Fiesta ST_Xgames_Foz_Brazil_April 2013_Fiesta Movement 040_edited by Bryan Redeker BRGT350, on Flickr
Out of everything I did in Brazil for the X Games and the Fiesta Movement, my favorite moment was the one not captured on film or with anyone with me. It wasn’t hanging out with Tanner, Ken, or Brian. It wasn’t talking rally with ESPN. It wasn’t even being the first to repel down the most powerful dam in the world. It was the 20 minutes I spent with a Fiesta ST prototype. Even with the first Fiesta Movement, the program has always been about the car. The car was the star, and not me or Brandon. I never saw the program as a way to get more YouTube views or more friends online. It has always been about the connection between man and machine. I spent a day filming with both Fiesta ST’s at the Iguassu Falls, and almost instantly, I felt connected to the cars. After filming with the Performance Blue Fiesta ST and Molten Orange ST pace car, it was time to get the cars back to the GRC paddocks. The only problem was there were too many cars and not enough drivers who could drive a stick. I offered my services to transport the Performance Blue ST. Doing so would make me the first person outside of Ford Motor Company to drive a US spec Ford Fiesta ST.
The Fiesta ST fires up with the same push-to-start as the regular Fiesta and you get more exhaust note at ignition. A slight blip of the throttle is rewarded with the sound of a spooling turbo. The ESC OFF button is next to the shifter, right where it should have been from day 1. I turned it off because nobody should ever drive a car with a system that limits hooning. The gear lever is shorter than the regular car, but not as short as the Ford Racing shifter. It is also not as tight, but most consumers would want it that way. Leaving the falls under the watchful eyes of security personal, the ST is not much different than your normal car. It gets a ton of stares and you sit more like you would in a fighter plane than a compact car with the highly bolstered Recaro seats. I was now strapped in behind the wheel of a 197hp, 1.6L turbocharged rocket with miles of smooth Brazilian asphalt under me.
Once past the eyes of armed security, I jump on the throttle in 2nd gear and the ST springs to life. There isn’t any torque steer as the trees quickly become blurred. The turbo spools with the sound a jet engine. The intake and exhaust notes create a symphony of mechanical music in the cockpit. Let off of the throttle to shift into 3rd and there is a loud Pffffffffffffffttttttttt from the waste gate. Oh yea, this thing makes real turbo sounds. For the next few miles I left the car in 4th and just revved the engine under load to listen to the turbo spool and waste gate release excess pressure. My face began to hurt from all the smiling and laughing that was going on with all the turbo foolishness. I giggled like a child with each release of air from the blow off valve. The next few miles were spent downshifting, accelerating, and shifting into 4th in order to hear all the glorious sounds coming from the ST.
The area around the falls is full of these small raccoon looking animals called Coatis’. Of course being curious little guys, one ran out in front of the ST while I was listening to all the turbo sounds. I jumped on the brakes and the ST came to a stop with an incredible amount of force. The upgraded pads, larger rotors, and rear rotors have the effect of a brick wall then the middle pedal is pushed down. The pad compound is grabby, but that is normal for brakes that don’t have many miles on them. The pedal feels very firm and it was easy to modulate braking during the panic stop. I let the little guy waddle across the road, which was fine since it gave me an excuse to accelerate from a dead stop and run the car through the gears again. The ST quickly caught back up to the rest of the convoy and the car sure accelerates faster than I would have expected it to. Even with the AC on, the engine just loves to pull.
I decided to test out the handling by slaloming around the reflectors on the center of the road. I fully expected the ST to have a softer suspension than the Ford Racing suspension I have installed on my Fiesta. Typically, the Ford Racing guys get to have a more enthusiastic suspension than the production guys will allow. Not the case at all! The ST is much stiffer than the Ford Racing suspension, and the rear is vastly stiffer in roll. The steering input is also more precise than the regular Fiesta with summer tires and the FRPP suspension. The ST carves the slalom with the precision of a scalpel and the car wants you to go faster and push harder. It changes direction more like a F1 car or a go-kart instead of a bubbly hatchback. I felt like I could pick a pebble on the road and make the car clip it with the edge of a tire. This car will dominate autocrosses.
We arrived at the GRC paddocks and the fun was over. The Fiesta ST provides a level of joy that I have not felt from a car in a very long time. I have driven all sorts of pricey sports cars and muscle cars and none of them have made such a huge impression on me. I thought for sure that the Focus ST would still be the car for me since it would be impossible for any car to beat it. I was wrong; the Fiesta ST is vastly more fun, more engaging, and full of more sounds than the Focus. The Fiesta ST simply works perfectly. It doesn’t isolate the driver from the mechanical bits and sounds that make a car fun to drive. It doesn’t hide anything; instead, it puts all of those things in tune with your body. The result is a compact car that is an extension of the driver. A shifter kart with a roof. Of everything I did in Brazil, I would have not thought a 20 minute drive would become the icing on a very exciting cake. Yes, the Fiesta ST is that good.
Fiesta ST_Xgames_Foz_Brazil_April 2013_Fiesta Movement 094_edited by Bryan Redeker BRGT350, on Flickr
Fiesta ST_Xgames_Foz_Brazil_April 2013_Fiesta Movement 010_edited by Bryan Redeker BRGT350, on Flickr
Fiesta ST_Xgames_Foz_Brazil_April 2013_Fiesta Movement 015_edited by Bryan Redeker BRGT350, on Flickr
Fiesta ST_Xgames_Foz_Brazil_April 2013_Fiesta Movement 027_edited by Bryan Redeker BRGT350, on Flickr
Fiesta ST_Xgames_Foz_Brazil_April 2013_Fiesta Movement 064_edited by Bryan Redeker BRGT350, on Flickr
Fiesta ST_Xgames_Foz_Brazil_April 2013_Fiesta Movement 076_edited by Bryan Redeker BRGT350, on Flickr