Ford Fiesta ST-3

Ford Fiesta ST, front action
Ford Fiesta ST, front action 2
Ford Fiesta ST, side action
Ford Fiesta ST, rear action
Ford Fiesta ST, rear static
Ford Fiesta ST, dashboard

IF you enjoy driving with enthusiasm you'll know cars only come alive when they're pushed along a bit.

Given a bit of wellie, in other words.

Try that too often in, say, a Lamborghini (a badge picked entirely at random, of course) and you'll end up in a ditch, hospital bed or magistrates' court. Or all three.

Prompt a similar level of enthusiasm from the new Fiesta ST and the worst that will happen is more frequent visits to the petrol pumps.

The rest of the time you'll be grinning like someone who's just opened a registered letter from the Lottery.

For here is a little raver built with the sort of extra fizz you can enjoy on almost any road, especially if it's smooth and winding and you're in the mood for fun.

The engineers at Ford have taken the new Fiesta - itself a winner in the everyman driving stakes - and turned the grin-ometer up to full for the ST version, adding to its attraction with a price that makes it look a bit of a bargain.

For £18,995 you can buy an ST-1 with all the essentials for a thoroughly thought through hot hatch, from strapped down suspension to Recaro sports front seats and a throbby three-cylinder engine that produces 200 horsepower and wants to make you smile all day long. So too will the car's 42mpg average.

Add in chunky alloy wheels, firmly positive steering and brakes and a precise gearchange and this ST represents the bargain hot hatch of the moment.

Cruise control, a thick rimmed and flat bottomed steering wheel, air conditioning and touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto mean this is no stripped out bargain basement racer.

Of course, Ford invites you to spend more. Move to an ST-2, from £19,995, and you'll add heated front seats, auto climate control and a B&O sound system, along with smarter alloys.

Spend £21,495 and the ST-3 brings bigger alloys, sat nav, lumbar support, heated steering wheel and rear parking camera.

Get carried away and you'll find extra goodies, like superb full LED headlights (£600) and a performance pack (£850) that includes a limited slip differential. Adding rear doors costs £650.

Spend another £750 and your speedy Fiesta can ditch the no cost red paint for exclusive performance blue, but it remains a discreet looking machine, hiding its potency beneath a thankfully conservative body kit that won't have every nine year old hatch with silly wheels and mortar-sized exhaust trying to muscle into your bit of road space.

Inside, the ST remains a practical family hatch with decent room in the rear and a sensibly sized boot. Instruments and switches are easily viewed or touched, although you won't feel as though you're cocooned in a posher car's interior. Solid and workmanlike does here.

FAST FACTS

Ford Fiesta ST-3

Price: £21,995

Mechanical: 197bhp, 1,497cc, 3cyl petrol engine driving front wheels via 6-speed manual gearbox

Max Speed: 144mph

0-62mph: 6.5 seconds

Combined MPG: 47.1

Insurance Group: 28

C02 emissions: 136g/km

Bik rating: 28%

Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles

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