The Fiesta ST’s engine is also not the reason you buy the car, but it is full of energy. It eggs you on to work it hard, and it’s a little more sensitive on the throttle than the Hyundai if you put it in Race mode, but both of these cars allow for precise metering of the power on offer.
As for the practicality of these cars? Well, how much stuff you can get in your dinky hot hatch is unlikely to be a headline consideration, but real life always demands some concessions, otherwise we would all be driving Porsche 911 GT3s. So if you do have kids to worry about, the Hyundai has a bit more space for people in the back and things in the boot. Indeed, it’s actually one of the most practical small cars. It also has the bigger, glossier and more logical touchscreen infotainment system.
The Fiesta ST isn’t without practical merits, though. Its Recaro seats are more comfortable than the Hyundai’s, particularly on a long slog, and keep you a touch more firmly in place while you’re flinging yourself about the countryside.
In short, both of these hot hatches are strikingly brilliant for whizzy kicks on a good road, with ease of use, loads of comfort and safety kit and very reasonable running costs all there to make daily life convenient. I would add that all of this stands for the Fiesta ST-3 that’s closest to the i20 N, too, even if the upgrades brought by the ST Edition are worth the extra cash in my book.
The fact that these rivals have such different characters, from the i20 N’s overt machismo to the Fiesta ST’s more subtle playfulness, is only to their credit. But while it’s easy and correct to say that both are illuminatingly brilliant, we’re giving the nod to the Ford. It wins by such a tiny margin that even a half-star difference feels too much like overstating it, but it’s ultimately still peerless for depth of handling adjustability.