The new Ford Fiesta ST is powered by the latest 1.6 litre EcoBoost engine built in Wales and it gave members an opportunity to test the car on local roads and visit the Bridgend Engine Plant, which has also won a massive investment for the next generation of engines going into production from 2014. This is what some of the members had to say of the new model with its dragon’s heart 

Group chairman Ian Adcock swops his racing suit for a white coat, 

“Ford’s ability to transform mundane family fare into feisty performers can be traced back to the original 1963 Lotus Cortina.

Fitting then that 50 years on all that DNA should be poured into the Cortina’s contemporary descendent, the Fiesta ST.

Two laps of Llandow, brakes smoking, tyres squealing, heart beats racing proved the ST a fine performer true to its heritage.”

Fiesta ST – I see no sheep by David Miles.

“Had it not been foggy on the test drive day we might have seen the sheep, pretty ones and others according to well-known expert Robin Roberts.  

The weather also blanketed out the wondrous coastal drive we had been promised before we paid-our-way across The Bridge into South Wales for the Fiesta ST press launch. 

What we did see was Ford’s spotlessly clean, high-tech petrol engine production facility at Bridgend which supplies one engine every 24 seconds, not only for Ford models but JLR products as well.   

A memorable experience apart from the weather and not seeing one pretty sheep.  But the Fiesta ST was good – especially the price.” 

Robin  Roberts wasn’t sheepish in his praise either, saying

“Ford has taken a lot of stick for pulling out of car and van production in  Britain, but the fact remains that the UK is a major design, engineering and manufacturing centre for the company.

Bridgend Engine Plant has about 2,300 on its payroll and is a major employer in Wales, consistently winning new investments, including the next generation 1.5 litre EcoBoost engines being sourced for Europe from Wales from 2014.

Just to be clear, it employs gardeners not sheep to keep down the grass around the site.”

Docile and calm, that’s the Fiesta ST not our Kim Henson

“To my mind this new sporty Fiesta has a particularly striking appearance, and even before you climb aboard and start the engine, it seems eager to perform.

From behind the wheel the car’s dynamic competence is confirmed within a few minutes of setting off on your first journey. The lively engine delivers its power without fuss, and pulls strongly from 1,500 rpm upwards. 

Acceleration is rapid when required, yet equally, when treated gently, the car is docile and pleasantly calm for urban motoring in heavy traffic. I liked the slick changing, easy-action gearbox too.

For main road cruising, the car is relaxing to drive; during my test drive at 60 mph in 6th (top) gear, the tachometer needle was indicating just 2,250 rpm.

Handling and cornering characteristics were enjoyable at all times during my drive, and even when pushed to the limits on a track, this Fiesta was keen to go where it was pointed, with little body roll evident.

The inherent firmness in the suspension was less welcome for normal driving on minor roads with broken surfaces, in which situation I and my co-driver felt that it gave a distinctly uncomfortable ride.

Jeremy Walton [former Ford Motorsport employee] on Fiesta ST…

The turbocharged Fiesta—latest in a line that stretches back to the 1980s Fiesta XR2 generations—is about a lot more than 137 mph performance figures.

We drove it on the compact but challenging Llandow track in South Wales and surrounding public roads. I had last visited back in the 1970s when it was used for a race and rallying Motorsport hybrid event: Avon and Texac-backed Tour of Britain

Encouraged by the novelty format of race tracks and [mild] loose surface special stages, factory/importer supported teams came from Ford, GM, Nissan, British Leyland and Nissan. Drivers like double world champion Graham Hill were hired and the lurid rear drive power-slides around the track gladdened the action camera crews, those that could see through the dust and airborne debris.

We were promised a special driving experience and the small Ford delivered. A central Ford Team RS sorts these ST variants within  stern production line constraints. The Ford One plan to get some global sense into the product basics through platform sharing seems to have done us all a favour with Ford performers slamming back into the affordable world with the much misunderstood ST branding. 

Those initials gives Jeremy Clarkson cheap laughs on BBC Top Gear, but originally stood for Super Touring, a saloon car racing category in which Ford tasted sustained success.

I liked this small, swift and affordable Ford. Sure it had it has faults—but they are far fewer than the now revered earlier editions!

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