I woke up this morning with a sudden realisation, the Fiesta ST. A class leader indeed in every respect of what it offers for the money. But as someone turned round to me not long ago and told me to stop recommending them to people. And quite right, they are everywhere. No matter what street in the UK you are on, there will be a Fiesta ST on it. Every car meet, show or event; an onslaught of them arrive. Few of them different, but most with the same off the shelf custom bits you can get online. This makes shows for me less appealing than ever. Im not complaining at Ford’s success of the MK7 Fiesta ST. There was a 6 month waiting list on its arrival back in 2014. Unheard of for a mass produced car. You could have ordered a Porsche 911 and have had it from Stuttgart to Stirling in less time. Ford panicked and ended up having to produce an extra 15% of them at their production plant in Cologne, Germany to meet demand. 3000 were planned to be built in the first year, eventually being 5000. 56% of orders were from UK dealers which is no surprise. So what am I getting at here? Well, having recommended them to 9 people who did eventually go out and buy one. To me personally who nearly ended up buying one 3 times but never bit the bullet cause I need space. People need to look elsewhere. When you walk into a carpark, open your eyes and count more of one car model than fingers you have, you know theres an issue. The used Fiesta market has peaked due to this sudden realisation. Especially amongst the age group of 18-26 year olds. So what are people buying instead? From what I’ve seen its the Polo GTI. Which I think is a rather poor option entirely. It doesn’t drive as well as its peers and with DSG its hopelessly unreliable, Mechatronics ring a bell? A fine little cruising hatch with decent pace. But you’re not buying a Hot Hatch for that. You’re buying it for the way you can chuck it down a B road and enjoy what it gives back performance and feel wise. If you want a cruiser. Just buy a Polo Match with an oil burner.
With the Polo out and the Fiesta being the main issue. What can I recommend someone? There’s only really one option and its a car I have never driven, due to the fact I know nobody has one (due to it being a 20k car when it was new) Its faster than an ST in the 0-60 sprint (and thats important to most 18 to 26 year olds) a car that will make you money if you get the right model and keep it for 3-4 years. Despite not driving one, I know people who have and the report is good and I can comment faithfully about it having picked a couple of people’s brains on them for a good half an hour. The Peugeot 208 GTI. Now before everyone gets it into their heads that you if you buy one; you will see bits lying underneath it after a week of ownership and it wont start in the morning. The 208 is a very well made car, be it a 3 pot model up to the GTI. You just need to have a sit in one and a poke about to realise its just as well made, if not better than an ST. The whole French reliability sour cream was rightfully consumed in the 90’s. Nobody should be raking for leftovers now. So whats it like? Well it depends what model you go for. Theres only 2 I would recommend. And those are the 2 I have been told about. The 30th anniversary model or the Peugeot Sport model. Essentially the same car, expect ones a little more limited. If you hadn’t guessed. the 30th anniversary one. You get slightly lowered Bilstein’s. An LSD and 208 BHP from its forged 1.6 that comes straight out the RCZ-R. Basically exactly the same as the Peugeot Sport one. What’s it like to drive? Superb from the 2 mouths of reference. Turn in is sharp and with the LSD very grippy and transforms the car over the normal 208 GTI. The pace you can achieve is spectacular and the whole feeling of balance with your right foot can be exploited. The rides superb when you’re wanting to just get to work and the spring rate has been judged superbly. Any downsides. Well, apparently torque steer is an issue. Something the ST doesn’t suffer from. The steering and pedal harmony isn’t as good as the ST either. Steering feel, or rather a lack of, is a slight issue. But its sharp enough to match the ST. In other words, the controls feel only slightly more tuned up rather than radically different over a normal 208. Above all though. Off the line, ST’s will be a little behind. Its weight advantage will also make it feel a lot faster too. I wish I could tell you more about how this car drives. I really could.
For the boring stuff. The boot is smaller. Expect .2 less MPG on a long run than an ST… thats about it. Leg room in the back is just as generous.
Above all, there seems to be a definite excitement factor about the way the Peugeot goes. not 205 like. But nothing is these days. If it was I would be ignoring the ST comparison all together and telling you to buy a 208 no matter how popular they got. They also seem tuneable to a very high degree. 400 BHP is no laughing matter and with a little less arse’ing about; can be easier to achieve than it would be a fiesta ST. I need to have a shot of one myself. But myself doing that will start giving me an itch to own one. If it was me, 205. But I understand airbags keep insurance low. And thats where the Peugeot is also a winner. With there being less about and less being stolen. Expect cheaper monthly instalments.
Just remember. Its (much) rarer, its cheaper, Its faster. And it will never lose its value. And thats all that matters when your 18-26. Trust me.
By Clarke Mackinnon