Buying a subcompact car for its fuel economy is a rational decision, but with the 2014 Ford Fiesta ST, you can actually use that as cover for buying what is in essence a really fun car to drive. With its 1.6-liter direct injected 4-cylinder engine coupled to a smooth shifting 6-speed manual gearbox, the Fiesta ST delivers combined 29 mpg on 26 city and 35 highway, according to the EPA.

But those figures belie the fun that's to be had from rowing the 6-speed yourself. The 2014 Ford Fiesta ST is tightly screwed together and that body integrity transfers to the solid suspension underpinning this 5-door hatch. What you get is a car that is direct in its steering feel, precise in its handling and with its 197 horsepower and 202 lb-ft of torque, zippy in and out of traffic. Ford boasts that this ST version has more power than the Mini Cooper S and it feels it.

Handsome hatchback

The Fiesta ST has good looks, with a large aggressive grille opening, side rocker extensions and a spoiler mounted atop the rear hatch. Inside, the form fitting front buckets are trimmed handsomely in cloth and there's leather on the steering wheel. The interior has an upscale look and the center stack has a touch screen with traditional buttons below for the climate control. The MyFord Touch system continues to be refined and while some of the haptic controls are still a little touchy, the voice command system makes it easy to program destinations on the nav or summon up phone calls on the fly.

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The rear seating on the Fiesta is a bit tight and luggage room is at a premium, but let's face it, this is a small city car that has the benefit of fitting into small spaces, while equally capable of confidently keeping up with traffic at highway speeds. And when the road bends, it will clearly bring a smile to your face with its responsiveness. Drop it down a gear or two and a low, rumbly growl that would sound good on a Mustang comes out of the exhaust.

However, if you're expecting a small sticker for such a diminutive ride, you might be in for a bit of start. The base price starts at $21,400, a good 5 grand higher that most econoboxes, but for the money you get tremendous performance, the touchscreen, leather wrapped steering and shift knob, automatic climate control and all the appearance bits that make the ST look more muscular than the standard Fiesta. Our test car added nav for $795 and 17-inch premium wheels ($375) for a total of $24,995 including destination. While 25 large may seem like a lot, the sheer performance in the 2014 Ford Fiesta ST coupled with its fuel economy makes it an attractive all around value.

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