A FIRM GOODBYE

WE DRIVE ’EM LIKE WE OWN ’EM

ALEX INWOOD

Garage

IT’S A HOT HATCH FOR THE AGES, IF YOU CAN HANDLE THE RIDE...

FUNNY HOW an end date sharpens the focus. After four months in the Wheels Garage, during which it has endured a global pandemic, suffered slobbering dogs, scampered up slimy B-roads and shrugged of freezing winter mornings, it’s time for the Fiesta to return to Ford.

The consequences of this looming departure have been twofold. The first is that, in order to squeeze out every last drop of fun while I still can, I’ve started to drive with a possessed kind of urgency. Even quick dashes to the shops have become hyperactive affairs, and I’ve discovered it’s easy to dial up the drama, and the fun, without dialling in the attention of the local police.

Sport mode is my new default and it’s been something of a revelation. Throttle response is considerably sharper, the steering gains a meatier edge, and the exhaust note is much more pronounced with additional cracks and pops on the overrun. For best results, however, I’d recommend activating Race Track mode and dropping down the 60:40 folding rear seats to better allow the surprisingly deep baritone of the gutsy three-pot to fill the cabin. Mercifully, given the already taut ride, dialling up the drive mode aggression does nothing to alter the firmness of the dampers.

I’d been expecting this month’s fuel figures to skyrocket (heavily boosted three-cylinder engines are notoriously thirsty when driven hard), though once again, the Fiesta has been one of the thriftiest members of our Garage. Only Andy’s CX-30 drank less fuel.

Which segues nicely into the second consequence of the Fiesta’s departure: mulling the finer points of its ownership experience. Ultimately, the Fiesta’s driveability/liveability balance is overwhelming positive, though there are a few caveats worth mentioning should you be considering buying one.

Take the packaging, for example. On balance, it’s excellent. I’ve relished the sense of nimbleness and opportunity that comes from driving such a small car (especially when jagging tight parking spots), and Ford has done a decent job of using the available space. The 311L boot is large enough for two border collies, and as I found out when setting up my home office, if you fold the rear seats you can fit an office chair, a desk and a large computer monitor.

Care has been given to rear-seat passengers, too, who will appreciate decent vision and supportive cushions, but knee-room is at a premium which makes the rear bench more of a kidfriendly zone. And a large turning circle erodes the aforementioned sense of nimbleness when parking.

There’s less to complain about up front. The Recaro seats are excellent, all of the controls are logically laid out, and SYNC3 is simple to navigate and works well with Apple CarPlay. Fussier minds might complain about the extensive use of hard plastics, but few could find issue with the level of standard equipment on offer.

But my biggest bugbear, by far, is the ride. It might deliver superb control and nuance on a winding road, but in day-to-day driving the Fiesta is jittery and jostles its passengers. At first I was so taken with how the Fiesta drives that I accepted the firm ride as fair trade, but this month the scales tipped from tolerable to tiresome. It’s become such an issue that my wife now refuses to take the Ford on longer drives because “our Golf GTI is way more comfortable”. If you’re buying a Fiesta ST as your sole family car, I’d express caution.

Still, while its extended stint may have dulled its sheen a little, there’s no denying this is a brilliant hot hatch. But with its return looming, my attention is already shifting towards its replacement. Another Ford will fill these pages next month and it too will wear an ST badge. It’s going to have big shoes to fill…

ALEX INWOOD

REPORT FOUR EXIT

FORD FIESTA ST

Price as tested: $32,940 

This month: 1119km @ 7.1L/100km

Overall: 2207km @ 7.5L/100km