Winner: 2014 Ford Fiesta ST
This is weird, and frankly, unexpected. Who’d have thunk that a Ford Fiesta would be able to out-fun the Mini Cooper S, a perennial favorite among budget conscious thrill-seekers? Well, first of all, the Fiesta ST is no ordinary Fiesta, but rather a bargain screamer, with a thrilling turbocharged engine, racy five-door body, slot-car handling and gorgeous steering. Its bumpy ride and notchy six-speed manual are perfectly in character with its playful purpose, and like a Mazda Miata and the Jeep Wrangler — two longstanding gay faves — it doesn’t take itself too seriously.
The all-new Cooper S, on the other hand, has turned into a mini-BMW (pun not intended) in this third generation model. It’s larger in every dimension, a bit quicker, has infinitely better interior materials, more available technology features and longstanding brand cache. So why did it lose? Cuz when it comes to having fun in your car — no, not that kind of fun — quietness, ride comfort, and velvety steering can have a buzz-killing effect.
Then there’s the price: Fiesta ST is pretty well stacked equipped under $24,000, which is, incidentally, the Cooper S’s base price; indeed you can spec out a Cooper S up over $30,000 without much trouble. Frankly, both of these cars are really, really enjoyable, but it’s the Fiesta ST that truly brings life to the party.
(PS: for what it’s worth, if you really want to have that kind of fun in the car, the Fiesta ST has more space. Wink)
Renowned automotive journalist and gay car geek Steve Siler has turned his life-long love of cars into an enthusiastic career traveling the world to report on new automobiles as they are introduced. Siler pioneered automotive writing for the LGBT community in the late 1990s and is a regular contributor to Car and Driver Magazine, AutoTrader.com, AOL Autos, Yahoo! Autos, and the New York Daily News. You can follow his musings @silerroad on Twitter.