Iíve been waiting nearly a decade for this car to be sold in the U.S.

The Ford Fiesta ST hatchback is finally here!

One of the most popular selling cars in Europe since its debut in 2005, Ford has finally brought the performance-oriented Fiesta to our shores.

If you think this is just another small car, you would be doing yourself a great disservice.

The Fiesta is an absolutely phenomenal subcompact, available in sedan and hatchback body styles.

Now, Fiesta fans also have the option of the ST hatchback designed by Fordís Sport Technologies team.

Powered by a 1.6-liter EcoBoost I-4 that delivers an incredibly responsive 197 horses and 202 lbs.-ft. torque, the Fiesta ST is mated to a six-speed manual transmission that is an absolute blast to wind out the gears on a twisty country road ó or on the weekends for those with access to a track.

Ride and handling characteristics are exceptional. The steering and suspension slices through curves with ease. And while designed as a performance car, it is also very economical to operate with an EPA fuel economy rating of 26 mpg city, 35 mpg highway.

The five-passenger, front-wheel drive Fiesta ST also provides 10.1 cubic feet of cargo room with all five seats in use.

With a base price starting at $21,400, itís also loaded with equipment, such as a unique ST grille and hood, leather-wrapped ST steering wheel and leather shift knob, leather-trimmed seats, power moonroof, LED parking lamps, heated mirrors, ambient lighting system with seven colors, dual chrome-tipped exhaust, MyKey programmability that allows the owner to limit speed, audio levels and stability control (great for parents with driving-age children), Ford Sync with MyFord Touch and a premium audio system, to list but a few.

Standard safety equipment includes AdvanceTrac electronic stability control, dual-stage first-row airbags, driver knee airbag, side-impact airbags, side-curtain airbags, four-wheel anti-lock braking system, anti-theft engine immobilizer and LATCH child seat anchoring system, to list but a few of the safety items.

Make no mistake, the ST is the performance Fiesta model. While it certainly delivers on Sport Technologies pledge, its amenities and features also make this a premium sports vehicle ó without the premium price.

I truly like every aspect of the Fiesta ST ó from styling to amenities to comfort to its ST performance capabilities.

What I appreciated most was how fun this car is to drive. I had an absolute blast this week. It is truly one of those cars you look for excuses to take a trip just to drive it again.

The 2014 Ford Fiesta ST is an absolute must for the test drive list.

Neal White has been covering the automotive industry for more than 20 years and is affiliated with the Texas Auto Writers Association.

The Nuts and Bolts

MODEL:

2014 Ford Fiesta ST

5-seat hatchback †

Front-wheel drive

PRICE RANGE:

$22,000-$25,000

ENGINE:

1.6L EcoBoost I-4

(197 hp/202 torque)

TRANSMISSION:

6-speed manual

EPA: 26 mpg city, 35 mpg highway

FUEL: Premium unleaded recommended, regular unleaded acceptible

STABILITY CONTROL:

AdvanceTrac electronic stability control

BRAKES: ABS

LENGTH: 160.1 inches

WHEELBASE: 98 inches

WIDTH: 67.8 inches

HEIGHT: 57.2 inches

WEIGHT: 2,742 lbs.

TRACK: 57.7/57

(front/rear)

FUEL TANK: 12.4 gallons

TIRES: 17-inch

CARGO: 10.1 cubic feet.