ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Ford plans to bring the Fiesta ST to the United States from Europe before the end of summer, adding another performance subcompact to tangle with the likes of the Chevrolet Sonic RS, Fiat 500 Abarth, Hyundai Veloster Turbo, Mini Cooper S and Honda Civic Si.
The 2014 Fiesta ST -- with a 1.6-liter, 197-hp EcoBoost engine -- aims at young performance enthusiasts, but Ford hopes it can capture mainstream buyers too, says Jamal Hameedi, chief engineer of global performance vehicles.
Ford is confident the Fiesta ST's power, $22,195 base price, including shipping, and 35 highway mpg will attract consumers.
Hameedi says the car was engineered in Europe for global markets and that Ford was "almost fanatical" about ensuring that customers in markets such as the United States and China could get the car. He says Ford couldn't have afforded to re-engineer the European version for the United States.
"We've now got an awesome lineup," Hameedi said last week at a Fiesta ST media event here. "We can move them from a Fiesta ST to a Focus ST to a Mustang or even a truck one day. It's really a nice entry point for the young enthusiast."
Small car fashion
TrueCar analyst Jesse Toprak says small cars are fashionable, unlike in past years when they were nothing more than affordable options to bigger vehicles.
Toprak says subcompact performance models are halo cars that can create buzz and get people into showrooms, especially younger consumers who might be buying their first vehicles.
Toprak says the Fiesta ST nails the key elements for the segment with its fuel efficiency and fun-to-drive factor.
In a move that could please enthusiasts, Ford included a "sound symposer" in the Fiesta ST that fills the cabin with the most attractive engine noises, the company says. For an extra $1,995, consumers can get heated, partial-leather Recaro sports seats.
Toprak says automakers like the performance segment because its buyers tend to be "extremely vocal" and enjoy talking about their cars online.
"That's a lot of car for the money in terms of driving experience," says Toprak, who expects the Fiesta to sell well on both coasts.