Used car buying guide: Ford Fiesta ST

Ford Fiesta ST

ST-2 style pack: it included grey alloy wheels, red brake calipers and illuminated kickplates

The previous Fiesta ST, the Mk7, was the best warm hatch you could buy new. Today, it’s up to £10k cheaper and still a hoot to drive. We have the top tips for buyers

A bargain when new and a steal when used, a good Ford Fiesta ST Mk7 is downright irresistible.

Take the one we found below. This four-year-old ST-1 is being advertised by a private seller. Registered in 2014 and with 38,500 miles on the clock, it’s up for a £7900. New in 2014, it cost £16,995 before discount. The result: a 54% saving for 100% fun.

Unusually for a used ST, it’s totally standard, when so many have been tuned and tweaked. On that subject, ‘Worth knowing’ (see below) sounds a warning about previously modified examples that have since been returned to standard spec.

True, it would be better if it were the more popular ST-2 version (it cost £17,995) with half-leather Recaros, rear privacy glass, keyless ignition and digital radio. Today, these fetch around £500 more than the ST-1.

Find a used Ford Fiesta ST on PistonHeads

Of course, the reason we’re talking about the Mk7 ST now is that the all-new, Mk8 model is on sale. It’s powered by a 1.5-litre three-cylinder turbocharged engine producing 194bhp, whereas its predecessor had a 1.6-litre turbo four-pot making 178bhp (or 194bhp in ST200 form), mated to a slick-shifting six-speed manual gearbox. Despite the harshest interrogation, tuners were full of praise for this old 1.6-litre engine.

Frankly, it was like asking them to pick holes in David Attenborough.

They all agreed, however, that over time, the high-pressure fuel pump cam bucket starts to wear. Other things to look for are detailed in the ‘Buyer beware’ section below, but for a car largely driven by youngsters, some of them with only half an eye on its regular maintenance, it’s not a bad record.

Tuners have their fingers crossed that the Mk8 is as reliable; as strong, too, since they claim that without internal strengthening, a healthy ST 1.6 engine will stand up to around 300bhp. In fact, Hendy Performance’s demo is putting out 345bhp without internal work, and on the standard clutch too.

Back to trim levels and a year after the ST-1 and ST-2 versions went on sale in 2013, the ST-3 arrived. This plugged the remaining gaps in the equipment list with keyless entry, sat-nav, cruise control, auto lights and wipers, and climate control. It cost only £1000 more than the ST-2 so was something of a bargain but, today, that premium has long since been eroded by time and mileage.

In 2015, the rear suspension was softened and a slightly thicker anti-roll bar fitted. A year later, the ST200 arrived. Producing 194bhp, this Mountune-equipped car (it uses Mountune’s MP215 performance pack enhanced by a shorter final drive ratio exclusive to the model) was a big deal in the ST’s life, certainly much bigger than the arrival of a five-door version of the ST later the same year. New, it cost £22,745 and, today, used prices start at £14,000.

But why pay that? As we hope we’ve demonstrated, around half that price buys almost as much fun.

How to get one in your garage: 

An expert’s view, George Duxbury, Fiesta ST-3 owner: “I bought my first Fiesta five years ago when I was 17. It was a 1.2 but it was a start. I then traded it for a new 1.0 Zetec S Black Edition, which was great fun.

Three years after that, I upgraded to a new Fiesta ST-3. Never mind that it was a blast to drive, it was just spectacular value for money. That was 15 months ago. Since then, I’ve had a Peron Stage 2 Pro tune package fitted plus an ITG intake system, full exhaust system and uprated intercooler, all by AET Motorsport. It now has around 250bhp.”

Buyer beware…

ENGINE – Listen for a rattle from the cam bucket that can fail due to fuel pump pressure. The engine will run badly as it wears. Check if a technical bulletin about a failed coolant sensor was attended to. The system can run dry without flagging a warning and destroy the engine. 

OIL AND MAINTENANCE – Check the records to confirm good-quality fully synthetic oil has been used. Service intervals are every 12,500 miles or 12 months and timing belt changes every 125k miles or 10 years.

RECALLS – Check if a 2018 recall for a cracked head caused by localised overheating of a cylinder has been carried out. If left, the crack could cause a fire. It applies only to cars produced up to December 2014.

GEARBOX – Listen for worn synchro rings occasionally caused by previous owners swapping the dual-mass flywheel for a lighter single-mass one. The reduction in vibration and shock absorbency damages the gearbox.

SUSPENSION AND BRAKES – Listen for clonks, groans and squeaks caused by speed hump abuse. Any steering vagueness is likely to be worn front track rods. Check for excessive ‘lipping’ of discs and for worn pads. Both are cheap to replace. Inspect the inner shoulders of the front tyres for misalignment wear.

BODY – Check for signs of crash damage and repair, for loose door seals, that the windscreen washers work and that the fuel filler flap isn’t jammed.

Also worth knowing: It’s not unusual to come across an ST formerly financed on a PCP that was tuned and then hastily returned to standard order. Signs are disturbed catalytic converter bolts, screw marks on induction system clips and sagging bumpers that haven’t been refitted correctly after mechanical modifications.

How much to spend:

£7500-£8995 – Early 2013/14 ST-1s and 2s, plus some ST-3s, with around 40k miles.

£9000-£10,495 – Ford Approved 2014-reg ST-1 and 2s with around 35k miles; 2015-reg cars in numbers from £9500.

£10,500-£11,995 – Loads of 2015/16-reg ST-2s and 3s, most with low mileages.

£12,000-£14,500 – More very low-mileage 2016-reg ST-2s and 3s, with 2017-reg 2s starting at £12,500 and 3s at £13,000.

£14,000 AND ABOVE – The first 2016-reg ST200s, all the way to £18,000.

One we found:

FORD FIESTA ST, 2014/14, 38,500 MILES, £7900 – Okay, it’s a basic ST-1 but it’s a private-sale car so you can gauge the current owner’s mentality. It has been wrapped since day one and the bodywork is described as spotless. In standard and untuned condition, it has full Ford service history. The price is negotiable.

John Evans

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Source: Autocar Online

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