The new cabin rectifies that with a tablet-style touchscreen on the dashboard, while the materials on the dashboard, seats and door trims all promise a greater feeling of quality than before. Outside, the formula is largely unchanged from the old car, with 18-inch wheels and a more aggressive bodykit setting the car apart from its more mundane brethren.
The new Fiesta ST will be available in two and four-door variants, with prices yet to be announced. It will debut at the Geneva Motor Show, where New Atlas will be on the ground covering all the action. In the meantime, check out Ford's (very cool) launch video for the ST below.