(Pocket-lint) - When Ford announced that it would not be making a Fiesta RS, drivers the world over sighed. But that soon changed to cheers when the Fiesta ST200 was revealed as an overboost-toting powerhouse.
Despite a four-cylinder 1.6-litre engine sounding meagre, the ST200 pushes out a respectable 197bhp. Plus the overboost, which delivers even more juice for a 20-second burst at 212bhp, kicks in when flooring the car in the middling gears. Fun times.
Does the Fiesta ST200 offer enough power and handling to be considered a worthy sportster? Is it at the sacrifice of comfort and in-car tech? And, as £22,745, is it priced well enough to be affordable to those that want it? We took the ST200 onto the wet British roads to find out.
Ford Fiesta ST200 preview: Build and design
The ST200 has been compared to a Ford factory equivalent of the Mountune performance kit, as seen on the Fiesta ST. So it looks sporty, despite its new grey suit.
However, at first glance you could be forgiven for mistaking the ST200 for any other Fiesta. But look a little longer and you'll start to notice that front spoiler magnifying the aggressive grille and those large 17-inch matte black alloys with red brake calipers. The ST200 is a Fiesta to be taken more seriously.
That said, it is the right size and shape to blend in and do the job of a day-to-day car too. It should be easy to spot after leaving it in the Tesco car park as that Storm Grey paint job is the only colour it comes in.
Inside the sporty feel continues with deep Recaro bucket seats, red ST stitching and a red labeled gear stick. If all that didn't make it clear enough then a big red ST is also bunged on the central console and steering wheel for good measure.
The car feels sporty enough to offer the controls and comforts you want at speed, with enough room for a would be boy-racer to hang onto this even after he's become a man with a family. Alright, maybe that's a stretch for a three door hot hatch.
Ford Fiesta ST200: Performance and handling
This ST200 can get you to 62mph in just 6.7-seconds. That's seriously fast when considering the car's size and engine. You can just imagine this surprising a few people at the lights as it dashes away. A new lower gearing ratio really is a great upgrade that makes every pull-away feel extra dramatic.
The action really kicks in around the 4,000rpm mark, where there's not only more pull but an orchestra of engine noise swells to enhance the fun. On the wet roads we had a bit of wheel spin but it still pulled plenty fast. Overboost kicks in outside of these lower gears, yielding more from the turbo, making light work of speedy overtakes.
Handling is also respectably tight. Feedback through the wheel is confidence-inspiring and as Ford has stiffened the rear torsion beam compared to previous Fiestas it makes for a controlled experience. Now you might think this also means a harder ride, but the combination of soft springs and dampers means it's comfy enough on bumps too, really making it a great all-rounder.
Those red caliper brakes aren't just for show either. You can stop in a hurry or deliver a controlled dab as needed. This really does offer a taste of rally driving for the road. Above all else it's a lot of fun – exactly what you'd expect from a car of this class. It gives even the most modest driver a feeling of confidence that allows limits to be pushed for genuine excitement.
Ford Fiesta ST200: Infotainment and smart tech
As you'd expect on a new Ford you get Ford Sync built-in. That means a very capable voice recognition system that will let you make and receive calls, play and control music, and more, using a steering wheel button and your voice alone.
As you can see from our pictures the included screen is small and there are a whole lot of buttons that look positively old school in design. Don't expect this thing to blow you away but with nice extras like rear parking cameras it's capable enough.
Ignoring the majority of buttons, the classic Ford four-button menu system makes it easy to jump between navigation, audio, sound and menu controls without getting lost. Crucially it also means ease of access even when taking advantage of that stiff steering, which demands keen attention.
The Ford Fiesta ST200 is a seriously fun car. While it's primarily designed as a little powerhouse of performance and handling, it can be functional too.
Alright, most people aren't going to spend that £22,745 for day-to-day shop runs, but it's nice to know that a claimed 46.3mpg economy and interior comforts are part and parcel of the purchase.
That engine might be fairly small, but the noise from it is great and the added pep from overboost is ideal for speedy overtakes. It's not a sound you're likely to get bored of hearing.
Fast, capable, spacious, comfortable and not over-priced for all it offers: Ford is onto a winner with the Fiesta ST200.