Engines on test: Ford Fiesta ST 1.5 three-cylinder turbo

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The problem when you create something so good in the automotive world is that one day – four, five perhaps even six years down the line – you’ll need to replace that good thing with something even better. It’s the engineering challenge that comes with setting the benchmark. And this was exactly the headache Ford engineers faced as the previous-generation Fiesta ST’s product cycle was ending and an all-new hot hatch was needed to fight off the competition.

As the new ST rolled into ETi Towers parking lot, the entire team couldn’t help but get excited at the prospect of sitting behind the wheel of Ford’s newest racer. Who doesn’t love the ST200 from the previous family? Would the third-gen ST even come close to this? And what if – a big if, granted – Ford has messed this up?

It takes all of 20 minutes, or so, and an open road for such concerns to vanish, because the new ST is a little firecracker that serves up total hot hatch realness. It might be more sophisticated than the previous ST – there’s an optional Quaife LSD to be had, and perhaps more grown-up too, but it hasn’t lost any of its underlining blistering character.

It might have lost a cylinder between generations, but the new ST’s 1.5-liter three-cylinder engine is core to everything that’s good about this hot hatch. Providing 200ps at 6,000rpm and 290Nm of torque from 1,600 to 4,000rpm means there’s plenty of performance to be had, but perhaps just as importantly, even more grinning from behind the wheel as the tires grip a tight corner and the exhaust pops and then pops again. This car makes you giggle like the teenage kid you once were.

A bit on the EcoBoost engine: it’s really, really good. Along with BMW’s 1.5 IC base, it’s possibly the best example yet of a performance three-cylinder development. Much of that comes down to the fact that Ford chucked a load of advanced technologies at the powertrain, including a new turbocharger that uses an optimized turbine design to build boost pressure faster and minimize lag for a more responsive driving experience; high-pressure fuel injection (a combination of port fuel and direct fuel injection); and twin-independent variable cam timing.

And you know earlier when we said the new ST lost a cylinder? Well in certain circumstances it has lost two, because the 1.5 engine features cylinder deactivation technology to make sure fuel efficiency isn’t sacrificed among all this hooting performance.

Mission accomplished by the clever Ford engineers then, because the new Fiesta ST is the must-have hot hatch in this class, just like the outgoing one was for so long.

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About Author

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Dean has been with UKi Media & Events for over a decade, having previously cut his journalistic teeth writing and editing for various automotive and engineering titles. He combines extensive knowledge of all things automotive with a passion for driving, and experience testing countless new vehicles, engines and technologies around the world. As well as his role as editor-in-chief across a range of UKi's media titles, he is also co-chair of the judging panel of the International Engine of the Year Awards.

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