As I understand it, the hot hatch was born out of the necessity of the hoi polloi to go as fast as the posh people. The plebs were sick of standing next to the road watching the middle classes fly by at speeds they could only dream of. Something needed to be done, so Volkswagen - in its infinite wisdom - built the very first Golf GTI.
The Golf GTI is still with us, but it’s no longer the preserve of the working-class hero. Somewhere along the line it moved up the social-class ladder and became a symbol of success to mid-level managers across the globe. It’s no one’s fault, really. It’s the natural progression of things, but it has left a nice exposed gap for other manufacturers to fill.
In many ways I’m glad the Golf took a step up. If it didn’t, some of my favourite cars wouldn’t exist. The Polo GTI, Citroën DS3, Suzuki Swift Sport and Peugeot 208 GTI (featured on the front page) would have never seen the light of day.
The Ford is my favourite out of the bunch. Retailing at R254 500, it places the power - a whopping 134kW and 240Nm of it - back in the hands of the people.
That’s an impressive amount of power for such a small car. The result is ridiculously exciting, to say the least. Ford claims a zero to 100km/h acceleration time of 6.9 seconds and a top speed somewhere north of 200km/h. I can’t confirm any of this, but I can tell you that it certainly feels like a sub-seven-second car. It’s very eager to get away from the lights, chirping its front tyres even when you don’t intend to drive it like a thug.
It gets even better when you show it a corner. Drop it down a cog or two, which is a pleasing experience in itself thanks to a snappy six-speed manual, and fling it into the bend. The ST rewards you by cornering as flat as a sheet of A4 paper, leaving you with the healthy glow of a man whose ego has just been inflated a few millimetres. The Fiesta is very good at making its driver feel like a hero.
From the outside, I like to think the driver looks the part as well. The ST model has a number of interior and exterior style upgrades (spoilers, 17-inch alloys, unique foot pedals and Recaro seats) that make it stand out from lesser Fiesta models. You can also have it in a colour called Molten Orange, which is an absolute must-have if you want the ST to look fast even when it’s parked in the driveway.
It may sound like Ford spent the entire budget on the performance and style upgrades, but you get a decent amount of kit as standard as well. The comfort and convenience features include keyless entry, SYNC system with Bluetooth and voice control, a Sony sound system with six speakers and USB/Aux inputs and steering-wheel-mounted audio controls. Ford’s brilliant MyKey system, which allows you to set speed limits and the like for one specific key, is also included as standard.
The only real gripe I have is the three-door format. It looks fantastic, but it has a drastic effect on the day-to-day usability of the car. On the other hand, it’s a small sacrifice to make if you want a car that will likely be remember as one of the best in Ford’s history.