Ford Fiesta ST: King of the hot hatches?The Fiesta ST is an excellent little car, but is it the best hot hatch around? Carfection asks if Renault or Mini can provide an exciting alternative.
[MUSIC] The Ford Fiesta ST is pretty much the king of the Hot Hatch Hill, since it [UNKNOWN] the company years ago, it's found well, global favor with pretty much everyone who's come across it. Be it due to its looks, its low price, or its buzzy little 1.6-liter turbocharged 180 horsepower engine. Here's why it's so great. [MUSIC] North of 62, 27 seconds. It's top speed is 139 mile an hour. Compared to some of it's rivals, that's not much but it's not the power that masses in this particular car. It's how the Ford delivers Really simple, really nice, really linear power delivery. And between that little noise is revving and it's shouting so when you are tugging it a long the road [MUSIC] [INAUDIBLE] You get the impression that you're piling on some serious speed if you keep it in the right gear, even if you're not. Bring on a road such as the one we're on today. You can bring it, and it'll beg you just to give it a little bit more. It's a really exciting little car, [UNKNOWN]. You can push it. This thing's got a [UNKNOWN] system in it that shuffles the power around, to make sure you don't fall off the road or understeer into oblivion. But if you're not a talented driver, you can still get a lot out of it, and if you are, then man, you can really spank these things around. The brakes are wonderful, and the gearbox, six speed manual Manual is lovely, it's so nice, and the shift itself, the little notches are nice and short, so you feel like you're doing something. Now, a lot of the problem I have with [UNKNOWN] is, they're too easy to drive. With this, there is one mode. You are the sport button, so if you want to drive it sensibly, you can't. Whereas if you wanna drive it like a complete lunatic you don't have to press a button enable many things to happen. You just sling it into the right gear make sure you've got a good bit of road and put your foot down like this, woah! No not like that, that's a sheep, [BLEEP] hell. [LAUGH] That was close. [MUSIC] I love the fact that there's no buttons to press to change it, or tweak it ever so slightly. Nico mode is You're in control of this. And that's something that's been sorely missing. This is old school [UNKNOWN] right here. Safe for the [UNKNOWN] engine. It's practical as well. This is the perfect package. But the best thing about it, the ver best thing about it is It's a little like the 17 gram to get the base fiesta st. And that's not much money when it comes to hot hatch land. [MUSIC] It's a buzzing happy little thing. It's a ten pence car. You can exploit it to your heart's content and it was left to the experts, or like me, the idiot [UNKNOWN] key novice. [MUSIC] Yes, yes, we all know how great the Fiesta ST is. I think there is a couple of alternatives that Alex needs to consider before he completely crowns it the kind of hot hatchets. So first up, here is the Rental Cleo Rental Sport 220 Trophy. [MUSIC] A wild Drew Stern has appeared with the Reno Cleo. Morning. You;ve brought a Cleo. I have, yes Cuz it's all well and good to say that everyone loves the Fiesta ST, and they do, it's a great car. I have here something that is faster to 60, has more power, and a higher top speed, it should be better. Faster tends to be better, yes. Yes, and before you crown this the unlimited king of all [UNKNOWN], you surely need to try out something that, on paper, should have this beat. Yes, okay, so talk me through it. 220 horsepower? 220 horsepower, top speed of about 146 miles an hour, and 6.6 0 to 60 [UNKNOWN] time. That is all around faster than my little Ford, you are right. Yes, so before you crown this, take the keycard thing, futuristic doodad. Take this for a spin, And I think you might enjoy it more than that. Okay, Okay, I'll take your word for it, we'll have a go. [MUSIC] [car accelerating] [music] So, Mr. Stern has presented me with a Renault Clio. Is it better than my Fiesta? Well it has the potential to be because Renault Sport are basically the kings of making hot hatches. The Megan 275 is fantastic! I love that thing. so much, especially in the yellow we had it, but is this one any good? I know the Clio over the years has received a bit of stick for having a flappy paddled gear box, it not being quite as good because they switched from a natural aspirated engine to a 1.6 turbo, but that's what the Fiesta has, so really The difference here is the gear box. And the price, of course. This is much more expensive than the Fiesta. 