Fiesta ST: First Canyon Run – What I Learned

In January 2017 I bought my 2015 Fiesta ST. Since I bought it I have been daily driving it and have attended a few canyon runs. My first canyon run was days after buying the car so I didn’t push the car very hard. My second canyon run was on the 89A in northern Arizona, but my girlfriend was in the passenger seat. Since she was in the car I once again didn’t push the car or myself very hard. Just recently I had an opportunity to really push the car on a canyon road, here’s what I learned.

Initial Impressions

Ford designed the Fiesta ST with one goal in mind: make it handle amazing. I’ve hit corners pretty darn hard before, but man does this little car handle great on a canyon road. I didn’t like transitioning from left to right very quickly. The body roll on those quick transitions made me really scared to push harder.

I was able to keep up with other cars which were mostly Focus ST and one Mustang GT. I really like how I could modulate the throttle mid-corner to get the car to rotate. At no point did I experience any understeer or unsafe amounts of oversteer. The Fiesta ST is just really planted feeling and it inspires a ton of confidence behind the wheel.

Tires/Brakes

I know a lot of “sporty” cars come with “meh” tires from the factory. In the case of the BRZ/FRS/86, they literally come with the same tires that the Prius uses. Ford, however, put pretty decent rubber under the Fiesta ST. The factory tires are 205/40 R17 Bridgestone RE050A. I knew before the canyon run that they’re, but I didn’t realize how good they actually are.

Straight away the tires were really grippy and didn’t make any squealing noise no matter how hard I pushed. After I warmed them up on the first downhill run they had even more grip. On the first uphill run, I was able to experience the full potential of these tires. Overall I was extremely impressed with the stock tires.

Although the factory brakes look small they are extremely powerful. This is mostly due to the super aggressive factory pads that subsequently will cover your wheels in brake dust. The brakes were amazing the entire canyon run, except for the last turn on the last run. I was wide open throttle up to about 90mph and hit the brakes a little late. I had to push the brake pedal pretty hard to slow down to a sufficient cornering speed. I’m still not sure if it was brake fade or if I hit the brakes later than I intended to.

Heat Soak

Unfortunately, the canyon run wasn’t without its issues. I knew beforehand that the stock intercooler and the Arizona heat didn’t mix very well. It was only 80* during the canyon run so I assumed the heat wouldn’t affect my car. On the second uphill run, I was trying to catch up to the group leader who was much further ahead. I eventually caught up right as we reached the summit of the canyon. We all stopped and hung out for a couple of minutes.

I was the first to take off after we decided to head back down the mountain, and immediately went full throttle. When the car reached 4k RPMs it completely cut power. I shifted into second and went full throttle again, only to have it cut out again at 4k RPM. I figured the intake temps were too high so I only went part throttle in third gear. After the first corner, I went full throttle again and the car revved all the way out like normal.

I’m not quite sure what caused this issue, but I have to assume it was heat soak. I was wide open throttle most of the uphill run, and then the car just sat still for a few minutes. I assume the stock intercooler became heat soaked, and that’s why it cut power.

Seats

I remember the first time I sat in a Fiesta ST. It was at the 2014 or 2015 Phoenix International Auto Show. I fit into the Recaro seats amazing, which surprised me since I’m pretty skinny. When I went to look at my 2015 Fiesta ST at the dealership I was a little upset because it didn’t have the Recaro seats. However, after my test drive I decided to I could live without the Recaro seats. I was mostly fine with my seats up until I went on this canyon run.

During this canyon run, I felt like I was flying around in my seat through every corner. This made it somewhat difficult to keep full pedal and wheel control which isn’t very bad. I will definitely be investing in some seats in the near future. I’m sure if I’ll try to score some factory Recaro seats, or just get some actual Recaro bucket seats.

Summary

Overall I am extremely impressed with how the little Fiesta ST performed. It didn’t even feel like a front wheel drive car even if I went full throttle exiting a corner. Honestly, I think the Fiesta ST might be one of the best handling production FWD cars ever. I did, however, find the limits of the stock intercooler. I also found out the stock non Recaro seats suck.

About Bryce Cleveland 234 Articles
Bryce founded Dust Runners Automotive Journal in 2014 as a way to write about the cars he found interesting. When he's not writing for Dust Runners he's writing for Power Automedia as a freelancer. He currently drives a 2015 Fiesta ST and absolutely loves it.

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