Video settings

Please Log in to update your video settings

Video will begin in 5 seconds.

Video settings

Please Log in to update your video settings

Ford Fiesta ST video review

Sam Hall samples the car which stands to redefine the meaning of a performance vehicle.

PT4M22S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-2st2h 620 349

Nick has two cars, a Holden Captiva for family duties and an old Holden Astra for his daily commute. He’s looking to replace the Astra with something fun to drive that isn’t too thirsty or expensive to run, can seat four at a pinch and is versatile enough to deal with carrying his road bike. He’s weighing up between the Subaru BRZ/Toyota 86 twins or something used and more prestigious, possibly an Audi (TT or A1) or Lexus (CT200h or IS250).

The budget

About $35,000, though if he could spend less that wouldn’t be bad

2013 Ford Fiesta ST Click for more photos

Ford Fiesta ST first drive review

2013 Ford Fiesta ST

The shortlist

All of Nick’s shortlisters comfortably fulfill his requirement of being ‘nicer’ than his Astra. 

However, the CT200h isn’t the first car that comes to mind when we think of fun. The IS250, too, while more enjoyable to drive than its smaller brother, can be thirsty in city driving and its lack of split-fold back seats also puts it on the back foot for bike-carting.

We’d also think twice about the Audis, not because they aren’t up to the job (they are) but due to being a little pricey on the upkeep front.

The BRZ/86 twins? They wouldn’t be our first choice for carting a bike around, but they’re also so good at satisfying his other requirements we’d recommend he just drive, enjoy and use the Captiva to cart his bike around.

Or, if putting his bike to the mercy of the elements simply isn’t on, he could think seriously about these two alternatives.

Ford Fiesta ST, from $25,990

Fun, practical, affordable – these words could be used to describe any number of hot hatches.

And this little Ford, too, which amply satisfies Nick’s need for fun with its invigorating 147kW turbo engine, pin-sharp handling and sporty visuals. It’s also economical, usefully practical, easy to own (it’s covered by Ford’s seven-year/105,000km capped-price servicing plan) and comes in comfortably under his $35k budget.

But the ST can’t be had with toys like sat nav or a reversing camera, even as an option, and the ride can be a touch firm at times. You must also live with its mandatory three-door body and consequent access niggles.

Read Drive’s Ford Fiesta ST reviews:

Ford Fiesta ST first drive review

Hyundai Veloster SR Turbo, from $31,990

This Hyundai has the wood on the Fiesta for power (it cranks out 150kW), equipment (sat nav, reversing camera, panoramic roof and other niceties are all standard) and has the longer warranty (five years/unlimited km versus three years/100,000km with the Ford).

The unique asymmetrical body, which combines dramatic coupe-like looks with decent back-seat access via its single rear door, is another potential benefit for Nick.

The Hyundai, though, costs a fair chunk more than the Ford and doesn’t have the same level of drivetrain flair or on-road finesse. It’s harder to see out of, is not that comfortable in the back and its three-year/45,000km capped-price servicing regime is the least comprehensive here.

Read Drive’s Hyundai Veloster reviews:

Hyundai Veloster SR Turbo road test

Subaru BRZ/Toyota 86, from $37,150/$29,990

The Fiesta and Veloster are both sporty to various degrees but neither stacks up to this smile-raising Japanese duo when it comes to on-road agility and poise.

Both are also capable of decent fuel economy and – thanks to three years/60,000km capped-price servicing with the Toyota and free servicing for the first three years/60,000km with the Subaru – they should be as easy to own as a mundane hatchback.

Nick, though, will need to stretch to a topline 86 (the $35,990 GTS) or BRZ (it costs $37,150 driveaway) if he wants more than just the equipment basics. He shouldn’t expect the punchiest performance, a particularly pretty exterior or cabin and his bike is likely to cop a bashing from the parcel shelf, if it can be squeezed into the pancake-shallow boot at all.

Read Drive’s Toyota 86 reviews:

Toyota 86 road test
Toyota 86 vs Subaru BRZ head to head

Drive recommends

For blowing out the cobwebs on a deserted road, the 86 and BRZ take some beating. But they also have some functional and price limitations that stop them short of being totally in tune with Nick’s requirements.

That leaves the Ford and Hyundai fighting it out and – rationally, at least – the latter’s extra poke, extra kit, superior back-seat access and longer warranty give it the edge.

For all that, though, it’s the Fiesta that stands as the more exciting and more desirable. Given it’s still respectably practical, well equipped, easy to own and cheaper than its Korean rival, it would be our first choice.