Ford Commits to Bringing Fiesta ST Stateside in 2014
Ford Motor Company has announced that the sporty ST version of its smallest car, the Fiesta, will be hitting American shores (presumably) next year as a 2014 model, and the reveal couldn’t have come at a better time. Fiesta sales have slowed, and are down 22.6% from this time last year, according to Ford’s latest figures. The slightly larger and more expensive Focus outsells the Fiesta at roughly a 4-1 rate, aided by the recent release of the VW GTI-beating Focus ST hot hatchback.
Visually, the Fiesta ST gets a new grille treatment to draw design ties with the new Ford Fusion, as well as 17-inch wheels and dual exhaust pipes. The sole body style will be the five-door hatchback. The front wheels will be powered by a 1.6L Ecoboost four-cylinder making 197hp and 214 lb-ft of torque, all married to a six-speed manual transmission. A pair of insanely deep bucket seats seat driver and passenger in the front, where they will enjoy the standard Microsoft SYNC system and Ford’s so-called “Sound Symposer,” which pumps engine noise throughout the cabin.
An ST version of a subcompact auto puts Ford in a unique position, as none of its rivals offer a souped-up version of their B-segment cars in America. In Europe, especially in densely populated urban areas with higher fuel costs and congestion taxes, small cars with sporty attributes make perfect sense; this is most likely why Ford chose to debut the Fiesta ST way back in 2008 for the last Fiesta model, which was not sold in the U.S. Subcompacts have always been a tough sell in the U.S., as most Americans prefer compact cars with slightly larger engines and more standard equipment offset by a marginally higher cost. Also hurting the case for subcompacts in the States is the lower price of gasoline compared to European countries and a larger portion of rural areas that are better traversed by a car with a higher top speed.
The timing of the ST announcement puts Ford in a good position, however. Even though sales are down since this time in 2011, the Fiesta is currently the second highest-selling subcompact year-to-date behind the recently renewed Hyundai Accent. The ST could bring those numbers up and possibly draw prospective buyers to Ford lots to check out the Fiesta line, but one thing that hasn’t been revealed yet is price. I would be surprised if Ford charged less than $21,000 for a base Fiesta ST, and that will be a hard sell for Ford. Although it would handily beat the aging Mini Cooper in a 0-60mph drag race for roughly the same amount of money, it may be difficult to match that car’s charm or sway buyers from grabbing a secondhand Cooper S or Honda Civic Si.