Ford’s focus shifts away from hot hatches, retiring Fiesta ST and Focus ST

Craig Duff

Posted August 11, 2022

The Fiesta ST and Focus ST are unwitting victims of semiconductor shortages and Ford Australia’s move to concentrate on growth segments such as SUVs and electric vehicles.

Ford says it will still have limited numbers of the hot hatches still appearing in dealerships, with 40 Focus ST vehicles due to arrive soon without an existing buyer.

The Ford Focus ST is one of the most powerful mainstream hot hatches on sale. It’s 2.3-litre four-cylinder turbo engine develops 206kW and 420Nm, sent to the front wheels by either a six-speed manual gearbox or seven-speed automatic.

The Fiesta ST is a performance heavyweight in the light car segment, using a 1.5-litre three-cylinder turbo engine to deliver an entertaining 147kW/320Nm.

Ford Australia chief executive officer, Andrew Birkic, describes the duo as “segment-defining hot hatches” (no surprise given the Fiesta ST can trace its lineage back to the Fiesta XR2 of 1981).

“But with semi-conductor-related supply shortages and our focus on emerging areas of growth, we’ve made the difficult decision to call time on these iconic hot hatches in Australia. We look forward to sharing more about the next era of our performance vehicle line-up soon,” Birkic said.

Ford already has the country’s top-selling sports car in the form of the Mustang and details on the new model are expected in the coming weeks. The company is also touting the performance prowess of the soon-to-launch Ranger Raptor four-door ute.

The demise of the Ford Fiesta and Focus leaves local hot hatch enthusiasts with just a handful of choices.

A green Ford Focus ST on a track.

Ford Australia says it has 40 unallocated Focus STs arriving soon.

Light hatches

The light hatch segment is light-on for hot-hatch choice, but this trio represent the best of breed.

Hyundai i20N

Hyundai launched into the hot hatch market with this baby hatch and made such an impression the company has had to “pause” orders on the vehicle.

Power comes from a 1.6-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine that sends 150kW/275Nm to the front wheels using a six-speed manual gearbox.

The sprint time is a claimed 6.2 seconds and it’s priced accordingly at $32,990 plus on-road costs.

For a full review of the Hyundai i20N, click here.

Volkswagen Polo GTI

The Polo GTI has been a light hatch performance staple since 1995 and the latest iteration doesn’t disappoint.

Power is derived from a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine developing 147kW/320Nm.

The Polo stands out in this segment by using a standard six-speed automatic transmission as opposed to a manual gearbox.

The little VW is priced at $38,750 plus on-road costs.

Toyota Yaris GR

When Toyota affixes a GR badge on a car, it’s generally good. The Yaris is no exception.

This is the quickest of the light hot hatch brigade, with a claimed trip to 100km/h taking just 5.2 seconds, courtesy of a 1.6-litre three-cylinder engine pumping out 200kW and 370Nm.

Unlike the other cars in this class, it delivers driver to all four wheels using a six-speed manual gearbox (an eight-speed auto is in development).

Prices start at $49,500, though there’s an even more manic Ralleye version that will cost $54,500 plus fees.


A red Toyota Yaris GR on the track.

Toyota's Yaris GR Ralleye light hatch is the quickest in its class.

Compact hatches

The conventional battleground for hot hatches has a few options. Below are some of the stand-outs.

Renault Megane RS Trophy

You get what you pay for and in the case of the Renault Megane RS Trophy, you’re paying for a lot of car. Whether you’re paying for $62,300 worth of hatch, only prospective buyers can determine.

The layout is a front-wheel-drive, four-wheel steering hatch using a 1.8-litre turbo four-cylinder engine to crank out 221kW and 420Nm.

Buyers have a choice of six-gear manual or automatic transmissions.

Hyundai i30N

The compact i30N is hard to fault as a bang for your buck proposition. A 2.0-litre turbo four-cylinder engine drives 206kW/392Nm to the front wheels, using a six-speed manual or eight-speed auto.

The claimed 100km/h time for the auto is a head-turning 5.3 seconds, providing similar pace to Toyota’s Yaris GR with more room in the back and boot.

For a full review of the i30N, click here.

Volkswagen Golf GTI/R

VW double-dips in the compact hot hatch segment.

The GTI is the “affordable” and conventional model, using a 2.0-litre turbo four-cylinder engine with 180kW/370Nm to send power to the front wheels via a seven-speed automatic transmission. VW claims 6.4 seconds for the 100km/h sprint.

The all-wheel-drive Golf R employs a tuned version of the 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo with 235kW/400Nm, mated to a seven-speed auto.

That setup provides it with the ability to hit triple figures in just 4.8 seconds.

The Golf R launches at $65,990 before on-road costs.


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