Cars like the Ford Fiesta ST are keeping the fun in driving.
It’s petite and perky, with enough punch from a tiny three-cylinder engine to qualify it as a 21st century hot hatch.
The Fiesta is not as all-out fast as some of the bigger new front-wheel drive pocket rockets, like the Renault Megane R.S., but it has plenty of personality and is a really fun toy.
It’s not cheap at just on $33,000, but these days it’s good value as the basic Fiesta has succumbed to the high tide of SUVs and it’s easy to spend more than $60,000 on a pocket rocket.
Being honest, the baby ST also has the sort of accessible performance that makes sense these days. It’s not as riotously raucous as the AMG A-Class cars from Mercedes-Benz, which belch and fart and create anti-social noise, but it is still briskly enjoyable.
It’s also got a six-speed manual gearbox, and those are becoming really rare in 2020.
The ST is a good looking five-door hatch with reasonable space for the class, and it’s good to have back doors when most other hot hatches only have the fronts. Access is much better and is far easier with kids.
At first the ST feels a bit ill-mannered, as the steering tugs under acceleration and it can wander a bit over bumps.
But that’s its character and, once I adjusted my expectations and my grip on the wheel, it was easy to get along smoothy and speedily.
The ST only has a tiny 1.5-litre engine, and it only has three cylinders, but a turbocharger means it has plenty of shove from 2000 revs and will pull happily to the redline. There is also a syncopated engine note which is slightly reminiscent of an Audi Quattro or V10-powered R8 supercar.
It’s best to change early and often in the little Ford, as the torque is always accessible and with just over 1200 kilograms to hustle along it can easily keep pace with theoretically quicker cars and deliver excellent enjoyment on a twisty road.
The gearbox is slick, there is a well-sized infotainment screen, the headlamps are good and the 18-inch alloys add personality. There is nothing outrageous on the wing front, but that makes the ST a little stealthy and that’s not a bad thing.
What’s best is that it is quick and accessible, proving that driving in 2020 can still be enjoyable even if you’re not behind the wheel of a Lamborghini Huracan.
Position: Hot hatch
THE TICK: For sure