During the Fiesta’s fortieth birthday celebrations back in 2016, Ford shared with MotorMartin rather incredible fact that the number of Fiesta’s registered in the UK topped 4,115,000, compared to the Escort’s total sales figure of 4,105,961 over 32 years and that since its launch, the Fiesta has led the small car segment in the UK for 27 of the 37 years it had been in production. And let us not forget that the humble Fiesta has been Britain’s best-selling car since 2009 when it overtook the Ford Focus.
For many though, Ford have always been their first choice when it comes to hot hatches and with a lineage stretching back over the last 4 decades that really should be a surprise to anyone. And it’s not just with the larger cars in Ford’s history either as there’s always been a school of thought that suggests that something smaller is the way to go when designing a hot hatch. There’s the practicality of the car on our congested road as well as the old maxim that light weight is just as important as large horsepower, after all, a lighter car will accelerate, handle and should be more economical as well.
Bearing that in mind, Ford introduced us all to their legendary XR2 in 1984, a car that was a thoroughly updated version of the original, more humdrum Fiesta with a larger bodykit and peppy engine. Then in 1989, the XR2i joined the line-up with a 1.6-litre twin cam engine producing 104bhp and a 5-speed gearbox. 1990 saw the introduction of the Fiesta RS Turbo at Turin Motor Show, a car that used an updated XR2i engine with an intercooled Garrett turbocharger. The Fiesta RS Turbo was even 1.6 seconds quicker than the it’s sibling XR2i to 62mph. Perhaps the early Fiesta’s swan song was the RS 1800, a hot hatch that was introduced in 1992 and packing a punch with it’s 16-valve 1.8-litre engine, five-spoke alloys and spoiler.
All good things must come to an end and so it was with the ‘XR’ moniker being retired with the unveiling of the 2005 2.0-litre 148bhp Fiesta ST, launched as the first production offering of Ford Team RS and was the most powerful Fiesta ever at the time. Ford fans were salivating at the prospect of such a rebirth of their favourite small car.
Before long, 2008 in fact, the Ford Fiesta ST was a real force to be reckoned with. It’s seven-second 0–62mph capability and excellent handling made it popular with customers and reviewers alike, winning Top Gear’s Car of the Year in 2013 and What Car?’s Best Hot Hatch for three years in a row. Impressive.
With hot hatch fans demanding that Ford keep ahead of the curve, in 2016 the Fiesta ST200 launched with a specially-developed 1.6-litre EcoBoost engine that delivered 200hp making it the fastest-ever production Fiesta released into the wild so far.
Fast (Ford)ward to 2018 and the Fiesta ST has once again moved with the times and finds itself in the possession of a reduced capacity, now sporting a mere 1.5-litres, packing 197bhp and 290Nm of torque (with an overboost to deliver an extra 20Nm) but rather surprisingly, it’s now a three cylinder power plant that can run on just two cylinders to save fuel. At less than 50 per cent throttle and between 1,200 and 4,500rpm one cylinder is shut off, improving fuel consumption by six per cent.
Despite the downsizing, the latest Ford Fiesta ST200 will still reach 0-62mph in 6.5 seconds (0.4 seconds faster than the old ST) and top out at 144mph and all whilst achieving up to a claimed 47.1mpg.
So why the discussion you may be asking? Well, MotorMartin’s recently had immense fun over the course of a week with the 2018 Fiesta ST and will be reviewing this incredible hot hatch in the next few days. Keep checking back for the full review.
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