“What car should I buy?” It’s a question consumers ask themselves every day, but what would associate road test editor Erick Ayapana drive? Keep reading for the answer, and see other editors’ picks here.
I’d like to stay within $30,000 for the car I’d buy today, so I was super stoked when I logged on to www.ford.com and found that it can be had for under $20,000 (after incentives, of course). That car would be the 2019 Ford Fiesta ST.
It has probably been years since I’ve driven one, but it still tops my list of affordable new cars. Even without incentives, the 2019 Fiesta ST costs under $23,000. The 2019 Mazda Miata is within my reach for a few grand more, but I’d want the Club version, which starts at $31,110. And have you tried stuffing two carry-on bags in the trunk of a Miata? For a single-car household, the Miata unfortunately won’t work.
Not so with the Fiesta ST. It may be tiny, but it’s much more practical than the Mazda thanks to four doors, a hatch, and seating for five (though four might be more realistic). The Volkswagen GTI with its fantastic plaid seats is also practical, but it’s more expensive and doesn’t quite have the Fiesta’s razor-sharp agility.
Yes, it’s front-wheel drive, but driving the Fiesta ST is just as thrilling and fun as the Miata. The excellent Honda Civic Type R might be the better track car, but the Ford is arguably more enjoyable to toss around town. Its shifter isn’t quite as precise as the Porsche 911 GT3 or Type R, but it’s satisfying nonetheless.
As is the 1.6-liter turbo-four that makes 197 hp and 202 lb-ft of torque. It’s an eager little engine that’s more than adequate for the small hatch. When we last tested the Fiesta ST way back in 2013, we recorded a 0-60 mph time of 6.4 seconds. That said, it feels quicker than that number suggests and there are a few easy aftermarket tricks to squeeze out more performance from the punchy turbo-four.
And what about fuel economy? A gallon of gas is nearly $4 in Los Angeles county, so the Fiesta ST’s EPA rating of 25/32 mpg city/highway is certainly attractive. That’s right on par with GTI (24/32 mpg) and slightly less than the Miata’s 26/34 mpg rating (all numbers with the six-speed manual).
The Fiesta ST hasn’t changed much since its debut in the States. The exterior is still handsome (to these eyes) and though my non-car friends will likely say the interior is basic, at least it has been updated with Ford’s Sync 3 infotainment system, which has a decent interface and Apple CarPlay compatibility. We’ve reported that the next-gen Fiesta ST likely won’t make it here to the U.S., which makes my decision to own this little piece of hot hatch history even easier.
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