The Ford Fiesta ST is our small hot hatch champ by a troublingly huge margin, it won last year’s contest and came within a whisker of taking top honours again this time round.
In contrast, the Mini Cooper S and Audi S1 have both been somewhat damned by faint praise. Both have their likeable sides. Both are pleasantly premium, and easy to imagine living with. Both are competent and undeniably quick, too. But where the Fiesta frequently dazzles, they tend to fizzle out.
Between them, they share the last two positions in the affordable fun countdown. However, in this case, not quite measuring up to the standard isn’t anything to feel ashamed about. Especially as, excluding the Fiesta, these were the cheapest cars on test - and cheap, as the criteria suggests, is good.