By on August 22, 2016

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It’s hard to believe that it’s been a year and a half since I said “I do” to Ford Credit and the 2015 Ford Fiesta ST. In that time, we’ve gone autocrossing, battled tractor trailers, bought a whole lot of groceries, and even got rid of the FiST’s big brother.

However, it’s been a little while since I’ve given you an update on TTAC’s first Fiesta, and as I made my eighteenth electronic payment on it this week, now seems as good a time as any to let you know how the little four-door is doing.

Spoiler alert: it’s still the best car I’ve ever owned.

Case in point: I spent last weekend whipping a 2017 Acura NSX around the road courses and highways of the southeastern United States. When I arrived back at the Blue Grass Airport to pick my my little Zippy, I fully expected to be disappointed when I got back behind the wheel of the hatchback.

Nothing could have been further from the truth. In fact, it was a joy to experience the raw, connected feeling of the feedback from the FiST’s steering wheel. And while the Fiesta is certainly no ten second car, it just doesn’t feel slow, no matter what you compare it to. While I somewhat detest the phrase “usable speed,” it’s true that one can comfortably use all of the speed that the FiST can give you on the streets without worrying too much about getting an increased insurance premium. Insert some sort of cliche statement about “driving a slow car fast” here if you like, but the FiST doesn’t feel like a slow car. It feels like it can hang with just about anything south of $40K on the roads. (And yes, I’ve heard of the Mustang GT. I said it feels like it can.)

There is, however, one little annoyance. The clutch pedal squeaks. Sometimes. Not every time, mind you, but occasionally when I engage it, there’s an audible complaint from the somewhat flimsy arm of the pedal, one that I’m always hoping that nobody else in the car can hear. And therein lies the reality of driving an economy car with a boosted motor. Despite the fact that the ST is, in theory, the top trim of the Fiesta, underneath the gorgeous blue paint and the ST badges lies a car that shares more than a few parts with a car that will likely be driven by a 16-year-old girl, not a grownup with a family and the occasional need to transport actual business colleagues.

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If you didn’t love the interior of the FiST on first glance, well…it doesn’t get better after 18 months. However, it has been durable. While I’ve been driving it exactly as much as the lease allows (17901 miles when the 18th payment was made), the seats and the interior have been more than up to the challenge of daily commuting and two small children in the back. Juice boxes and soccer cleats have done their combined worst to the back seat of the FiST, but it looks no worse for the wear.

Fuel economy continues to be a highlight of the Fiesta ST, as it has averaged 29.5 miles per gallon over its lifetime. Considering that most of my driving is around town, I find that to be an excellent number. On my occasional highway jaunts up to the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky airport, it’s not uncommon for me to get over 35 mpg. The older the FiST gets, however, the less it seems to like regular old 87 octane. Perhaps it’s because I tend to drive like I’m in a European rally most of the time, but the engine definitely does not provide the response you want on 87. As such, I’ve been running 93 exclusively for almost a year now, and the FiST seems much happier because of it.

There hasn’t been a single maintenance issue on the car. Everything works just like it’s supposed to, and as I just mentioned, I haven’t been easy on it. Part of my reason for leasing the Fiesta instead of buying it was that I wasn’t sure what the build quality of the car would prove to be like in the long term. Not that I consider 18 months to be the “long term,” but thus far, the car has proven to be a real quality champion.

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Tire wear has become somewhat of an issue, but that’s to be expected. I have probably put somewhere in the neighborhood of 12,000 miles on the OEM Bridgestones (I use Blizzaks in the wintertime), and the center of the tread is getting somewhat thin on the fronts — right around 3/32. However, I have put the FiST through both a Track Night in America and an autocross on these tires, and they aren’t completely done yet. Rear tires still look brand new. God bless front-wheel drive.

I’m on my second set of  front brake pads (the first set was entirely consumed by Track Night), and they’ve been squeaky ever since I put them on. That doesn’t bother me too much, as it reminds me of having Hawk Blues on my Boss 302. However, I imagine that I’ll be replacing them again before the lease runs out in February.

Ugh, that reminds me. My lease runs out in February. Honestly, I originally viewed the FiST as a bridge between my Boss 302 and a Shelby GT350R. There’s been a few hiccups with that strategy. The first one is that GT350 motors have been blowing up with some regularity lately — including one right in front of me at Charlotte Motor Speedway last weekend (which is not my story to tell, but I’m sure it will come out soon). If the 5.2 won’t hold up to track conditions over extended time…then what’s the point? Secondly, I’ve gotten very, very used to making a car payment that’s less than half of what my Boss payment was — and is more than likely about 40 percent of what a GT350 payment would be. Would the Mustang be three times as much fun as the FiST has been? I can’t imagine that it would be.

