The hot hatch market has become increasingly competitive. The Ford Fiesta ST has been a popular choice among drivers since the ST badge was first used for a slightly warmer than standard model way back in 2004. Back then, it was powered by a 150bhp 2.0-litre engine. Turn to 2012 for a new ST based on the Mk 7 Fiesta and powered by a 1.6 turbo engine that put out 178bhp with an overboost function for 197bhp. Dreams were made, but is the dream still alive in 2018?

The big change is a shift from a four-cylinder to a 1.5 triple. The new engine is based on Ford’s award winning 1.0-litre Ecoboost. It might have just three cylinders, but still delivers a surprising amount of oomph at 200bhp and 214lb.

It should be noted that there’s no overboost this time, so we are talking about peak power. At the same time, it’s still a high set of specs, especially considering the vehicle’s diminutive 3-door kerb weight of just 1262kg. Ford are projecting a healthy zero to 63 mph time of 6.5 seconds, which is marginally down from the ST200’s 6.7 seconds. Top speed is a similarly generous 144mph. Reviews tell us that it revs willingly and makes a better noise than the outgoing engine.

If you’re cruising at revs below 4500rpm, the engine even turns into a twin-cylinder using new cylinder cut-off technology. When you’re just cruising steadily, you should find yourself enjoying better efficiency ratings ever.

The steering is slightly stiff – a bit like the Ford Focus RS – but it’s still refreshingly direct, and all manner of mechanical adjustments and improvements have sharpened up handling considerably. You’ll also have the freedom to choose from three different driving modes: Normal, Sport, and Track.

Once you get inside you’ll find the driving position much improved – you’ll no longer feel like you’re sitting in a baby’s highchair during your commute.

The only problem? Well, anyone who’s taking a trip in the outgoing model knows the ride can be a little bone-jarring. Mechanical upgrades have softened it a little, but perhaps not quite enough. It’s not a deal-breaker, but you might find it hard to place your finger perfectly where you want it on the touchscreen.

Overall, the new Ford Fiesta continues to deliver excellent performance. It’s improved what makes the nameplate good, and it’s smoothed – if not entirely removed – some of its rougher edges.