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Fiesta ST: What I Don’t Like

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Lately, I have been singing the praises for Ford, and my new 2016 Fiesta ST, and the reporting from the ‘honeymoon’ has been great. Well, the honeymoon phase has been dented: my first car payment has been paid, and with it, I feel it is appropriate to air the relatively slight grievances I have with the car this far into my ownership. Exactly 31 days and 2271 miles later, nothing stands out large enough to matter in my mind over the others, and as such, the following list is in no particular order whatsoever.

  1. The Locks

The first item on this list may seem like an odd one, and that is because it is. What started out as an oddity quickly became an annoyance. This ‘oddity’ is the fact that the Fiesta does not have any physical lock controls on the individual doors. The entire locking system for the car is controlled by either the key fob, or a single ‘all-or-nothing’ button on the dash below the stereo controls. The outside of the car does feature a lock cylinder on the driver’s side door, as well as a security button on either side that allow the person who possess the fob to lock or unlock the car, which is useful.

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Not a lock to be seen. This does mean arms can be hung out the window unobstructed.

2. Ambient Light System

The ambient light system my Fiesta ST is equipped with was a pleasant surprise, and I thoroughly enjoy the character it gives the car driving around at night. For those of my family who car nothing about the ‘ST-ness’ of the car, this is usually the most attention-grabbing feature of the car, as well, so the average person also enjoys it. That being said, it isn’t without it’s quirks. For the most part, out of the 8 or so colors to choose from, only two really work: red and blue. While such exciting colors as purple, green, and pink are available, they tend to clash with the blues and reds of the dials and climate controls. It is due to these controls that red and light blue tend to be the colors of choice for ST drivers.

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The button to control the ambient lighting system.

Another feature that is oddly lacking is the fact the ability to adjust the brightness of the ambient lighting is non-existent. Using the dimmer-switch for the dials and infotainment system does work as advertised, however the ambient lighting is left blaring away. You can turn it completely off, which is sometimes desirable, because the brightness of the cup holder lighting can cause glare off of the passenger window.

3. The Sync 3 Infotainment System

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The Sync screen.

At this point, it almost feels cliché to gripe about Ford’s Sync system. Saying that, I am pleased to say that my gripes are small ones. Quite literally in the case of the actual size of the screen: it is tiny. The Fiesta is a tiny car, and it is likely that the fitted screen is the largest which could be fitted (with the wheel properly adjusted, my knuckles go just below the level of the screen, not blocking view), however it is still tiny to my spectacled-eyes. Previous generation Fiesta’s were equipped with an even smaller screen, controlled by a buffet of buttons, so my complaints should be taken with that kept in mind. Continuing the trend of tiny things in tiny cars, the text on the screen is so small as to be unreadable in some instances. The most encountered by myself on a daily basis is the speed limit notification on the navigation screen and the home screen is so tiny as to be unreadable.

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Not an exact match for the Fiesta ST screen, but demonstrates the tiny MPH sign in the corner of the NAV screen.

Also encountered annoyingly often is the indecision faced by the screen. During inclement weather, which has been almost continuous, the day/night auto adjuster—which transitions from a bright, white background to a darker, black—is constantly flip-flopping. Driving under trees, overpasses, or even a particularly dark shadow cast by a semi-truck during grey weather can cause the screen to distractingly transition from day, to night mode. This causes the driver to go into the menus and pick either day or night, which only serves to act as a Band-Aid. Once the specific mode is chosen, the day/night transition is bypassed, however the brightness of the screen will continue to adjust.

4. The Sunroof

On a theoretical level, I am not a fan of sunroofs. They add weight up high, they encroach on headroom, and they add complication. On a practical level, however, I enjoy a properly engineered sunroof. Luckily, for the most part, the Fiesta ST’s sunroof qualifies as a properly engineered unit. Headroom is unaffected—and I am tall—and the weight is less-than-easy to notice. One annoying quirk of the sunroof does earn it a spot on this list: the open/close mechanism. There are two switches for the sunroof, one for fully opening and closing it, and another for going into what I call ‘shark mode’—the slight upwards vent. While having separate switches is annoying enough, the real annoyance comes from the fact that when fully opening the sunroof, it automatically opens. When it comes time to close the sunroof, the user has to keep their finger firmly planted, as it is not automatically closing. In the event of a surprise rain on a curvy road, this is less than endearing

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The sunroof controls.

5. The Unneeded ‘Sporty’ Dynamics

The Fiesta ST is a sporty variant of a small car, and Ford goes to certain lengths to drive this home, which some people may find annoying. Not all of the complaints listed in this section are from me, but I feel bear mentioning. The first is a common complaint for Ford Performance products: the bouncy suspension. The Fiesta ST’s suspension is by no means unbearable, however during normal driving it is easy to feel like it is bouncy simply for the sake of portraying stiffness and sportiness in the suspension. This is currently exacerbated for me, because with the bad weather mentioned before, my local roads have decided to start subsiding back into the Earth, creating vast potholes and bumpy surfaces.

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Even with torrential rain, the dust prevails.

Three more annoyances fall under the ‘sporty’ category, but are very small and as follows in short order: the already mentioned accelerator pedal, the brake dust, and the ‘sport mode’ banner. The accelerator pedal has been mostly fixed by me (stay tuned for the install and review article!), yet it must be mentioned that its original placement seemed to discourage fun driving, making heel-toe downshifts hard-to-impossible. The brakes on the Fiesta ST are surprisingly effective, yet drivers sacrifice the cleanliness of their calipers for this stopping power. The amount of brake dust is insane for a set of OEM pads, and is only exacerbated by selecting red calipers as an option (like I did). Lastly, putting the traction control in ‘sport mode’ (almost required for any amount of slightly spirited driving in the wet), forces a banner on the Sync screen, letting the driver know that they put the car in sport mode. While you can clear it by hitting cancel, or wait for it to disappear, it is simply too large a banner to not be annoying: a message atop the screen would have sufficed.

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Is that what I did?

6. The Handholding

The last set of annoyances pertains to the handholding ‘FoMoCo’ feels they have to force onto the drivers. The already-mentioned ‘sport mode’ banner is a clear case of handholding, assuming the driver was unsure of what the button did, or perhaps forgot immediately that they were in sport mode. Ford must assume its drivers are truly forgetful, because on top of that, when one has the car running and closes the door, there is an extraordinarily loud double honk from the car, letting you and all of your neighbors know that the car is still running. With keyless entry, the keys usually go with the driver, even in the event of having to quickly run somewhere while the car is on, meaning this honk is almost a certainty. A real-world example of how this can impact a driver’s day is the act of defrosting windows in the morning. Here, where windows almost certainly frost over, it is fairly common to go out and ‘warm up’ the car—less for the engine, and more for the ability to see. Doing this early in the morning forces Fiesta drivers to make a choice: leave the keys in the car (for me, this forces me to unclip them from their ‘spot’ on my person), or face a loud ‘double honk’, probably early in the morning.

This list is gratifyingly short, as well as small in scale in its content. For that I consider myself lucky, but if you are a Fiesta ST owner, and feel I missed something, comment down below and warn me. Throughout my time with the Fiesta, I will update the list with any new grievances (fingers crossed!).

Stephen Hyden View All

I recently recieved a degree in History from the University of Nevada, Reno.

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