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Ford recently gave us the keys to its Fiesta ST 200 for a week, during which we got a little more acquainted with this feisty pocket-rocket. The Fiesta has set the sporty benchmark in its segment for the last 40 years, and the Fiesta ST 200 that has been made available locally in limited quantities of 160 units, is the embodiment of all that performance. This hatchback gives the already sporty Fiesta ST a bit more visual appeal, while dialling the performance up to 11.

Business at the front

Under the bonnet of the Fiesta ST 200 resides a 1.6-litre EcoBoost turbocharged petrol engine that boosts the peak power of the ST (134 kW) to 149 kW (or 200hp – hence the ST 200 designation). Maximum torque jumps from the standard car’s 240 Nm to 290 Nm. A further 11 kW and 30 Nm are also available for a not-too-brief time of up to 20 seconds using the engine’s transient overboost.

We can report that it works wonderfully, knocking you back in the comfortable and very supportive premium Recaro sport seats. These seats don’t just feature partial leather for a more upmarket feel but are also heated, which is the perfect remedy for those nippy winter mornings.

The ride is definitely on the firm side thanks to the low profile tires and sporty setup syspension wise, but never uncomfortable. The suspension sports a rear twistbeam with 27% more roll stiffness compared to the ST, plus an increase in diameter from 19 to 21 mm for the front anti-roll bar and new damper specifications for better impact absorption.

Ford has also revised the settings of the Electronic Power Assisted Steering (EPAS) to improve cornering feedback and control. As with the standard model, the Fiesta ST200 is equipped with ABS, Electronic Stability Programme (ESP) and enhanced Torque Vectoring Control to ensure efficient power delivery to the front wheels, even under the most demanding driving conditions. The ST 200 handles remarkable well and will definitely put a smile on your face, especially while driving in some tight twisty corners on the daily commute.

The ST’s quick-shifting six-speed manual transmission receives a shorter final drive ratio (reduced from 3.82 to 4.06) for improved drivability in the ST200, enabling the ST200 to accelerate from standstill to 100km/h in 6.7 seconds. The top speed is electronically limited to 230 km/h. The shorter shit ration does add to the sporty driving feel and the manual shifter makes for a nice pairing with the Ecoboost powerplant. In terms of fuel usage, the claimed usage is  pegged at 6.1 litres per 100km, but we averaged around eight litres per 100 km.

Party at the back (and front and inside)

Enhancements to the exterior include a unique ‘Storm Grey’ metallic colour that have been introduced exclusively for the ST200 (and is the only colour available to ST200 buyers). It compliments the rest of the sporty styling enhancements very nicely indeed. During our week with the vehicle, people came up to us at garage stations and mall parking lots to get a closer look or simply pointed and gaped at the eye-catching car at the robot.

Additional styling elements of the car includes unique matt black 17″ five-spoke alloy wheels, frame red front and rear brake callipers, as well as rear LED tail lamps. There are also exclusive ST200 exterior and interior badging so people will know that this ain’t your run-of-the-mill ST.

On the inside, besides the Recaro seats and ST 200 badging, you get dual-tone seatbelts, illuminated scuff plates and privacy glass for the rear windows. We liked the addition of reverse parking sensors with an integrated reverse camera as this made parking in ultra-cramp basement mall parking lots a breeze.

All of the standard Fiesta ST’s features remain part of the package, including SYNC with Bluetooth and Voice Control, Ford MyKey, remote central locking with keyless entry and start, climate control, as well as seven airbags including a driver’s knee airbag. This is where there might be a chink in the armour as the interior of the Fiesta ST 200 is based on the outgoing Fiesta model. So you get the old-school centre console and its myriad of buttons which has a bit of a learning curve in the beginning, but once you figure out what each does, it’s pretty simple and easy to navigate all of the functionality on offer. Speaking of which, check out our infotainment quick review of Sync here. If the latest and greatest tech is a priority for you, you may want to wait for the new Fiesta coming later this year which features a tablet-style touchscreen instead of all the buttons and Sync 3 (SA specs still TBC).

The price of admission for this exclusive, limited edition Ford Fiesta ST200 comes to R339 900 (including VAT) and includes the standard Ford Protect four year or 120 000 km comprehensive warranty, four year or 60 000 km service plan, five year unlimited distance corrosion warranty, and three year unlimited distance Ford Roadside Assistance. Service intervals are every 15 000 km. We think it is definitely worth the extra R10 000 above and beyond the price of the regular ST to slid into the driver’s seat of this amazing little performance car.