Of course, the reason we’re talking about the Mk7 ST now is that the all-new, Mk8 model is on sale. It’s powered by a 1.5-litre three-cylinder turbocharged engine producing 194bhp, whereas its predecessor had a 1.6-litre turbo four-pot making 178bhp (or 194bhp in ST200 form), mated to a slick-shifting six-speed manual gearbox. Despite the harshest interrogation, tuners were full of praise for this old 1.6-litre engine.
Frankly, it was like asking them to pick holes in David Attenborough.
They all agreed, however, that over time, the high-pressure fuel pump cam bucket starts to wear. Other things to look for are detailed in the ‘Buyer beware’ section below, but for a car largely driven by youngsters, some of them with only half an eye on its regular maintenance, it’s not a bad record.
Tuners have their fingers crossed that the Mk8 is as reliable; as strong, too, since they claim that without internal strengthening, a healthy ST 1.6 engine will stand up to around 300bhp. In fact, Hendy Performance’s demo is putting out 345bhp without internal work, and on the standard clutch too.
Back to trim levels and a year after the ST-1 and ST-2 versions went on sale in 2013, the ST-3 arrived. This plugged the remaining gaps in the equipment list with keyless entry, sat-nav, cruise control, auto lights and wipers, and climate control. It cost only £1000 more than the ST-2 so was something of a bargain but, today, that premium has long since been eroded by time and mileage.
In 2015, the rear suspension was softened and a slightly thicker anti-roll bar fitted. A year later, the ST200 arrived. Producing 194bhp, this Mountune-equipped car (it uses Mountune’s MP215 performance pack enhanced by a shorter final drive ratio exclusive to the model) was a big deal in the ST’s life, certainly much bigger than the arrival of a five-door version of the ST later the same year. New, it cost £22,745 and, today, used prices start at £14,000.
But why pay that? As we hope we’ve demonstrated, around half that price buys almost as much fun.