So as I stare down the last six payments on the FiST, I can’t think of anything that I’d like to have more than, well, another FiST. I haven’t spent much time behind the wheel of the Focus RS yet, but that’s scheduled to change here shortly, so I guess we’ll see what happens. I wanted Molten Orange originally, but I had to settle for Performance Blue. Hmm. I wonder if I can dig up a ’17 in Molten Orange when the time comes?

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60 Comments on “Long-term Tester Update: Heading Down The Homestretch With The FiST...”


  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    Why not just turn that lease payment into a loan payment?

    • 0 avatar
      jmo

      He’s on his second set of brake pads at 18k because of “Track Night” and general hoonage. That doesn’t usually make for a good long term keeper.

      • 0 avatar
        Higheriq

        Why? I have nearly 19K on my 2015 FiST (Molten Orange, Recaros, Nav, and sunroof) and the original pads still have plenty of meat remaining. And as he said: “the first set was entirely consumed by Track Night”. But then, I don’t do track nights. Hoonage? Absolutely.

        Mine is also the best car I’ve ever owned, which says a lot with over 43 years of car ownership.

      • 0 avatar
        sportyaccordy

        He’s been averaging less than 1,000 miles a month, and the brake pads are consumables. I think he will be fine. If it’s that much of a bother, he should get a mechanical LSD and get a tune that disables that goofy “E-diff” which accelerates brake pad wear.

        Any car he gets and tracks is going to take a beating. I’d rather deal with econocar consumables than something built for track duty.

        • 0 avatar
          jmo

          “Any car he gets and tracks is going to take a beating.”

          Hence why it’s better to lease a track car than buy a track car.

          • 0 avatar
            JimZ

            note to self: don’t buy a blue, off-lease Fiesta ST next year.

          • 0 avatar
            Coopdeville

            Further note to self: Don’t buy *any* off-lease relatively cheap hoonage car.

            Cars I want but won’t consider used:
            Fiesta ST
            Mustang GT
            WRX

          • 0 avatar
            Kyree S. Williams

            Buying a car someone tracked that was designed for the track is not a recipe for disaster, if the car was taken care of. I understand the feeling of not wanting someone else’s used toy, but the act itself isn’t destined to be bad. It looks like he’s taken reasonable care of the car—and since it’s a lease, it would behoove him to do so—and so I wouldn’t necessarily discount it for that. These cars are meant to be enjoyed this way.

          • 0 avatar
            burgersandbeer

            Don’t you need to return leases with brakes in reasonable condition?

            I don’t know why using up brake pads or any consumable would make a car a bad choice for a keeper. Even Bark, who has said he has no interest in mechanical work, probably replaces his own pads thanks to all the track/auto cross time.

            It takes me as long to safely lift/lower the car as it does to change the pads, and pads that work for track driving probably cost <$100/axle for that car. It is not a big deal.

      • 0 avatar
        duffman13

        ehh I disagree.

        I’ve been tracking my S2000 3-5 times a year with minimal impact to long term reliability. I bought the car at 75k in 2012 and am at 105k now for reference. I daily drove it for the first 2 years of ownership, now it does summer/weekend duty and maybe one trip to work a week.

        Outside of normal scheduled maintenance, I do the following: Brake pads every 4 track days, oil change every 2 track days, semi-annual brake fluid flush with a bleed before every track weekend, and use up the tires about every 2 years or 10k miles (200TW tires don’t last very long, but I don’t drive too much in it anymore). I do tranny and diff fluid annually. I also do all of this in my driveway, it’s quick, fairly easy work.

        I haven’t had a single failure of note. If you take care of it and keep up with the maintenance you’ll be fine. You just wear through consumables and fluids at a much higher pace than a normal driver. I will say this would eat me alive if I was paying shop rates for every pad swap or fluid change though.

        • 0 avatar
          jmo

          “minimal impact to long term reliability. ”

          It only has 105k so how do you really know what the impact will be?

          • 0 avatar
            duffman13

            It’s 12 years old with 105k on it, at least half of that being autocrossed heavily (regional podium guy owned it before me), and a quarter of it being tracked several times a year.

            There are plenty of high mileage S2000 track cars that people campaign in TT and Honda Challenge reliably. If 105k and over a decade isn’t long term, I don’t know what is. I can message you back in 5-6 years when I hit 150k.

            You’re more likely to lose the engine to a money shift, or the car to contact than have an actual reliability incident, at least in the tracked S2000 community.

