We drove the new Ford Fiesta ST on the raggedy edge at Goodwood and survived
You may remember last month we drove the new 2018 Ford Fiesta ST across Southern France and were blown away but its brilliance and fun factor. Now, the ST is making its debut at the Goodwood Festival of Speed where Ford asked us to test it to the limit.
Tackling a legendary circuit
First up was the challenge of the mighty Goodwood Circuit. Originally designed for F1 cars before they were good at going around corners, it's a high-speed, unforgiving track where if you get it wrong it’s going to hurt.
Despite the soaring temperatures on the day, the little ST held its own on the 2.3-mile circuit with all the track cars getting punished to the limit at speeds of up to 120mph.
Unsurprisingly, the Fiesta ST did brilliantly here. Considering it was standard road spec, it was quick and pointy in the corners thanks to the optional Quaife diff, with the 1.5-litre three-cylinder turbo motor making a great noise and providing plenty of thrust. All that combines to make it a bloody riot to drive very quickly.
The job Ford has done with the car’s handling quickly becomes apparent on track, with the super grippy front-end and the new design rear shocks making cornering at high speed an easy task – even for this chubby fingered motoring hack.
Can the Fiesta ST cut the mustard on some of the worst roads in Europe?
Yes, is the quick answer. Even on the UK’s battered roads, the Fiesta ST takes it all in its stride.
Ford’s brilliant chassis setup does a great job of absorbing the terrible surfaces, meaning you can drive the ST quickly and spiritedly with only the most major of road imperfections slightly unsettling the car at speed.
On a UK B-road, the ST comes alive, allowing you to use all 200PS on tap with the dialled in steering and front-end making short work of tight corners with ease. As before, the steering and the slick six-speed gearbox are a joy to use, and when combined with the burbling three-pot motor and the crackling exhaust, it just puts a massive grin on your face when driving it – as any great hot hatch should.
Taking on the fastest driveway in the world
If you thought that all this track and road driving was enough, Ford had one last place for me to test the new ST: on the legendary Goodwood Hillclimb.
My tutor for the day was pro rally driver Gina Walker, who somehow wasn’t very nervous about the possibility of me binning Ford’s shiny new car on the world’s fastest driveway.
After being told that I should test the ST’s launch control, I arrived at the start line a bag of nerves fumbling around with the controls, before launching off in a hail of tyre smoke with thousands watching.
Freed from the speed limits of previous years, I dialled up the Fiesta’s motor and gave it everything I had to attack the hillclimb as fast as I could. Again, the little ST shone here, making easy work of the 1.16-mile distance with its sublime handling preventing me from ending up in the hay. This really was a bucket list moment.
After delivering the car across the line in one piece, Gina commented that my driving was ‘fantastic’, though it was pretty likely she was simply grateful she was still alive, more than anything else.
A truly great hot hatch
What Ford has done with the new Fiesta ST is engineer something quite remarkable – a car you can use every day with bags of character that’s colossal fun when you show it some proper roads (or a very fast driveway).
If you’re in the market for a small hot hatch, look at everything else first and then buy the ST. It really is that good.