Fiesta STill STinging like a beech

When the 5th generation Fiesta ST was unveiled in ’04, it had racing stripes. And like the ones that were shaved into my hair then, they were cool. 13 years on and the Fiesta ST is still cool for this generation – the one without the stripes.

Ford Fiesta car review

Of course, it was appropriate that the first ST I ever had the pleasure of enjoying was driven by a Marco – and I, eagerly in his passenger seat encouraged him to “push it boet, push it!” Marco is, after all, the ST’s target market: He who enjoys the kick back of the small potent hatchback and doesn’t care for the practicality of the ‘A to B’ rhetoric. Cars, for the likes of Marco, are exceptional beings, with their essence and image as important as their function. Cars are alive.

On this then, the cusp of gen 7’s launch, it is somewhat sad and romantic that I got to test drive one of the current but soon to be forgotten Fiesta ST models now four years since its own launch. As a part of a long breed of special and sporty Fords I was excited to reminisce in its spirit when I arrived with my bias in full flavour: Sporty Fords have always held a special place in my heart, stripes or not. As it was, the gen 6 never had stripes, which is possibly its only drawback.

Gen 5's stripes. No wonder I shaved stripes into my own head, boet. Worked for the Fiesta!

The gen 6 shape took a while to grow into its skin after launching way back in ’08 and it was initially not as nice to look at as it eventually became. It was, like many concept cars of any era, a bit “space-shippy” – and it’s jutty-out center console was plain ugly. It certainly is testament then to Ford’s forward-thinking that the Fiesta became more appealing as time went on so that when the new ST finally hit our shores in 2013 – after too long a wait – its shape and look were well digested enough by then to be eaten up by every Marco who eventually bought it. And what a buy it still is.

​As such, the ST I drove this morning was expectedly awesome. It’s classed as a “supermini” meaning that it fills a gap that Golf once created and then left about 20 years ago – the small and potent hatch back gap for the driver who wants all the kick without the financial whiplash. Like the Polo GTi, the ST’s biggest competitor, it has flourished in young car-loving South Africa and rightly so: It’s a solid and awesome looking piece of work with 135kW of trigger happy power, which stems from an EcoBoosted 1600 that rumbles-and-bumbles like an East Rand stock car.

For those of us at Gusheshe who don’t care for kilowatts nor any other real world numbers, what that means is this: the ST will get you to a century faster than a Polo GTi and that’s all that counts. Isn’t that right Marco? I enjoyed thrashing it about in traffic today – much to the horror of the salesperson who accompanied me – and as I drove it I couldn’t help but love it, brightly coloured and all burning like a bee sting.

It feels different to the Polo GTi purely from a “class perspective”. The GTi feels more expensive and more refined and the ST’s lack thereof gives the rougher, nastier, brightly-coloured ST its appeal – its boy racer image. The GTi went to private school; but the ST flourished at a model C institution and now attends the same university. As cars they are good as each other and probably even really good friends, but you can hear the difference in their accents. As such, cars of this kind for this market are always about heritage and it’s likely that a ST buyer will always denounce its VW counterpart and vice versa. Never have I driven two cars so similar but so different in the image they portray.

No doubt, the stinging red ST was a breath of fresh air today in a world of white and silver mediocrity, in a world so focused on the boredom between A and B. It’s presence beneath me was all I cared about when I drove it – it and its dash between the lights. For as long as Ford continues to create thick suspensions and spitting motors, and sells them proudly to motor loving fools who speak in thick South African tongue, it will always be Gusheshe’s friend.

Bring on the Fiesta gen 7!