ST was kind of a downgrade for me. But after having driven it a little while, I can't say that I personally feel it's that much of a downgrade.. more of a downsize.. But I'm having a blast in it.. And so far the fun/quality/reduced operating costs have made it easy to be extremely happy with my decision.
I'm coming from a 2010 Camaro SS/RS and a 2010.5 SVT Raptor.
Quite a gap in price... And I'm very impressed with the ST.
I haven't owned a mazda2. but I've got some seat time in and appreciation for the mazda3...(Nearly bought a 2010 and then again considered the new 2014.. The FiST is a far more satisfying alternative imho...
But everyone's different. Spending some time in an ST yourself, is going to be infinitely more helpful than comparing random peoples biased opinions on here... Odd's are most of us on here are going to wax poetic about the FiST....
Get behind the wheel of one, and then see if you can resist the swap. My guess is that... if you can't make up your mind without driving one, a little seat time will answer your questions for you. Best of luck with the decision!
Funny, I keep having encounters with women in green Mazda2's when I'm out and about in my Green Fiesta ST. Seems to appeal to a lot of 2 drivers.