    • 0 avatar
      daviel

      Thought you said you owned it.

    • 0 avatar
      Fordson

      THANK YOU. First comment is the best comment. A solution in search of a problem.

  • avatar
    NoID

    Do you not rotate your tires? Seems to me fronts near end-of-life and rears near start-of-life is easily prevented by rotation.

    But who am I to judge, The Beast is 5000 miles overdue for it’s own tire rotation and I went about 2,000 long on the Tinivan as well.

    • 0 avatar
      burgersandbeer

      He would probably have to rotate often to even out the wear caused by track time and hooning. Not worth the hassle. Just replace them.

      Can you turn in a lease wearing winter rubber, or does it have to be comparable to the OEM tires?

    • 0 avatar
      MBella

      The tires also look overinflated. Hard driving should wear out the edges more, not the center.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

      Exactly what I came here to say. If nothing else, I’d swap em out now (best tires on the front is my policy, since a blowout is far easier to deal with when it isn’t on a wheel responsible for the direction of the car, not to mention traction on a FWD). and as MBella mentioned, check the air pressure.

  • avatar
    30-mile fetch

    You love it. You owned an enviable version of the Mustang prior, continue to have access to higher end performance cars, and you still love it. It’s cheap. I’d ride that wave of affordable funky enjoyment for another few years. Your idea of leasing another one in a different color seems like the best solution.

    • 0 avatar
      NoID

      Every time I read a review of one of our competitors’ small performance car offerings I die a little bit more inside. In order to “Ride that wave of affordable funky enjoyment” I’d need to purchase a used Dodge SRT-4 (or something even older) or throw my money down on a competitor’s offering. Fiat’s Abarth line is simply too much of a lifestyle choice, and since my lifestyle includes more kids under my roof than live in the rest of the houses on my cul-de-sac, there’s no room for a 500 or 124 Spider in my fleet.

      Keep enjoying your car Bark, and don’t feel pressured to keep up with the HiPo Joneses. If you like the FiST, keep on FiSTing.

  • avatar
    JimZ

    well, next time you hear the occasional squeak from the clutch pedal, just be thankful they didn’t outfit the ST with the DPS6.

  • avatar
    brenschluss

    One of the first things I did when I got mine was give the noisy clutch spring hinge a little squirt of (plastic-safe) dry lube. I had forgotten that they do that.

    There are definitely some quality, uh, quirks that belie this being a very, very cheap car. I’m reminded of this every time I put pressure on the dead pedal and my foot gets caught behind the plastic kick panel, for example.

    But long story short, the rest is too good for me to care about that.

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      When you get down to it, the FiST is more or less a “parts bin” car (save for the stuff that actually has “ST” on it.) The engine is the 1.6 Sigma from the Escape/Fusion, the transmission is from the Mondeo/Kuga, etc. Like the SRT-4, the FiST was basically a “no brainer.”

      • 0 avatar
        NoID

        As someone who is working on the development of a new model that fits your definition of a parts-bin “no brainer”, I can tell you that my workload begs to differ with your assessment.

      • 0 avatar
        brenschluss

        Be that as it may, the reason I like it is because it doesn’t feel like a diluted, focus-grouped hodgepodge of ideas, or a half-hearted parts-bin Frankenstein. Rather it feels like a small group of people had a clear vision of how this thing should operate, and they went for it without anyone telling them to make it a bit softer, quieter, or more stable. However they managed to arrive here, I applaud them for making such an uncompromising yet well-rounded car at such a crazy low price point.

        My complaints about initial quality do need to be hedged a bit because of that last point. If I’m buying a new S550 and the interfaces are squeaking and rattling, that’s not cool, and I’m going to enjoy some dealership pastries while they sort that out. On a $20k, Mexican-built Fiesta, I’m more than willing to accept that I might need to get under it and finish screwing a couple things down.

    • 0 avatar
      Sigivald

      Yeah, I bet five seconds and a can of silicone lube fixes that squeak…

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    This is on the short list of cars that I think about and think about how understanding the wife will be about the storage of winter tires. :-)

    • 0 avatar
      Willyam

      I know, right? If my goofy homeowners assoc would just get over their problem with backyard storage buildings so I could finally kick all non-car stuff out of MY garage…

      • 0 avatar
        Felix Hoenikker

        HOAs! Good for the other guy.

        • 0 avatar
          JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

          I know this egotistical jackass who just happens to be president of his HOA. When I lived there, it was just a friendly, quiet old man that kept rusty Camaros from getting lost in the front lawn’s grass. Everone did a very reasonable job of keeping their home upper-middle-class looking.

