Matt’s smarter than me. Right from the start let’s get that straight…
For the last several years I have gone on & on about the Ford Fiesta ST being the best, most fun car… even for double it’s sticker price. Yet I don’t own one. Matt does and it’s one of the most magnificent, perfectly executed examples you will find.
First off, let me make a blanket statement: Performance cars look amazing in white…
It’s a fact. Whether it’s a GT3 RS or this Fiesta ST, white cars are the business. Character lines pop on white, as do curves. White looks race ready; white is awesome. Period. Add giant Stoptech brakes, a hybrid turbo, & side exit exhaust to the mix… and what this equation yields is a car that looks as good as it goes.
As further proof that the FiST is an amazing package…
You will find those amazing factory-fit Recaros still on the job, albeit with some proper Scroth Pro harness HANS-equipped belts at the ready to keep Matt safe as he aims for FTD.
D-LNG turbo fans are amazing on just about any car…
And when they are fitting over Fifteen52’s Tarmacs, well, that’s a combo made in motorsport heaven. It recalls IMSA and Group C fire breathers… and that’s always a good thing.
Many owners never hustle their car fast enough to think about things like aero…
Most of the time addenda like wings, canards and splitters are there simply because they add to the aesthetic appeal of a hot hatch. Well not in this case. Matt found himself frequently carrying more speed through sweepers than the car was prepared for. A few carefully planned mods turned his track day frown upside down. Aerowise – Matt’s running a custom Automotion chassis splitter & air dam, with an MGC Modifications rear wing on custom mounts. Suspension-wise – the FiST is aided by Eibach adjustable sway bars in conjunction with corner-balanced BC Racing coilovers. It all works in harmony to keep this FiST stable & seriously quick in corners.
Under the hood of the Fiesta ST – there is the expected long list of goodies…
Starting with the X47 turbo & bevy of Whoosh products… to the Mishimoto radiator and Tstat… to the Cobb Tuning Accessport & JST Performance tune… it’s all about making more power consistently & reliably. Because while it’s generally easy to mod a factory-turbocharged car & make a load more power, the result can upset the balance, thus making the car less usable, and even less enjoyable in the grand scheme of things.
With Matt’s Gambill’s Ford Fiesta ST, every aftermarket part has been executed to make the car perform better… with no downside or drawback.
Making a perfectly balanced car even better is no small task, but Matt has amplified the FiST’s overall performance characteristics, & it shows in the lap times. Aero, Acceleration, Braking, and Yaw… and all been treated as equally important and have yielded an exceptional result.
“I’ve absolutely fallen in love with my Fiesta over the last few years. It’s been nearly perfect for 47k HARD miles. What’s even better is running costs. It’s incredibly inexpensive and it’s a lot more fun (and more practical) to drive than a Miata. I test drive different cars all the time thinking one of them might take its place, but as soon as I get back in the FiST for the drive home… it’s game over for whatever else. Everyone online was right. It’s a great car and I’ll never sell it.”
Feeling this connected to a car is a rare trait… especially these days…
The Ford Fiesta ST is a future cult classic, no doubt. The FiST just has it where it counts, becoming more than a mere hot hatch. It’s a paragon of performance perfection, and Matt’s turned his into… well… probably one of the best on the planet. He’s spent the last few years of FiST ownership with the Smiles-Per-Hour gauge absolutely pegged, all while putting cars that cost 4x as much a lap down at each track session. Sounds like fun, right? See, I told you he was smarter than me.
When Ford gets out of their own way, DAMN they can really make a cool car! And I’ll admit I’m biased, because I own a Fiesta ST. That’s why I didn’t write this article.
1) But I also drive & review a lot of new cars…….. and I own a Fiesta ST.
2) Hell it’s the first Ford I’ve ever purchased.
3) Damn near every credible automotive media outlet gushes over the Fiesta ST.
So what does all that all mean??
Maybe… just maybe… Ford got this one right guys.
Is the FiST as good as a Civic Type-R? No.
Is it as fun as a Civic Type-R? More.
This car drives like…. hearing an old Sum 41 song.
It totally unlocks new levels with minimal aftermarket parts. (thanks to a 1.6 closed deck turbocharged engine).
It’s everything that makes you nostalgic about juiced-up 90s-era Japanese hatchbacks.
And easily financeable. Like… less than $250/month for a FiST with less than 35,000 miles.
The Fiesta ST is (sorry: was) the car that proves American car enthusiasts WILL NOT actually buy the car they scream online online.
But I will.
Text by Tim Neely & Wooley Photos by Benny Whiles Car Owner: Matt Gambill