Ford Fiesta ST-3

Ford Fiesta ST-3, front static
Ford Fiesta ST-3, front action
Ford Fiesta ST-3, front action 2
Ford Fiesta ST-3, side action
Ford Fiesta ST-3, rear action
Ford Fiesta ST-3, rear seats
Ford Fiesta ST-3, front seats
Ford Fiesta ST-3, dashboard
Ford Fiesta ST-3, boot

WANT to turn any cross country dash into a miles-of-smiles trip? Well, you're looking at a sure fire answer to that question.

Simply put, there can't be a more engaging, modestly sized car than Ford's fastest Fiesta, a magical mix of practicality and power, dusted with a little luxury in this top of the pile version.

Ford has form in the game of turning already fun to drive small hatches into something a whole lot more vivid from behind the (flat bottomed, thick rimmed and red stitched leather) steering wheel and this latest effort has the go faster genes in spades.

Powered by a modestly sized, 1.5-litre petrol engine, the Ford fun factory has turbo boosted power to a g-force bending near 200bhp, enough to have the front wheels scrabbling for grip if you unleash all the horses in first and second gears.

But this a seriously upgraded machine, so a limited slip differential helps tame the exuberance, both in a straight line and as you try to exit a flowing country road corner with a touch of the Lewis Hamiltons in your repertory.

And the joy is you don't have to be pushing silly speeds to enjoy the full faster Fiesta effect; try law abiding pace on your favourite bit of hardtop and you'll be properly rewarded.

The team behind this latest ST version of Britain's most bought new car range took a thorough approach to adding horses to their little hatchback. So everything that mattered was tickled by their magic touch, from brakes and suspension to steering and gearchange.

You might spot the red brake calipers peeking from behind the special 18in alloy wheels, or notice the unique ST front grille, rear bumper or the scuff plates when you open the doors, but buy the top ST-3 version and there's lots more to take in.

Small cars long ago caught up with their bigger siblings in the kit department. This one has a fine sat nav system, rear view camera with parking sensors, heated windscreen, keyless entry and start, LED lights on low beam (and auto dip) and a B&O sound system with 10 speakers and the power to rise easily about the throaty vibes put out when the engine is asked to work for a living.

Which will be rather a lot, especially with a gearchange that might have been cloned from a rifle's loading system and steering so sharp it takes a few miles to get used to, when it then simply takes this road rocket precisely where you point it.

The super-huggy front seats might rob the rear of some legroom and the sporty springing is unforgiving on rougher roads, but you simply won't care.


Ford Fiesta ST-3

Price: £24,900

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: 40.5

Insurance Group: 28

C02 emissions: 158g/km

Bik rating: 34%

Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles


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