Turo: 2016 Ford Fiesta ST

My second Turo experience, this time in snowy Detroit. The owner was actually a Ford engineer in Dearborn, so this really was all in the American automotive family.

The Ford Fiesta ST (aka FiST) is much beloved among car cognoscenti as a sporty-yet-practical "hot hatch." No, really, car people love this car. Basically, Ford took their basic Fiesta econobox, put a turbocharged, 200 hp, 4-cylinder in it, tuned the suspension, put in a 6-speed manual, made it look more angry, and built the world's most beloved entry level performance hatchback (yes, I know, the VW GTI is the king of this category, but it's more expensive). So, when I saw that it was available on Turo (in the 6 speed manual, of course), I figured that would be a fun weekend car in Detroit.

Of course, I wasn't planning on snow. A lot of snow. Most of it melted quickly, but it was falling in big, wet flakes (and then hail) for much of the weekend. God bless the enthusiast owner, who had snow tires on the car already.

The snow meant I didn't really get much of a chance to explore the performance side of the car. But I liked it nonetheless. The handling is twitchy, in a good way. You have to actually pay attention and drive the car -- it's not boring. It's small enough to be toss-able, but not so small that you worry about SUVs backing into you. No noticeable turbo lag in regular street driving, but you'll notice it if you do a long pull in second or third gear. Not unpleasant at all (but not nearly as dramatic as my 911 Turbo). The electrically assisted steering is good, but still feels relatively detached from the road when compared to the hydraulically assisted steering of years gone by. And, since this is a front-wheel drive vehicle, there is a little torque steer when you lay into the gas while trying to do any kind of turning. But these are minor quibbles. This is a lot of street-accessible performance and fun, for not a lot of money ($20k new). In the words of Jalopnik: "If it’s more fun to drive a slow car fast than a fast car slow, this is the fastest slow car you can buy. The Fiesta ST is a car you can fling around corners with abandon and still stay within the limits of the car and the law."

All-in-all, this is a much more engaging drive than my (automatic) 2010 Honda Fit. It is, however, quite a bit less roomy, as the rear seats don't fold down very efficiently (compared to Honda's "magic seat", which is  a miraculous bit of engineering). No way I'd be able to fit a Newfoundland in the back of the FiST, whereas I could easily fit two of them in the Fit. So, measured that way, the Fit still wins.


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