Ford Fiesta ST3After MR broke the news that Ford was launching a range-topping Fiesta ST3 variant, we were eager to test one and see how the package worked. 

The Fiesta ST itself is a highly acclaimed hot hatch. But what’s it like when that £17,250 headline price becomes £19,250? What does the extra spend bring and is it worth customers making the £2000 investment? We had to find out.

Ford launches new range-topping Fiesta ST3

A Fiesta ST3 resplendent in Race Red thus sits in the MR car park, complete with new standard features including Sony stereo with sat nav and DAB, climate control, cruise control, keyless go, automatic wipers and headlights, folding door mirrors with puddle lights, even auto-dip rear view mirrors. Goodness, it’s better equipped than our Skoda Octavia vRS Estate long-termer, yet still costs well under £20k.

It feels like a high tech, high end model inside. The first few minutes within it are a feast of surprise and delight discovery. Remember, this is a Fiesta, the nation’s best-selling car – a fantastic car but not one that necessarily sets out to offer Audi-like gadgetry. But it’s all there: a waterfall of features that make it more junior executive than hot hatch.

Jump from a mid-spec BMW 3 Series into this and you’d find you were lacking nothing. There’s perhaps even a few things on here you don’t get on the BMW… and Ford’s done this for good reason.

Why has Ford launched the Fiesta ST3?

Ford has launched the ST3 variant after sales of the ST showed one clear trend: customers were happy to spend more. Over 9 in 10 sales of the two-model ST and ST2 range were of the more expensive version, and many of those had options added on.

By launching the ST3, Ford is thus creating the car similar to that many people were buying anyway – and standardsing some of the features chosen as options means it probably costs less than some were paying anyway. We thus expect the ST3 to sell rather well, perhaps even becoming the best-selling ST variant of all.

It’s thus with interest that we’ll be testing the Fiesta ST3 this week. It has every potential to be one of the most appealing all-rounders on sale, and thus one of the best cars you can buy. Does that sound like an exaggeration? Not at all: we’re writing after driving it into the office, and thus experiencing perhaps the best bit of all about the Fiesta ST – the way it drives…