Is £23,000 too much for a Ford Fiesta? The ST200 is a hardened hot hatch, but can it match the premium Mini Cooper S?
- New Ford Fiesta ST200 priced from £22,745 - £35 cheaper than the Mini here
- Ford's new range topper uses a 1.6-litre turbo engine producing 197bhp
- That's 8bhp more than the bigger 2.0-litre petrol engine in the Mini Cooper S
- So which one is the better hot hatchback? We've made our decision...
The Ford Fiesta ST is a brilliant hot hatch, delivering perhaps the finest real-world driver-focused thrills this side of £25,000.
And Ford has has built upon that incredible platform with a new range-topping model called the ST200.
And when we say range-topper, we mean it.
The new and more powerful Fiesta ST200 is now in the realms of Mini Cooper S prices, such as the one in this well-stocked Chili Media XL guise. So has Ford bitten off more than it can chew by entering Mini's premium hatch territory?
Tough task: The new Fiesta ST200 (left) costs £22,745, which is almost the same as a mid-spec Mini Cooper S (right). But has it bitten off more than it can chew by going head-to-head with Mini's more premium hot hatch?
It’s not hard to see why the Mini claims premium status in the metal. The funky-looking Cooper S is a charismatic thing and, inside, has a decidedly BMW-grade interior. Quality is high and the controls are solid and crisp.
It uses BMW’s excellent iDrive infotainment system as well, which is almost peerless in its clarity and functionality. Chuck in a sportily low driving position and the Mini takes a quick lead in this twin test.
The Fiesta can’t match it for quality. It does, however, perhaps predictably topple the Mini for practicality.
It seats five, has a bigger boot and is generally roomier and easier to use. It has a brilliant set of sports seats too, which outclass the Mini’s.
The handling of the Fiesta ST200 lives up to the purposeful feel of these Recaro seats. It’s simply brilliant, with tremendous accuracy, a wonderfully willing chassis, perfect body control and the ability to simply get better and better the faster you go. It’s an exceptional chassis that is ever-entertaining and intuitive.
The mini has go-kart-like steering, but the handing finesse declines as your speed increases
If you're looking to buy a car that depreciates slowly and gains a high return of your initial outlay when it comes to sell, there are fewer better cars than a Mini hatchback
The Mini is fun too, with kart-like steering and sharp agility. The trouble is, it becomes less impressive as you go faster. The body leans more, the front end washes wide. It simply doesn’t have the depths of the ST200.
It does ride marginally more smoothly, although we can’t help but think this is more down to the optional adaptive dampers fitted to our test car.
Neither car is particularly serene in town, and neither is all that hushed at speed. Saying that, the Fiesta probably edges it for overall refinement on the motorway.
The Mini Cooper S interior is the better of the two in terms of luxuriousness and finish quality
The Ford Fiesta ST200 interior feels racy enough, with flashes on titanium-effect materials laced across the dashboard and centre console
The Ford is faster in the real world too, courtesy of its well-judged gear ratios.
The gearbox is also fantastic and the engine is really keen to rev. The Mini is initially faster off the line but its vague, notchy gearbox soon lets it down. The gear ratios are more long-legged as well, which slightly dulls its quick-wittedness.
Both will cost similar amounts to run. The Mini may hold its value better, but the Fiesta offsets this advantage with greater dealer discounts. They’re similarly affordable on finance, and equipment levels are well matched.
Over £22,000 for a Ford Fiesta sounds extortionate, but this is unlike any normal Fiesta - it fully warrants its range-topping tagline
In terms of practicality, performance and cruising capabilities, the Ford wins this battle. And if you can't afford the pricey ST200, a standard ST model will deliver almost all the same perks
So it all comes down to driver appeal. And here, it’s the sheer brio of the Fiesta that sees it steal the lead. It’s simply more fun to drive, which is exactly what people are looking for in a hot hatch.
Sure, the Mini has a nicer cabin, but it’s back-road blastability that buyers really want with these cars. And here, the Fiesta is the better car.
There’s an extra bonus in the Fiesta’s favour too. If the ST200 is too expensive for you, take a look at the much cheaper ST-2 alternative. It’s a little less powerful and isn’t as well equipped, but it’s otherwise identical and every but as much fun.
Sorry Mini, but you really can’t go wrong with Ford’s ever-fine pocket-rocket.
FORD FIESTA ST200 VS MINI COOPER S
FORD FIESTA ST200
Engine size: 1.6-litre, petrol, turbo
List price: £22,745
Target Price: £19,568
Torque: 213lb ft
Top speed: 142mph
Official fuel economy: 46.3mpg
True MPG: 39.6mpg
CO2 emissions: 140g/km
MINI COOPER S CHILLI MEDIA XL
Engine size: 2.0-litre, petrol, turbo
List price: £22,780
Target Price: £21,511
Torque: 207lb ft
Top speed: 146mph
Official fuel economy: 49.6mpg
True MPG: 37.2mpg
CO2 emissions: 133g/km
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