          He runs it now, and is a total tyrant. I could cite many examples, but let me put it this way: he’s the same type of person as the ones that tell you your $50K F-150 Platinum can’t be parked in your driveway, but your daughter’s Suzuki Reno can, because one is a truck and God-forbid we have to look at those awful examples of people who don’t have the decency to lease a base model 3-series like we do.

          He hasn’t tried to ban pickups, but he does possess the personality and arrogance to try something equally egregious. I’m glad I don’t live there anymore, and I only rarely have to talk/deal with him.

          I told my buddy it would be hilarious to find out when the next HOA president election is, and have a sign made up that reads “RE-ELECT JOSEPH STALIN 201x!” to put it in his yard that morning after he left for work.

          If I lived in one of those no-pickup-outside neighborhoods, I’d buy a mid-70s Datsun B210 hatchback in some obnoxious color or in poor cosmetic condition, with my personal “muffler delete” package. When my F-150 went in the garage, the Datsun would come out so everyone can look at it instead of my ghastly pickup.

          Let them ban cars older than a certain age. I could use my own Suzuki Daewoo or a newish Mirage with the same package, even “distress” them like some furniture is done. One wheel cover (possibly a spinner) on each side, one exposed wheel silver, the other body color of the car.

      • 0 avatar
        NoID

        I’m moving out of a subdivision in October and I couldn’t be happier. I’ll miss the Cul-de-sac, but my front yard and driveway will be large enough that the kids can ride bikes and play there instead. 10 acres, 0 HOA nonsense.

        • 0 avatar
          30-mile fetch

          10 acres? You can build your own cul-de-sac on 10 acres. I wish I could do it, even good neighbors tend to irritate me at times and I’d love one of those freeway noise walls between me and my neighbor on the east.

    • 0 avatar
      MBella

      I will never live in a subdivision with an HOA. The only people that go to the meetings are people that have nothing better to do. They spend their time coming up with stupid rules, and trying to figure out how to spend more money. I don’t get the idea of paying a 30 year note on a property, and having someone else tell me how I’m going to use it.

  • avatar
    Willyam

    I keep trying to avoid owning one, using durability as the excuse. However, I’m now seeing a couple used ones in the 18k range with under 20k miles (other lease returns?). My favorite car (my Gen I GTi) left me walking a lot during our codependent relationship back in the 80’s.

    Am I too old for another hatchback? Especially one that sounds like Ren Hoek laughing maniacally?

    • 0 avatar
      Higheriq

      I’m 55, and I own a FiST. Are you older than that?

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      I don’t think so. Most of the people I see in these things tend to be dudes in their 40s. Same with 4 door GTIs. Focus STs tend to be driven by younger backwards cap kids. I wouldn’t worry about it

    • 0 avatar
      DubTee1480

      If you’re willing to drive/fly out of your way and not hung up on only having a base model I’ve noticed NEW ones in the $18K range but all would require me to driving 500-600 miles or to buy it and have it transported in. Looking at Cars.com.

    • 0 avatar
      hubcap

      “Am I too old for another hatchback? Especially one that sounds like Ren Hoek laughing maniacally?”

      Hell to the Naw!

      But it you think you are go ahead and get that Buick Encore or Honda HRV you’re been lusting over.

      I’m sure they’d look decidedly age appropriate.

  • avatar
    FerrariLaFerrariFace

    “underneath the gorgeous blue paint and the ST badges lies a car that shares more than a few parts with a car that will likely be driven by a 16-year-old girl, not a grownup with a family and the occasional need to transport actual business colleagues.”

    That squeaky clutch pedal is more than likely NOT one of those shared parts, however.

  • avatar
    CarnotCycle

    Got up to an interesting pace running down one of these through some country switchbacks and a couple straightaways last week. Spirited, skilled driver who saw me and was game. The FiST was a vivid kind of lava-glowing orange; very fun looking car.

  • avatar
    TheEndlessEnigma

    I own a 2016 FiST, Kona Blue. My clutch pedal has had a squeak from day one. In fact, I had the pedal replaced at about 250 miles under warranty due to the squeaking, and the replacement clutch pedal does EXACTLY the same thing. Was told, by a Ford engineering rep the pedal is going to do that, nothing they can do about it (something about rubber bushings).

    ANYWAY

    That aside, the FiST is a fantastic little car.

  • avatar
    ctowne32

    I cracked 40k miles on mine. It is unqualified the best car I’ve ever owned. Low maintenance, though the OEM tires and brakes are long gone. (both done by 15k miles, no track use, 3 or 4 autocrosses) aftermarket pads and tires are quite acceptable substitutes. Especially considering the brake dust is now 1/10th of what it was.

