Here's two brilliant rivals to the mighty Ford Fiesta ST
Close your eyes and think of a super mini hot-hatchback. That's right, you probably pictured the Ford Fiesta ST, which is arguably the best in the class. But is it really?
The Fiesta ST is a very common sight on the roads, so why not be different and go for an underdog instead. Here's two great options:
1. Peugeot 208 GTi Prestige
Good looking, but the exhaust is a little disappointing
The 208 GTi comes in two variants, the Prestige and the Peugeot Sport, with the later being a more track-focused, raw hot-hatchback that comes with a limited slip differential, better brakes and stiffer suspension. The Prestige is a more refined experience that comes with heated sports seats and a beautiful panoramic sunroof, giving you the best of both worlds.
In terms of engine power, this particular model that we tested was a 2014 spec and produced 200 PS, giving it a 0-60 time of 6.8 seconds and a top speed of 143 MPH. The beating heart of the 208 GTi is a turbocharged 1.6L THP engine. Newer 208 GTis now churn out 208 PS (see what they did there) - this shaves around 0.3 seconds off the 0-60 sprint time to bring it in line with the Fiesta ST.
Driving in the little Pug is fun and very rewarding. The engine feels eager and revs freely, but the exhaust note is disappointingly quiet. That being said, there's enough sound to give the driver feedback and excitement as the gears are worked up and down along a country lane. This engaging drive is further reinforced by the use of a firm set of springs that help keep the car stuck onto the road as it tackles a corner. Obviously, this is great when driving the car hard, however, this soon becomes quite tiresome on a bumpy road at normal speeds, which is where the Fiesta ST falls short too.
Practicality is good too. The 285 litre boot is more than capable of taking a couple of large suitcases, plus there's plenty of space in the door bins to store items such as small bottles. It's not all good though, the 208 GTi suffers with a lack of adequate cup holders, which could be very problematic, especially for commuters.
very fun to drive and has a great, logical cabin layout
2. Mini Cooper S F56
The Mini Cooper S is a trim level that's present across Mini's range. This particular Cooper S is a 3 door hatch and has the John Cooper Works (JCW) Aerodynamic Body Kit fitted. This gives the car a bigger set of wheels, wider front a rear bumpers, flared side skirts and a roof spoiler. This kit is an optional extra but it's a must have to make the car look more aggressive and less cute.
A 2.0L TwinPower Turbocharged engine that produces 192 PS and gives the Cooper S a 0-60 time of 6.7 seconds with the automatic gearbox, or it's an additional 0.1 seconds slower with the manual six-speed gearbox. The top speed of the Cooper S is 146 MPH. Although it has less power than the Fiesta, the bigger engine manages to put its grunt down much easier and at lower revs. With that being said, an extra 10-30 horsepower wouldn't go a miss in this. Motorway overtaking in this car is effortless, whereas the Ford requires a little more gear work to get the best out of its tiny three-cylinder 1.5L engine at cruising speeds.
Pops and bangs are a must-have in a hot-hatch
The Cooper S is rewarding and engaging to drive at all speeds. It's a car that you cannot help but smile whilst driving. The suspension is quite soft and there's a slight bit of body roll if you take a corner at speed, but this isn't a bad thing. It feels incredibly fun out on a twisty road and it glues to the tarmac remarkably well. In sport mode, the Cooper S will make you giggle like a child, especially if you squeeze the throttle hard and come off it to make the exhaust pop and bang.
But it's not the most practical hatchback. In fact, it's probably the worst in the class for boot space. The Cooper S has a tiny 211 litre boot that can just about fit two small cabin cases in. If you're holidaying, the two rear seats can fold completely flat if more space is required. The front of the cabin is spacious and the glove box is a decent size. There's five cup holders dotted around the car for the driver and passengers. Storage in the centre console is half decent too, there's enough space to store a mobile phone, wallet and a few other little bits. The Mini falls short with a set of tiny door bins that struggle to fit anything bigger than a banana inside.
Smile-inducing exhaust with a superior cabin to the Fiesta
So there you have it, two very different yet very worthy rivals to the Fiesta ST. Both unique in their own way. Both are just as quick in the real world and both are just as capable. But which one would you have and why?
What are your thoughts? Let me know in the comments
Many thanks to our friend Kieran for lending us his gorgeous Peugeot 208 GTi. Check out his YouTube channel here: