Same bang, more bucks

Mercury (Hobart) - Motoring - - NEWS - JOSHUA DOWL­ING NA­TIONAL MO­TOR­ING ED­I­TOR joshua.dowl­ing@news.com.au

ONE of the most awarded hot hatches on the planet, the Ford Fi­esta ST, is about to get a price hike.

The “Bang For Bucks” win­ner’s su­per sharp start­ing price of $25,990 plus on-road costs will be in­creased by $1500 to $27,490 from Septem­ber 2016. The price of metal­lic paint has also gone up, to $450 (from $385).

Ford says the higher RRP cov­ers the ad­di­tion of built-in nav­i­ga­tion, a rear view cam­era, a high res­o­lu­tion dis­play screen, il­lu­mi­nated scuff plates in the door open­ings, red paint on the brake calipers and char­coal-painted wheels.

Un­for­tu­nately, there is no more power for the up­dated Fi­esta ST’s 1.6-litre turbo four, even though a spe­cial edi­tion with more grunt and a sharper chas­sis — called the ST200 — is about to go on sale in Europe.

Even though the Fi­esta ST has ex­ceeded sales ex­pec­ta­tions Down Un­der — more than 1200 sold since 2013, with 2015 ac­count­ing for the big­gest tally — Ford Aus­tralia did not put its hand up for some of the 1600 limited edi­tion mod­els to be sold in Europe.

Ford also at­trib­uted some of the Fi­esta ST’s price rise to cur­rency fluc­tu­a­tions (the per­for­mance model is made in Ger­many rather than Thai­land), even though the Aus­tralian ex­change rate with the euro hasn’t shifted dra­mat­i­cally in that time.

Ford de­fended the price rise by point­ing out the Fi­esta ST’s new RRP is the same as the VW Polo (which is more pow­er­ful, faster and has more doors than the three-door Fi­esta ST) and still un­der­cuts the Peu­geot 208 GTI and Re­nault Clio RS.

Im­por­tantly, the price rise does not ap­ply to Ford Fi­esta ST mod­els still in dealer stock. They re­main $25,990 plus on­road costs.

The price rise is a bold move for a car near­ing the end of its model life. Most cars usu­ally hit dis­count mode as a full model change ap­proaches.

But Ford has been able to buck this trend be­cause the Fi­esta ST has been lauded by crit­ics the world over for its ra­zor sharp han­dling, flex­i­ble turbo power de­liv­ery and funto-drive re­spon­sive­ness.

While Ford has ruled out an even hot­ter “RS” ver­sion of the Fi­esta (the Fo­cus RS is due in Aus­tralian show­rooms mid year), Cars­guide un­der­stands work has al­ready com­menced on the next gen­er­a­tion Fi­esta ST.

How­ever, it is at least two to three years away from lo­cal show­rooms — and there is likely to be a black­out on Fi­esta ST avail­abil­ity once pro­duc­tion of the cur­rent gen­er­a­tion Fi­esta range ends in the next 12 months or so.

The cur­rent gen­er­a­tion Fi­esta fam­ily has been in pro­duc­tion since 2008. Given that most cars have a model life of five to six years, the Fi­esta is way over­due for re­newal.

The next gen­er­a­tion car is due to be un­veiled late this year or early next.

The up­dated end-of-the-line Fi­esta ST due in Septem­ber may only be in show­rooms for a year or so.

Once pro­duc­tion of the next gen­er­a­tion car ramps up, the cur­rent Fi­esta ST is ex­pected to be dis­con­tin­ued.

As is the case with most per­for­mance vari­ants, the next gen­er­a­tion Fi­esta ST will likely join the rest of the new range about two years af­ter the show­room ar­rivals of the reg­u­lar mod­els, in late 2018 or early 2019.

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