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Ford Fiesta ST: Buying guide and review (2005-2008)

Ford Fiesta ST Ford Fiesta ST Ford Fiesta ST Ford Fiesta ST Ford Fiesta ST Ford Fiesta ST Ford Fiesta ST
Even Ford admitted it. The Fiesta ST – as launched at the back end of 2004 – wasn’t the car that people like us had been hoping for. In ST150 form, with its 2-litre engine pegged at 148bhp to make it insurable for young drivers, and a chassis short on real flair, it was a decent hot(ish) hatch but no match for a contemporary Cooper S or Clio Cup. 
 
This was a shame, because we’d waited a long time for a new go-faster Fiesta. It looked great, too, with its 17-inch multi-spoke alloys and subtle bodykit, and for £13,595 you got plenty of kit, including half-leather, a six-CD hi-fi, switchable ESP and air con. Full leather was an extra £700, metallic paint £325, and a full set of stripes another £200.
 
Underneath was the then-new 2-litre Duratec also found in the Mondeo and Focus, with freer-flowing inlet and exhaust manifolds and a lightened flywheel. Peak power came at 6000rpm, and it went to the front wheels via a close-ratio five-speed ’box, giving 0-60mph in 7.9sec and 129mph all-in. Chassis changes included stiffer front springs, a stiffer rear twist-beam, retuned dampers, discs all round (rear discs being a first on a Fiesta), and a quicker steering rack.
 
Which one to buy? 
 
Alas, the ST was something less than the sum of its parts, and Ford acknowledged as much when it quickly revealed a raft of aftermarket upgrades developed by Mountune. Stage 1 – improved breathing and a sports exhaust – gave 165bhp; Stage 2 added high-lift cams for a properly punchy 185bhp, Stage 3 brought a new inlet manifold and 200bhp. There were lower and stiffer KW coilovers, developed at the Ring, and some rather fine Recaros. All were available through selected Ford dealers and, except for the ST200, wouldn’t affect the warranty. 
 
In time other tuners offered their own upgrades. There’s a wealth of information on the best of these on the ST dedicated forums. Variant-wise, November 2005 saw a facelift with new lights, better interior plastics and some extra toys, while the ST500 was a limited edition (of 500) with black 11-spoke alloys, red calipers, special graphics, ebony leather heated seats and a Sony hi-fi.
 
Performance and specs
 
Engine 1998cc, in-line four
Power 148bhp @ 6000rpm
Torque 140lb ft @ 4500rpm
Top speed 129mph
0-60mph 7.9sec
Fuel consumption 38.0mpg
Insurance group 26
Gearbox Five-speed manual
 
Dimensions and weight
 
Wheelbase 2486mm
Length 3921mm
Width 1478mm
Height 1468mm
Kerb weight 1137kg
 
Common problems
 
• Don’t be put off by modified cars; most STs have had some sort of aftermarket upgrades, even if it’s just a cold-air induction kit. And if you do find an unmolested example, you’ll almost certainly want to modify it anyway. 

• Without going to forced induction, 185bhp is easily attained with cams and a remap, while adding a Cosworth inlet manifold gives around 200bhp. The Duratec takes these sort of outputs in its stride.

• The biggest problem is oil starvation, and ultimately you get big-end failures. There’s not much you can do apart from keeping the oil topped up. So ascertain that the oil has been checked regularly and changed at least annually. Every 6000 miles is recommended

• Probably the most common issue with the ST is the transmission. Because it’s an open diff, where the planetary gears are mounted on the pinions there’s only a very small circlip to hold them, and these clips tend to fail, resulting in a nice big hole in the side of the casing.

• A reconditioned gearbox costs around £540. If you’re uprating the engine, a limited-slip diff is highly desirable, with the big bonus of eliminating the weak point (a Quaife diff is currently around £700).

• The gearshift can feel stiff when cold but should ease as it warms up; if it gets worse, the linkage/bush may need greasing.

• Obviously with the age of the cars now, you’re looking at the bushes in the front arms and the rear beam. If they’re worn it’s well worth getting replacements.

• The power-steering fluid should be red – if it’s black, it’s ‘boiled’ and needs replacing, but it’s a cheap and easy job. If you’re doing trackdays, a brake upgrade, usually to a Mondeo caliper with a Focus ST170 disc, is desirable. 

• BC Racing coilovers are a popular choice for fast road use and the occasional trackday; Bilstein B12s for general road use, and Michelin Pilot Sport 3s are the tyre of choice on standard wheels.

• Some early cars have started to rust, particularly around the wheelarches, so check carefully. 

• The heated front screen elements can start to fail, so that’s worth testing (if conditions allow). 

• Check both seats tilt forward as the catches can break.
 
Owners clubs, forums and websites
 
• fiestastoc.com 
• fordfiestast.co.uk
• jam-sport.co.uk
• mountunestore.com 
• grahamgoode.com
• pumaspeed.co.uk
 
Summary and prices
 
Privately advertised ’05/’06 cars with average to high miles and at least some service history start at £2500, rising to £3000 for lower mileage examples with full histories and higher spec (full leather, etc). £3000 is also the starting point for early cars from dealers. £4000 gives you a good choice of ’06/’07 cars with low miles and the right sort of upgrades. £4000-5000 brings in ’07/’08 cars, while £6000 buys the very best 2008 cars with low miles and impeccable provenance. 
 
Words: Peter Tomalin
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Last updated: 15th Mar 2016
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