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Ford wants the next-generation Fiesta ST to turn the fun factor way up

Ford recently introduced a comprehensively revised Fiesta, but news about the performance-oriented ST model was conspicuously absent. As it turns out, the next Fiesta ST is still about a year away from making its debut.

The wait will be worth it, according to insiders. The ST will get the same face-lift as the other Fiesta variants, and it will receive a more aggressive-looking body kit in a bid to stand out from the newly launched ST-Line model (pictured) that’s more show than go. Both two- and four-door models will again be offered.

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The Blue Oval won’t stray too much from the formula that has made the current ST one of the best-driving hot hatches on the market. The revised model will likely carry on with a turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine, but it will be tuned to develop more than the 182 horses it generates under the hood of the current model. It’s unlikely to break the 200-horsepower barrier, however, and engineers say it doesn’t need to.

“More fun doesn’t always mean more power,” affirmed Tyrone Johnson, the engineer in charge of developing Ford Performance’s ST and RS models, in an interview with Dutch publication AutoRAI. “The current Fiesta ST is not the most powerful car in its class, but it’s certainly one of the best to drive. That’s what we want to achieve. Our objective is to build the funnest, best-handling car in the segment.”

Johnson hinted the ST will borrow some features from the Focus RS, though buyers hoping to see a four-wheel drive Fiesta with a drift mode will be disappointed. Ford’s smallest hot hatch is expected to receive three of the RS’ four driver-selectable driving modes. Each mode will modify parameters such as the response of the steering and the throttle and the firmness of the suspension.

A full-blown Fiesta RS isn’t currently in the pipeline, though that doesn’t mean it won’t happen in the long term.

“Ultimately, it comes down to making money and setting priorities. The Focus RS was more important to develop than a Fiesta RS,” explained Joe Bakaj, Ford of Europe’s vice president of product development. “In the future, never say never,” he added.

The next Fiesta ST will be introduced in late 2017, and production is scheduled to kick off in early 2018. For us, that means there’s a good chance it won’t arrive in showrooms until the 2019 model year.