Twin test: Ford Focus ST-Line and Ford Fiesta ST-Line

Twin test: Ford Focus ST-Line and Ford Fiesta ST-Line
Twin test: Ford Focus ST-Line and Ford Fiesta ST-Line

Ford refreshed their trim levels at the tail end of 2016. That means that despite the current generation of Focus being mid-lifespan, and the Fiesta set to be replaced later this year, there’s something new for buyers looking to purchase the market leaders in their respective sectors.

If you think ST-Line sounds familiar, it’s because it is a naming convention that takes inspiration from upmarket Audi and Volkswagen, whose S-Line and R-Line trims seek to provide all the hallmarks of the sporty ‘S’ and ‘R’ models, without the guarantee of performance and a high insurance premium.

It’s another sign that Ford’s strategy to combat the encroachment of Hyundai and Kia into their traditional area of the marketplace is to position themselves further upmarket.

So what is ST-Line? Larger Ford models will top out in Vignale specification. The ultra-luxurious trim aimed at business users. Hot hatches such as the Fiesta and Focus ST or the Focus RS remain top of the desirability tree on the current B and C-segment platforms (Although a Vignale Fiesta will be one of the launch models of the outgoing car’s replacement, with a proper performance model yet to be announced*).

ST-Line cars share slightly toned down performance design cues with the ST model. Large alloy wheels, front splitter, side skirts and rear spoiler.

Inside, both cars come with sports pedals, sports gear knob and three-spoke leather trimmed steering wheel. Sports seats and stainless steel kick plates in the arches complete the interior look and the sports suspension drops the ride height of ST-Line cars against standard models.

Farewell Fiesta

In terms of equipment levels, handling and general driving experience, the ST-Line isn’t a bad swansong for the mk7 Fiesta. Unlike truly hot versions of the car, you can buy an ST-Line Fiesta as a five door, meaning you get the sporty body-kit and handling with the added practicality of two extra doors.The sporty touches do a good job of making a five-door B-segment car look some way desirable, very much coming off as a squashed Focus ST when caught from any angle except side on.

Fiesta ST-Line 1.5TDCi 5-Speed Manual
Price: £19,840 (as driven)
Performance: 95PS,215 NM Torque
Speed: 112mph, 0-60 in 10.9 seconds
Economy: 78.5 mpg combined
Emissions: 94 g/km co2

Our test car came with the only diesel engine in the line-up, the 1.5-litre TDCi, mated to a five-speed manual gearbox. It lacked start-stop which means emissions figures aren’t as favourable as the Focus, which shared the same power plant.

The diesel engine didn’t especially excite in this 95PS guise to be honest. A fairly pedestrian turn of pace failed to cash the cheques written by the sporty design. The car is available with Ford’s fantastic 1.0-litre Ecoboost petrol engine, which offers improved emissions and a jump in performance across all three tunings, but penalises drivers in terms of miles per gallon.

For my money, I’d have the 1.0 Ecoboost with 140PS, which is a terrific balance of performance and efficiency in the Fiesta. This engine also comes in 100 and 125PS tunings.

Fresh Focus

With fewer optional extras, our Focus test car actually felt more Spartan than the Fiesta ST-Line – despite a longer list of standard equipment. Rear windows were of the wind-up variety and despite day-time running lights, side and headlights were still manually operated.

It does come equipped with the latest Sync3 infotainment system, which won’t be available in the Fiesta until the new model is launched later this year.

Focus ST-Line 1.5TDCi 6-Speed Manual
Price: £22,395 (as driven)
Performance:120PS 270 NM Torque
Speed: 120mph 0-60 in 10.5 seconds
Economy: 74.3 mpg combined
Emissions: 99 g/km co2

It’s also infinitely more practical, being a larger car, and with less than two thousand pounds separating the optioned up Fiesta and the standard on the road price of the Focus I’d find it difficult to square choosing the smaller car as a cash buyer.

The sports suspension and torque vectoring control give the ST-Line Focus something of the Focus ST’s handling when driven adventurously but, as with the Fiesta, the 120PS tuning of the diesel engine feels simply adequate, rather than sporty. The six-speed gearbox does mean less time between peaks in power delivery however, so it feels slightly sprightlier than its little brother, a fact borne out by a nought to 62 time 0.4 seconds quicker.

Like the Fiesta, the Focus can be purchased with the 1.0-litre Ecoboost engine, in this case with a similar power output to the diesel variant tested. There’s also a four-cylinder 1.5-litre Ecoboost option which comes with either a 148bhp or, if you’re shopping pre-registered, 179bhp power output (ST-Line Red or ST-Line Black edition).

*Since this article was first published, Ford have announced the next generation Ford Fiesta ST

 

 

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