The new Ford Fiesta ST hot hatch will for the first time be available with a Quaife mechanical limited-slip front differential like the one in the Focus RS limited-edition.
The optional Quaife LSD was announced in the lead-up to the European launch of the new Fiesta ST, which Ford has now also confirmed will come standard with patented ‘force vectoring’ rear suspension.
Both mechanical advances should provide the German-built pocket-rocket, which downsizes to a 1.5-litre turbo-petrol triple-cylinder that delivers tastier 147kW/290Nm outputs, with even more grip than the acclaimed model it replaces.
However, as we’ve reported, while the superseded Fiesta – released back in 2009 — continues to be imported here from Thailand, the new Fiesta ST will come Down Under early next year.
That means the arch-rivalry between the Focus ST and Volkswagen Polo GTI – the new generation of which comes here in August as an automatic only – will continue for another generation at least.
Other pint-size hot-hatch rivals for the Fiesta ST include the Renault Clio RS and Peugeot 208 GTi.
In Europe, the MkIII Fiesta ST will be available in three-door and five-door form from May, both equipped exclusively with a six-speed manual transmission.
We expect Ford Australia to import a single, well-specified variant – perhaps only the three-door – fitted as standard with Europe’s optional Quaife LSD.
Conceived to reduce understeer and increase cornering grip by preventing the inside wheel from spinning during hard or early acceleration, the clever LSD has until now been reserved for Ford’s larger, more expensive Focus RS LE hot hatch.
“Performance car drivers will be familiar with the dreaded ‘one-wheel peel, where a fast corner exit is hampered by an overload of torque to the inside wheel,” said Leo Roeks, Ford Performance Europe director.
“We’ve tuned the all-new Fiesta ST’s mechanical LSD option to work seamlessly with enhanced Torque Vectoring Control to deliver the best possible natural traction without ‘burning away’ excess torque with brake interventions.”
While the new Fiesta ST remains front-wheel drive – unlike the all-wheel drive Focus RS – its other new development (this time standard) is a force-vectoring twist-beam rear suspension set-up.
Patented by Ford, it works by using non-uniform directionally-wound springs that allow “cornering forces to travel directly into the spring, for increased lateral stiffness”, says Ford Performance.
It claims this new rear suspension system saves around 10kg compared to a Watts linkage arrangement and also delivers improved reactions to turn-in, directional changes and general steering input.
Roeks said the new suspension configuration took a lot of trial-and-error to perfect.
“We went through three times the normal number of suspension iterations to find a set-up that delivered the exciting driving experience demanded of an ST model, but also comfort and refinement for everyday driving.”
As we know, the next Fiesta ST will come with standard, sport and race modes, as well as a special launch control system like the Focus RS.
Claimed to deliver “consistently fast standing-starts on track”, the latter enables the new Fiesta ST to hit 100km/h two-tenths more quickly in 6.5 seconds, and reach its formidable 230km/h top speed more quickly too.
As in the Focus RS, the driver simply engages launch control, engages first gear, stomps on the throttle and then side-steps the clutch pedal.
The car does the rest, dialling in the optimum amount of torque, traction/stability control and torque vectoring to maximise traction and acceleration to smash out consistently fast launches.
There’s also a special graphical overlay in the instrument binnacle, which houses a 6250rpm-redline tacho.
Other unique Fiesta RS features include a branded flat-bottom steering wheel and Recaro sports front seats, plus uprated brakes and wheels.
Meantime, Ford’s bigger, roomier, safer and higher-tech Mk7 Fiesta went on sale in Europe last year with new driver-assist and connectivity technologies, but won’t be sold in Australia because it will only be made in Germany for now, making mainstream variants too expensive.
The superseded Fiesta – the fourth generation sold in Australia, where it replaced the Festiva – continues to be built in Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, China, India, South Africa and Thailand, from where Ford Australia has sourced its light-car since December 2010.
Ford says the existing Fiesta, which is now nine years old and last updated in July 2013, will continue to soldier on indefinitely in Australia, where sales were down more than 43 per cent last year to just 1550, making it the 10th most popular car in its class.
In contrast, the Fiesta has been the most popular model bar none in the UK for the past eight years, and became the country’s best-selling vehicle nameplate of all time in July 2014 with more than four million sold.
It also remains one of Europe’s top-sellers and Ford’s third most successful model globally, behind the F-Series and Escort, with more than 16 million sales over 40 years since 1976.
Ford’s outgoing Fiesta ST model is a true giant-killer and remains one of the best bang-for-your-buck hot hatches on the market.
Priced at $27,490, the current Ford Fiesta ST is powered by a 1.6-litre turbo-four and came fifth outright in motoring.com.au’s inaugural Australia’s Best Driver’s Car (ABDC) in 2015.
Source : https://www.motoring.com.au/focus-rs-diff-for-new-ford-fiesta-st-111576/1033