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Ford Fiesta

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Ford Fiesta ST150

Driven December 2004

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And the chassis handles it easily. For a start it grips like a demon. The springs, dampers and anti-roll bars are stiffer all-round. The basic idea is to make the front end steer faster, even though there's an extra hunk of engine sitting on it, so a faster steering rack went in. Then the rear has more roll resistance, so you can play about with it on the throttle. It works a treat - like any Ford, it seems to be understeering but the harder you yank on the wheel, the more front grip you seem to get. It's a real little terrier.

Then there's the brakes: bigger all-round, and even a set of discs for the back, which is the first time ever on a Fiesta. Which isn't just terrific for stopping right now, it'll also be handy for all those kids tarting up their STs a few years down the line. Big spokey alloys over green-painted rear drums is soooo not a good look.

And yet, and yet... I think it could have been more urgent. There's just a little softness to the steering and throttle. It makes it easier to drive, makes it feel more like a Golf GTI. But is that supposed to be the point here?

That said, there is real feist in this Fiesta, and because I was enjoying it, I made Barry the photographer sick. Sorry, Barry. Still, going easy highlights another thing about the ST - it's actually very civilised and certainly doesn't feel two whole size classes down from a Golf GTI. Wind noise is low, the suspension is generally pretty quiet, and if you drive on the torque curve the engine won't wake the dead. In most Fiestas the cabin is cheapskate and drab, but big curvy seats and some extra brightwork do dress it up a bit in this ST, so it's no longer a deal-breaker.

But look outward, and enjoy the kick you get out of pelting it along the road. The ST makes the very best of everything it's got.

Paul Horrell

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