Ford’s Focus ST and Fiesta ST performance-oriented hatchbacks are selling better than projected, leading the automaker to adjust production of the vehicles at their respective assembly plants.

“We were a little conservative on planning on both products, so we’re working to dial-up production,” Sarah Rock, Focus and Fiesta GT brand manager. “They currently are experiencing some of the highest turn rates in Ford showrooms.”

The Fiesta ST is built at Ford’s Cuautitlán, Mexico, plant, while the Focus ST is assembled in Wayne, MI. Rock says Ford is adjusting the mix to produce greater volumes of STs in relation to the base-model products, but doesn’t offer specifics.

Ford says both models are turning twice as fast as the base models. The Focus ST’s turn rate currently is 15 days, while the Fiesta ST has a 30-day turn rate.

The performance models account for about 8% of the Focus and Fiesta ST model mix, but that is expected to trend upward as production adjustments are made.

Focus deliveries, including the base model and ST version, were off 4.6% last year to 234,570 units, while Fiesta sales rocketed 25.1% to 71,073, according to WardsAuto data. Through July, Focus deliveries dove 6.9% to 138,680, while Fiesta was 8.4% behind last year’s tally to 42,626.

For decades, the so-called hot-hatch segment was dominated by the Volkswagen GTI, which posted an 18.4% dropoff in sales last year to 13,310 units. Through July, GTI deliveries jumped 9.0% to 8,498. The German automaker expects a boost from the recent introduction of an all-new model.

Rock says the performance cars are drawing new customers to Ford showrooms, many of which are trading in import models.

“ST products are seeing conquest rates higher than other Ford nameplates,” she says. “They have a 65%-70% conquest (rate), which is fantastic.”

Most ST buyers, 85% of which are college-educated males in their 20s and 30s, are trading in Subaru, VW and Mini vehicles, Rock says.

“Dealers love the products because these are definitely new customers,” she says.

Neither model has required much marketing, as most customers learn about them through social media. They also have received a boost from rally driver Ken Block, who frequently races high-performance Focus and Fiesta vehicles.

“Three-fourths of our customers are active on social media, so it’s a key way to reach them,” Rock says. “We have 230,000 Facebook fans, and the GTI, which has been in this segment, has half the number of fans.”

bpope@wardsauto.com