220 horsepower, over 200 pound foot. This should be fun. And I'll tell you what, there are some really good bits to it. It grips like nothing else. You can wing it into a corner and it's race mode. It loses the track control it gives you a lot more feel with the car and you get fantastic feedback through the steering. It really does feel alive when you're just threading it through. You can tell this is a car developed by people who want to get cars around tracks Down roads really quickly. And then there's the gear box. My lovely little Fiesta has a manual 6-speed really slick change. Really like it. This is an automatic. And it's not very good. [UNKNOWN] of the 220 have made a lot of changes to it because lots of people didn't like the auto box [SOUND] On the 200. So the paddle travel was said to be too long. So they've cut that by a third, and they've made shift times a bit quicker. But it just doesn't feel very good. The paddle, there's no real. There's no feedback to them. It's like squeezing a stress ball or something like that. There's no affirmative action to it to say yes you have done your task. And I hate to say that because Renault Sports, this should be the car that masters absolutely everything. But as an experience I'm having no more fun than I would in a Ford. I'm struggling to fall in love with it. Sterning's going to have to up his game if he thinks he's going to beat my Fiesta with anything. Okay, so the Cleo may not have swayed Alex but I've still got one more car to play. And it's a deusy. This is the new Mini JCW. [SOUND] [MUSIC] It looks brilliant because it's the Mini. And they've focused on the interior far more than the good people at Ford have. Where the Fiesta ST is quite drab, this is adorned with lifelike toggle switches and that big heads up round display. And on top of all of that, I know that Alex likes the Minis because Used to own one. Let's see what he thinks of this. I hope this is Drew with something a little more convincing. And it is Drew with something a little more convincing. Mr. Stern? Yes? You've brought me a Mini. I have. I gather you didn't like this so much, though. Not a huge fan. Okay, was a bit of a hail Mary, but I have an ace in the hole. [MUSIC] You have a MINI. A MINI JCW. I like those, and I like that particular MINI a lot. Although the Clear on paper may have been better than the Fiesta but didn't beat it, on paper this one looks even better. 2.0 liter turbo charged engine, 228 [UNKNOWN] horsepower. 0 to 62 time is 6.1 seconds if you have the automatic, which this is, and it has a top speed of 152 miles an hour. So it's faster in every respect, so [UNKNOWN] but before I take that, you are going to take The hybrid [UNKNOWN] All right, let's trade. Trade. I'm not very good at catching. There you are. [MUSIC] Mister Stern has excelled himself with the Mini. I have a weakness for these things, as he has said, I used to own one I had the first generation of the new mini. Had the Cooper S and the super charge on it and absolutely loved it. I owned it for eight years. The new JCW is a car we shot before, we filmed it and I absolutely loved it. It was brilliant and it remains brilliant. It makes the road noises, It's comfortable, it's quick, and this is the quickest of all the cars we've got here, it'll do more than 150 miles an hour. That's a lot of speed for a car this size in this class, that's maddeningly fast. And the only other car that does something similar to that in this class is the Audi S1. The interior is so nice. The materials in here are lovely, the details, the design of it. However, we're not here to talk about interiors, we're here to talk really about the drive and it sounds great. This feels like a proper car. It's so quick because the wheels are at each corner. It's properly planted. So you can really give it So the steering seems like its fantastic. It's not quite as sharp as the [UNKNOWN] but it is still pretty damn good. Now the gear box this is an automatic much like the [UNKNOWN]. Only the automatic in this is actually quite good. [UNKNOWN] really good. The paddle feel is great. It's nice and short, but it's very clicky. Once you've done it, you're gone. It's a wonderful, wonderful bit of kit, this. It really is. But is it better than the Siesta, that's the question. Tell you what, it's damn close. But the only thing that [UNKNOWN] The price. It's well north of 20 grand. More than 22,000 pounds and that's before you start putting toys on it. So this starts to become less of a fun little thing to have on weekends and sling the kids in the back of, and more Quick serious proposition whereas with the Fiesta, the ST3 the high light S1 it's 19 in a bit. And this starts at 22. That's a big difference. It does lack the engagement this particular car of the Fiesta Because the Fiesta has the all important stick shift, and that in a car like this does make a big difference. Yes there's also a gear box which is really good but I'd love to try it with a manual. The manual of course is slightly slower. 