Local hot hatch fans waiting eagerly for the new Ford Fiesta ST are in for a spot of disappointment: the local arm of the Blue Oval brand has confirmed that the Fiesta ST will not be coming to South Africa.
In a short statement issued to CARmag.co.za, Ford Motor Company of Southern Africa would say only: “The Fiesta ST will unfortunately not be coming to SA, due to our fuel quality”.
On the recent international launch of the new Focus, officials from the brand suggested to us that South Africa’s fuel would not be compatible with the petrol particulate filter fitted to the Fiesta ST’s 1,5-litre engine. Of course, to obtain approval under the upcoming Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure (WLTP) regulations, petrol vehicles must feature a gasoline particulate filter.
For the record, Ford has confirmed that it is currently developing next-generation version of its Focus ST and Focus RS, but it remains to be seen whether a similar issue will prevent these upcoming models from being launched in South Africa.
As a reminder, the Fiesta ST (which boasts selectable drive modes) is powered by a new turbocharged 1,5-litre three-cylinder engine delivering 147 kW and 290 N.m to the front wheels. Ford says it will complete the obligatory dash from standstill to 100 km/h in a claimed 6,5 seconds (and top out at 232 km/h), making it four-tenths quicker than the outgoing 1,6-litre model.
Interestingly, Renault South Africa in June confirmed to CARmag.co.za that would not be importing further examples of the Clio RS 200 Lux and Clio RS 220 Trophy derivatives once current dealer stock had run dry, effectively discontinuing the Clio RS (seeing as the special-edition Clio RS 18 is limited to just 65 units).
The light hot hatch segment in South Africa is thus not nearly as crowded as it once was, with the likes of the Opel Corsa OPC and Peugeot 208 GTi also having disappeared from local showrooms some time ago (even the Audi S1 is no longer offered here).
As it stands, the only hot hatches currently offered in the B-segment in South Africa are the new Volkswagen Polo GTI, the outgoing Ford Fiesta ST (for the time being, anyway) and the Mini Cooper S, although a case could be made to also include the Abarth 595 and perhaps the upcoming Suzuki Swift Sport, which is scheduled to arrive in the first quarter of 2019.
Ryan has spent most of his career in online media, writing about everything from sport to politics and other forms of crime. But his true passion – reignited by a 1971 Austin Mini Mk3 still tucked lifeless in a dark corner of his garage – is of the automotive variety.