The Ford Fiesta is without doubt a hugely important global car for Ford, having sold 750,000 last year and with a history dating back to the XR2 in 1981. EFTM was thrilled to be given the opportunity to pilot the 2013 Fiesta ST for a drive day at the St Ives HART course, on Sydney’s upper north shore.
The little hatch is now more powerful than ever. Ford have managed to extract 134kW and 240 Nm of torque from a 1.6-litre EcoBoost petrol engine, that’s 20 per cent more power along with being 20 per cent more efficient.
Even more impressive is the potential to ramp things up to 147kW and 290Nm via an overboost function which kicks in for up to 20 seconds. A claimed fuel economy of 6.2-litres/ 100km should prove achievable; however a heavy right foot as with many turbo units will no doubt see that rise considerably.
EFTM was given a few hours to experience the Fiesta ST abilities around a closed course with the assistance of a professional driver team.
Uniquely, and to Ford Australia’s credit the day wasn’t so much about thrashing the three-door hatch around a track but more about showcasing an array of electronic safety systems the new Fiesta ST has on board.
Fiesta ST features eTVC, a system which applies brake force to the inside front wheel when cornering, which reduces understeer with no loss of speed. A new Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) program controls balance and poise under both braking and acceleration. DSC is offered in three settings which were demonstrated on the St Ives HART centre skidpan. It’s not a totally unique system, but has been hugely updated and specially calibrated by Bosch.
Wet plastic mats were laid out on the course replicating near snow like traction. We drove the Fiesta ST at up to 60km/h onto the target area and turned violently to the right, reproducing a sudden emergency avoidance scenario followed by heavy braking.
Each manoeuvre was performed with DSC in full intervention mode, reduced mode and finally with the system completely off.
However since the Ford Team RS tuned powertrain, suspension, steering and brakes boarder so close to perfection each run was a breeze to perform, even with the nanny system completely off. Although one over enthusiastic scribe did manage to send the test car spinning wildly off course!
We were even encouraged to brake with two wheels on the soap like plastic and two on the tarmac, with no hands on the wheel. It really is remarkable how these systems bring proceedings to a straight line halt via the on board computer brain. No matter how good a driver you may be, you can never replicate what these systems are capable of.
Another impressive asset the Fiesta ST boasts is also an Australian first, MyKey. This allows owners to program one set of keys with a host of limiting options. For example, those concerned about overzealous younger can pre set things such as radio volume, activate a speed alert and even prevent the DSC system being turned off.
So how does it drive?
We were allowed only short stints in the car and sat as passenger during a moderately hot lap driven by one of the pros.
My observations were that it has that real Go Kart feel, I was left wanting for more. Cornering produces one long constant broad smile. Power delivery is smooth and the sweet spot seems spread across a wide portion of the rev range. I loved it.
It may not be the hottest looking hatch around but it’s still relatively stylish. The ST offers a unique grille, dynamic headlight design, and rear diffuser. Recaro® seats and unique ST detailing. A cool Sound Symposer system, which is basically a pipe from the engine bay, channels the raucous engine note right into the cabin.
Ford has also introduced a SYNC Emergency Assistance system which uses the driver’s mobile phone via Bluetooth to help connect occupants with 000 personal following an accident, the triggering of an airbag can also automatically activate the service. You see the buttons for such systems in many cars, but the Fiesta ST along with the Ford Kuga and Focus ST are the only new cars available in Australia featuring Emergency Assistance smart technology.
The new Fiesta ST is on sale now with just one model offered at the ripe price of $25,990.