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By Nick Hodgson
Ford makes a mean hot hatch – a fact Ford knows well given the extensive range we get in South Africa. By my count we’re up to 4 now with the Focus RS, Focus ST, Fiesta ST and now this limited run Fiesta ST200. How limited? Well only 160 are coming to our shores so you’re unlikely to accidentally park next to one while doing your weekly shop. But at just R14,000 extra over the standard vehicle (for a total of R339 900) you could easily assume that the ST200 isn’t offering anything particularly special anyway.
So what do you get?
Well to kick off you get a kick up the behind in the shape of 147kW, 13kW up on the standard ST. A further 11kW over and above is made available thanks to a 20 second overboost function. This ST200 also comes exclusively in Storm Grey, a colour I’m really not a fan of as the car with this much zest should be bold and in your face rather than dull and understated. No matter though as it doesn’t end there with specially designed Recaro seats in the front and upgraded suspension including rear twistbeam at the back. Add on a few other standard features such as rear camera and PDC and you can hardly have any complaints re bang for buck.
Has it worked though?
Personally I’ve always felt the Fiesta ST has always been the weak one of the bunch. Drive the existing 3 cars back to back and you’ll find the Fiesta ST to have the most understeer and lose composure long before either of the Focus variants do. The changes mentioned above, in particular the suspension tweaks, have worked absolute wonders with this baby hot hatch. The ST200 feels constantly alive and ready to tackle twisty roads at incredible speeds.
The Recaro seats are an interesting conundrum in my books, on the one hand they hold you in place with a vice like grip, giving the driver confidence and comfort, however on the other they’re so big and bulky you need acres of space and the flexibility of a yoga instructor to get in and out gracefully.
Hot Hatches need to do it all though.
This is where I think the Fiesta ST200 may alienate a few people. From a pure driving point of view all the changes have worked wonders, however they have come at a price. Those suspension tweaks that I said delight in the corners also have the unfortunate consequence of make highway driving rather more uncomfortable than it needs to be. The car just seems to pick up bumps where you might imagine there were none.
The other big downside is those bulky seats again. As the ST200 only comes in two door variety the front seats make getting in and out the back seats a chore.
Swings and roundabouts
I loved driving the ST200. The improved handling characteristics and extra power made it a joy to drive, plus having a limited edition does always feel special. For many though I can imagine the standard ST will be the winner as the extra driving pleasure does mean a little less practicality. For the price though I think this is a bargain if you’re in the market for a small, hardcore hot hatch.