When handed keys to a new 2014 Ford Fiesta ST, the first thing that came to mind was road trip. An hour in, this wired little pup wasn’t very happy on the freeway with cruise control on. It badly needed a windy back road to play on.
And what better back road, than the Mother Road?
A short drive north of Phoenix and we were on Route 66 between Kingman and Seligman. This stretch offers up some of the best kept pavement and small towns still in some form of living in the modern era.
It was fitting back-drop to play with Ford’s smallest hot hatch, slowing for the touristy shops and restaurants and pushing it hard on the open range. Rolling along in the most modern of Ford’s, the scenery and history you drive through makes the mind wander to a different time.
>When out into the open spaces impressions of speed you get here from the tar-stripped road are much more intense than on the freeway. We might be somewhere back in time, but if feels like were making it up well.
The Ford Fiesta ST stands apart from its other show room brothers with all the high-performance boy racer touches. Its five spoke 17” alloy wheels look larger than they are mounted with low profile rubber.
The more aggressive front fascia and side skirts draw it closer to the ground. Out back, the unique lower rear fascia looks well tapered and somewhat exotic and frames the fat dual exhaust tips tidy like.
An upper rear spoiler is really the finishing touch that presents the Fiesta ST as high performance, but isn’t over the top style wise.
The cabin isn’t that much different than the standard run of the mill Fiesta except for one thing. Ours had the optional Recaro sport seats. And at about $2000 they are an expensive proposition over the standard ST chairs.
Some in my office didn’t care for them. And if you are over about 200 lbs you may find them a bit too snug. They aren’t for everyone but I love them for their tight grabbing support, their firm feel and of course they look just awesome.
Dash and driver controls are well laid out and follow Ford’s European car design themes. The six-speed shifter is a friendly little device and doesn’t have many bad habits when the going gets fast. With the Recaro Seats, it takes some adjusting the tilt wheel and seat slide to get it just right.
The Fiesta ST comes standard with the top Sony audio system and MyFord Touch, something I wish they would let me option. With the additional Nav system, the sound is good but the interface leaves a lot to be desired.
Menus on the MyFord Touch can be frustrating and or simply distracting behind the wheel for some uses. They have added hard controls for common audio adjustments which is a good faith improvement however.
It is what’s under the hood that gives this pup its soul. The 1.6 liter turbocharged and inter-cooled four-cylinder engine has all the top-end goods from variable valve timing to direct fuel-injection.
All this gives it a healthy for its size 197 horsepower and 202 lb-ft of torque and it comes only with a six-speed manual transmission which is as it should be.
Torque steer really wasn’t that bad as the Fiesta ST doesn’t have a great deal of it. By the time the engine is cooking up the power you are moving well down the road fast enough that such things aren’t going on.
The chassis is a half-inch lower with stiffer springs, dampers and anti-roll bars. While the ride was stiff out here on the patched up Mother Road, it was never too rough even after a long day behind the wheel.
Its tight firmness however pays huge dividends in the fun department on the windy road. It darts in and out, side to side like a go kart for lack of a better comparison. Steering gives a nice feedback and brakes seem right on.
The best thing is that in the total package this is a car you can almost drive to its limits on a public road without breaking too many laws. Even on a track, this car can be pushed to its limits and past them and few bystanders would notice. This is not always a bad thing.
And practical is the back-story here. This all-day road trip was affordable at the pump. The Fiesta ST likes Premium Fuel but will accept Regular unleaded. With EPA ratings of 26 mpg city, 35 mpg highway and 29 combined, making the choice between the two is not that hard.
In all of this traveling the Mother Road and soaking in the whimsical humor of the Burma Shave signs, my tank average was 34 mpg combined. This was even with a bit of spirited running across the prarie and through mountains.
It may not be a Mustang GT with a 5.0 liter V8 but it’s no disappointment. It’s playful and puppy-liker personality make it fun to romp on and take out for a run. All this roughing up and frisbee tossing didn’t much get the attention of Johnny Law either. That is worth something.
In the end our 2014 Ford Fiesta ST with its $2000 Recaros and $800 navigation system came in for a grand total of $24,985 with destination. You can spend a lot more than that on a lot less fun for your daily commute or even a weekend on the Mother Road.