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Ford Fiesta ST

Its manual-only gearbox is approachable, its suspension is lively but not harsh, and it’s thrifty on gas—if you care about that. It’s powered by a 197-hp turbocharged 1.6-liter inline-four that feeds the front wheels through a six-speed transmission. While the Fiesta ST is extremely affordable entertainment, its cut-rate interior and cramped back seat carry over from the even cheaper and less exciting Fiesta. Still, this pint-sized performance hatchback is a back-to-basics option that rewards drivers of all skill levels.

What’s New for 2018?

Europeans get all the good stuff. It looks as if the all-new 2018 Ford Fiesta ST that launched overseas will not reach American showrooms—at least for now. Instead, the current generation of the feisty little hatchback carries over for 2018 without change (a backup camera becomes standard, so there’s that). Still, we’re thankful that Ford saw fit to keep selling the Fiesta ST for another model year rather than ending production.

What was New for 2017?

First introduced as a 2014 model, the Fiesta ST immediately earned our praise for its playful nature. Fortunately, Ford has refrained from fiddling with that formula. All that was new for 2017 was an exterior color, Orange Spice.

Trims and Options We’d Choose

The Fiesta ST starts at $22,160, which is lower than the starting price of rivals such as the Honda Civic Si coupe ($24,990), Volkswagen Golf GTI ($27,265), and Subaru WRX ($27,855). That makes the Ford one of the best performance bargains money can buy. Even outfitted with every option, the Fiesta ST tops out at only $27,280. For comparison, a fully loaded GTI or WRX costs around $40,000. Available accessories for the Fiesta ST include:

• Metallic Orange Spice or White Platinum paint colors ($595)
• Black 17-inch wheels and red brake calipers ($375)
• Heated Recaro seats ($1995)
• Power sunroof ($795)
• Navigation ($795)

We’d add the dark wheels because they look cool and the heavily bolstered Recaro buckets for their extra support (we suggest trying them out first, since they’re too restrictive for some). The rest of the options are unnecessary, especially since standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto replace the need for navigation. In total, our Fiesta ST costs $24,530. That price equals a high performance-per-dollar ratio and buys more smiles per minute than most.

Except for those moving to Europe this year, the 2018 Fiesta ST is not available with Ford’s new turbocharged 1.5-liter inline-three that debuted overseas. Our version has the same four-cylinder engine and six-speed manual gearbox as last year. At least we’re not being deprived of any major power upgrades, since the new three-cylinder has identical horsepower ratings and an extra 12 lb-ft of torque over the four-cylinder.