Shortly after its introduction in late 1964, the Ford Mustang quickly established itself as a popular option for racing enthusiasts and thrill-seekers alike. Throughout its 50-plus years of production, the Mustang has constantly evolved to deliver the latest in performance and multi-purpose driving capabilities to its passionate fan base across the globe.
In order to stay on the cutting edge of societal evolution, shortly before the genesis of the Mustang's sixth generation, the Ford Motor Company looked to parlay the success of the Mustang with the overwhelming popularity of European hatchbacks to create a not-too-distant cousin to the pony car.
After years of careful planning and execution, in the spring of 2012, Ford introduced not one, but two super-fun, hot hatches: The Ford Focus ST and the Fiesta ST. Though these are similar to the non-ST versions of the Focus and Fiesta, there's enough going on with this package to make it worthwhile to investigate the differences between the two ST packages more carefully.
Viewed by many as a more practical alternative to a Mustang, the Focus ST soon became a fixture at autocross events and in other performance driving circuits. Similarly, American drivers marveled at how much power the Fiesta ST could put down, despite being labeled a "supermini."
They say good things come in pairs, and both the Focus ST and Fiesta ST have been battling for the love and adoration of American automotive fans since the dawn of the 2013 model year. As passionate as both Focus ST and Fiesta ST owners are, the truth is that these two vehicles have much more in common than not.
Along with their similar exterior designs, both American-made hatchbacks are powered by ultra-efficient EcoBoost engines and are deceivingly powerful given their respective physical statures. Both the Focus ST and Fiesta STs contain six-speed manual transmissions and feature 60-0 braking distances of 120 feet. Additionally, both turbocharged hot hatches offer overboost functions and have their own torque vectoring systems.
In short, both the Focus ST and Fiesta ST are a blast to drive and give you plenty of bang for your buck.
Despite the striking similarities, however, there are a number of notable differences between the two hatchbacks. Though you will undoubtedly love both of them and most of the discrepancies are rather small, there are enough talking points to make you weigh your options before you decide to purchase one of these vehicles.
We've already covered what unites the two of them, so let's dive deeper into the differences between the Ford Focus ST and Fiesta ST.
Focus ST vs Fiesta ST Performance Stats
|Quarter Mile Time
||30 Hwy MPG
||33 Hwy MPG
Focus ST vs Fiesta ST Engine
As you can see in the table above, both the 1.6L and 2.0L EcoBoost engines allow the Focus ST and Fiesta ST to put down an incredible amount of horsepower and torque, given the respective sizes of the two hatchbacks. The larger and "older brother" Focus ST wins the horsepower and torque competitions by 55 and 68, respectively. The results should not be too surprising given the difference in engine sizes but still is worth pointing out as you continue to weigh your options.
In addition to having the larger motor, the Focus ST leaves the factory with a K03 turbocharger that allows you to increase the boost even higher if you so choose. In contrast, while powerful, the KP39 turbocharger under the hood of the Fiesta ST is pretty close to the limit as far as future adjustments go as soon as it rolls off the assembly line. Based on what it is already sporting and the aftermarket upgrades available, we will give a slight edge to the Ford Focus ST in the power category.
While it is not as fast as its hot hatch counterpart, the Fiesta ST packs a powerful punch in its own right. Paired with the 1.6L EcoBoost engine, the K939 turbocharger produces between 16 and 19psi of boost, which allows the supermini to trot out an impressive amount of boost while operating at a low RPM. Additionally, the Fiesta ST is built with innovative suspension and steering systems that are designed for quick maneuvering and heavy cornering, which pays dividends on the autocross course, as well as winding through traffic on the city streets.
The Ford Fiesta ST also can save you some pain at the pump by achieving 26 MPG through town and close to 33 on the interstate. Being able to churn out nearly 200 horsepower on command, while still being fuel-efficient is pretty impressive.
The size difference between the two hatchbacks is well-documented, but bigger doesn't always mean better. Since it weighs roughly 500 pounds less than its elder sibling, some of its power disadvantages are offset by the reduction in overall mass, which enables the Fiesta ST to feel nearly equal to the Focus ST in terms of speed.