    My only gripes:
    4×108 bolt pattern. Seriously limits wheel choice.
    Wiper stalk is upside down from most other cars. On is down, up is off.

    That is all.

    I bought mine, not leased. Feeling pretty good about the decision. I’d hate to have to give this car back after 2 or 3 years.

    • 0 avatar
      Sigivald

      “Wiper stalk is upside down from most other cars. On is down, up is off. ”

      Huh.

      I have never had a car where I pushed the wiper stalk up to activate it, that I can recall; always down, on my Toyotas, my Ford, and my Volvo.

      (My first car was a Metro, and the wiper control was … buttons on the instrument cowl, which was kinda nice, if utterly nonstandard.)

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        The inconsistency on this between cars drives me crazy. Just in my personal fleet:

        LS460: Up is on, down is off.
        C-Max: Down is on, up is off.
        ex-Forester: Up is on, down is off.
        ex-G8: Down is on, up is off.

        And then there’s my old Legend, which has a switch that twists instead of going up or down.

  • avatar

    Just don’t buy the slushbox version. Consumer Reports says the auto trans on these are highly unreliable.

    • 0 avatar
      TheEndlessEnigma

      There is no auto version of the ST, manual only.

    • 0 avatar
      PenguinBoy

      Can you even get an automatic in an ST? I thought they were all 6MT.

      Also, if they still offered a slushbox in the regular Fiesta it would likely be less problematic. I believe the “power shift” automatic is a DCT.

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      you needed Consumer Reports to tell you the dual-clutch box has been problematic?

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        I don’t trust anybody’s dual clutch auto. I love Ford’s products but if I buy the blue oval its going to be conventional automatic or manual.

        • 0 avatar
          jim brewer

          Transmissions are not, shall we say, Ford’s strong suit. Frst time I brought car in for service there was a large sticky on the service writer’s computer terminal ” No transmission appointments for (I forget the model) until October!” About a month out.

          Got my own recall notice a few weeks ago. It seems car downshifts into a very low gear at highway speeds occasionally for no apparent reason.

          • 0 avatar
            DubTee1480

            @jim brewer
            What model is this on? The 2015 Fusion my wife drives had an annoying “stutter” around 40 mph, felt like the transmission was trying to downshift but wouldn’t unless more throttle was applied. Local dealer had the car for almost a week and couldn’t replicate it, eventually I pulled a tech out of the shop and drove him around until it did it and he acknowledged he felt it. It was very subtle, on a rough road you might mistake it for the road surface. I pushed for a reflash of the control computer which seems to have fixed it. Just curious what model you got a recall on, I haven’t seen anything from Ford yet on ours.

  • avatar
    Kendahl

    Instead of another Fiesta ST, how about a Focus RS provided you can handle the monthly payment?

  • avatar
    rplamann

    I vote GT350. I’d like to hear more about the engine issues

  • avatar
    BillGammon

    A great look at the FIST. I have to agree with just about everything stated, including that there really isn’t anything in the market to replace it with.

    I have a 2014 on which I just made the 36th payment. Every month when I make that payment, I smile. The car is just that good and it makes me that happy every time I drive it.

    Looking ahead, there is nothing that I would trade it for. I’ve been keeping an eye on inventory of the FIST and if I find just the combination I want, I might just swap for a new one. But, this late in the model year, I may want to see what 2017 brings in the form of colors.

    40k in my car and it was turning laps at Summit Point with just 900 miles on it. I’ve been through 7 sets of front pads, 3 sets of front rotors and a commensurate amount of rear components. Tires, too many sets to recall. I’ve bent each wheel on potholes (sidewalls are too small for our roads) and I set the brakes on fire at least twice on track. Even with all that, the car has performed in a near perfect fashion. Only in the last few weeks has the AC seemed to be waning. I’ll get it checked in a week or so.

    Otherwise, the FIST is a near perfect combination of what true enthusiasts want. Sure, it’s kind of ugly and based on a bare-bones econobox that leaves a lot to be desired in some ways, but once you drive it and spend some time enjoying what it offers, a lot of those issues just melt away.

    If I could find a Magnetic with Orange Recaros, a sunroof, the summer tires and NOT drilled through the nose for a front plate anywhere near my home, I likely would have already traded up to assure more years of enjoyment in a FIST.

  • avatar
    brettc

    I’m considering one of these to replace my Sportwagen. Used without a warranty and 20k miles they’re $17k. New are $22k, which is about what VW will give me.

    Crappy thing is you have to get the Recaro package for heated mirrors and heated seats, so I don’t know. M/Bark, how are the headlights?

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