6.3 seconds instead [INAUDIBLE] rather than 6.1, but as I'm thinking more and more with the Fiesta It's not the numbers that matter. It's the feeling you get from it. And I think, if I'm really honest with myself, I'm having more fun on these roads with the Fiesta. Even though it's got less power, Then I am in deed. It's like a very, very close second, like that far away. So I must go back to Mr. Stern and see what he thought of the Ford. [MUSIC] Alex still prefers the Siesta SE despite the fact it has the slowest 0 to 60 time and the lowest top speed Right, let's see what this thing's got. [MUSIC] You know what? I think you might be on to something. [LAUGH] Whoo hoo. Who cares about what it's like on paper? This thing is awesome. The short stroke gear shift is brilliant and the pedals are exactly right. Just a little bit of steel toe. It's smooth on the down shift if you know what you're doing, and if you don't you've got a great car to learn in. Who cares about the best 0 to 60 time. When you're having this much fun. [LAUGH]. [MUSIC] What are you doing in the mini? It's fantastic. It is, isn't it? It's a brilliant little car. It is, but, my God, my God, that's amazing. You know how in the beginning, I said it's the king of the heart hatch? You know how I am brilliant Almost all the time. No. Well, I am, because I'm right. No, you are right. After driving these two cars, which are great cars, but it's just having an automatic gearbox completely takes away the whole idea of what a [UNKNOWN] should be. I would say yes and no. I think the auto in that one is fantastic. The gearbox in that it. Not so much. Not so much the padels are too fake and too far away. You have to crawl your way around the wheel to change gear and you can only have race mode if you're in manual mode and it's It's just, a bit of a fluff and a bit of a pain in the bum. That one's more intuitive. The interior is a lot better then most of those combined. I'll give you that and interiors are really important to me and the mini is the only one where they really really care to actually create something. Also the most expensive. By a long margin. Yeah. See, I would be so convinced by that. But with the money I saved from not buying the Mini and buying the Fiesta, I can buy an old generation Cleo 182 and have a better Cleo as well as an awesome Fiesta. Faster. That's not a bad call. Yeah. That's not a bad call. I think I would too go for the Ford Fiesta. It's just you and your fingers and your feet. And that's all that's controlling how fast that car goes. No restrictions, no modes, it's not very soft. It's not amazingly comfortable, but out here in these roads I just felt so alive. In terms of attractiveness the [UNKNOWN] ST probably doesn't win unfortunately. I'm not a big fan of Minis but the interior on that looks so good, and it's that classic Mini look that everyone's come to love. And the trophy is, I know to me it looks predented, I don't like the way it's curved, but it's not an unattractive car, it's sculpted. You're right, looks like the Fiesta's not gonna win, but the Fiesta edges out on price, at least price and then fun in the [UNKNOWN] box Fantastic, I just think the Fiesta's got everything in perfect balance, it's just right, it- Balance, that's the right word. It's the combination of those things. And that is a car where it can take you from a decent driver and you can learn how to really throw a car about in something that isn't Isn't it so powerful that you're gonna spin yourself out off on the corner. If you can learn how to heal and tone that car for me the pedals were perfect distance apart to do that. And on these roads if you get it wrong, it's fine it's not gonna kill you. It's the difference between being powerful and feeling powerful and the Fiesta just nails that, absolutely nails it. Proves that the statistics mean absolutely nothing. It's the slowest at 60. It's the slowest top speed and has the least amount of power. But I've got the biggest smile on my face every time I got in it. Yes. And I'm the person still holding the keys for it, so I'm going to drive it home. >Oh no, I'll have to go in my lovely mini. what do we do about the reno though? Just leave it here. [MUSIC]