Both the Ford Focus ST and Fiesta ST are reasonably priced, but the Fiesta costs over $3,000 less, so the supermini can deliver similar performance results to the Focus at a much better deal.
Focus ST vs Fiesta ST Interior
Because the inner cabin is where you will spend your time while you are cruising down the highway or navigating through cones on the autocross course, it is important to note the interior differences between the Focus ST and Fiesta ST.
As is the case with the rest of the vehicle, the Focus ST and Fiesta’s interiors look relatively similar on the surface, but with the difference in size, it is important to compare and contrast the inner cabins when it comes time to invest in a new hot hatch.
Whether you use your hatchback as a daily driver or as strictly a performance driving machine, we have broken down the differences and measurements of the two interiors to help you best decide between the Ford Focus ST and the Fiesta ST.
Focus ST vs Fiesta ST Interior Dimensions
|Front Hip Room
|Front Shoulder Room
||90.7 cubic feet
||85.1 cubic feet
|Cargo Volume w/ Rear Seat Up
||23.8 cubic feet
||10.1 cubic feet
|Cargo Volume w/Rear Seat Down
||44.8 cubic feet
||25.4 cubic feet
What It All Means
Obviously, if you have a large family and if you routinely enjoy long weekend road trips, then you would be better off investing in a larger vehicle. Both the Focus ST and Fiesta ST sport similar interior measurements, with two pretty significant differences. The Focus ST has a much larger cargo capacity, meaning that if you must stock up on a year's supply of toilet paper and bottled water, you would be best served making your Costco runs in a Ford Focus ST.
Similarly, the rear seating area in the Focus ST is far more spacious than that of the Fiesta ST, giving the rear passengers over 50mm more legroom. Access to the rear of the vehicle is also a net-positive for the Focus ST in some instances. All Focus STs have five-doors while some Fiestas are only three-door options, which can be an inconvenience at times.
The increased legroom for the cargo and the passengers, as well as the larger center console, gives the slight edge to the Focus ST in terms of interior comfort, but let's be honest, neither hot hatch is ever going to be confused with family sedans or other vehicles in that genre.
Focus ST vs Fiesta ST Quick Facts
With the original Ford hot hatch coming in larger than its supermini brother, there are a host of other differences between the Focus ST and Fiesta ST that you will notice when evaluating the vehicles' exterior.
The Focus ST sports 18” x 7” wheels in the front and back, while the Fiesta is sitting on 17 x 7s all around.
The Focus ST has five-lug wheels, while the Fiesta ST has four lugs, meaning that there are less aftermarket wheel options for the latter.
The Focus ST has a wheelbase of 104.3”, while the Fiesta ST counters with a 98” wheelbase.
The Focus ST has several additional color options that the Fiesta does not, such as Tangerine
Scream, Deep Impact Blue, and Panther Black among others.
The Fiesta ST has an estate model, which is a larger alternative to the hatchback edition.
Focus ST vs Fiesta ST Conclusion
So, which is better? The Focus ST or Fiesta ST? That all depends on what you are looking for! If added size is the most important thing to you, then you would be a great candidate for a new Focus ST.
Because of its size, the Ford Focus ST features a wider turning radius than its smaller alternative, which you will certainly be thankful for at your next autocross event. Overall, the Focus ST remains flat and stoic during cornering and its overall ride quality is hard to top.
In contrast, while it does not feature as much cargo room or as many aftermarket wheel options, the crafty and nimble Fiesta ST sports a remarkable power-to-weight ratio, giving the vehicle an almost go-kart-like feel.
Because the Fiesta ST is so much fun, you will barely be able to tell that you are driving at lower speeds than that of the Focus ST. The reduction in bulk makes the Fiesta ST extremely agile, which leads to a driving experience which few road cars can match. While it cannot offer the same performance benefits as the Focus can, the Fiesta is several thousand dollars cheaper, so if the cost is an important factor in your decision than the Fiesta ST would be your best bet.
Despite the subtle and not-so-subtle differences between the Focus ST and Fiesta ST, performance driving enthusiasts love them both, and you honestly cannot go wrong with either one!