FORD has dropped more hints of what’s in store for its next Fiesta ST hot hatch -revealed in our exclusive main image – and it’s likely that the all-new performance supermini will use a tuned version of the firm’s 1.0-litre three-cylinder EcoBoost engine in place of the current car’s 1.6 turbo. Ford’s head of small cars in Europe, Darren Palmer, told Auto Express: “We’re seeing more and more of what we can do with the 1.0-litre engine in development and the signs are promising. It’s a great engine – it sounds brilliant and there’s loads of torque when the turbo comes on boost, so we’re looking into things for the next ST.”
Currently, the highest output from the three-cylinder turbo in production form is 138bhp, but back in 2012 Ford specially tuned the EcoBoost unit to 202bhp in a one-off version of its Formula Ford racer. If this power level could be achieved reliably in the forthcoming ST, it would give a 12 per cent increase over the current hottest Fiesta. Palmer told us: “There’s still a huge demand for the ST – we’ve seen that with the current ST200. But we want to offer more, so expect more performance and efficiency.” The logical way to achieve this would be to use the 1.0 EcoBoost motor, and with Ford announcing it will halve production at its engine plant in Bridgend, south Wales, which makes four-cylinder engines exclusively, the manufacturer is set to increase the use of its three-cylinder unit in future models.
The Fiesta ST is likely to be one of these. However, the improvements to Ford’s small hot hatch won’t just come under the bonnet. According to Palmer, the European development team at the brand’s Lommel testing facility in Belgium has “obsessed over the car’s steering. They’ve fine-tuned the calibration to make sure it drives exactly how a Fiesta should”. Palmer told us Ford knows it’s got one of the most popular superminis and wants to build on the nameplate’s popularity, so it’s “going in hard with the new Fiesta”.
Given the triple’s engine block is no larger than a piece of AA paper, the 1.0-litre EcoBoost is small and light, which should bring a big benefit in terms of handling. The downsized engine should also improve on the outgoing car’s claimed 47.9mpg fuel economy and 138g/km CO2 emissions. Our exclusive image – following on from spy shots of the car on test (right) – shows it’ll boast all the hardcore styling cues you’d expect from an ST, with a deep, aggressive front bumper, flared wheelarches, side skirts, a boot spoiler and a sportier rear bumper.