The Guinness Book of World Records ranks the Honey Badger as the “World’s Most Fearless Creature,” though they are not invincible – Badgers will without hesitation fend-off a pride of Lions, stand its ground against a Hyena, steal a prize kill from a Leopard and are immune to most snake venom. Considering that it is no bigger than a Bull Dog – Pound-for-pound the Honey Badger is the fiercest creature on four legs. Likewise, pound-for-pound the Ford Fiesta ST200 is the fiercest mini-compact Hot-hatch on four wheels.
Here is my tale of the tape:
Exterior Design: The Fiesta ST200 shares the same exterior design features as those of its much tamer sibling the Fiesta ST. However, the ST200 is available only in Storm Grey hue and has a more track ready appearance – enough to induce an adrenalin rush by just looking at it. Mat-black alloy-rims and 17” low-profiles tyres are further telltale features that this sporty hot-hatch is a limited edition – 160 in the entire country.
Interior Architecture: The ST200 badge’s prominent display at the bottom of the centre-consol is eye-catching, but the infotainment centre-fascia looks outmoded, besides the picture from the reverse-camera. The screen display is decidedly analogue – replete with AUX/USB audio functions, Bluetooth hands-free cell phone connectivity and voice-command. Accessible via the leather wrapped multi-function steering wheel – peace of mind that the car’s onboard technology is right at your fingertips. Snug fitting Recaro Racing Bucket Seats, (heated), neutral dark tones, and silver stitching lines the leather seats and the edges of the safety belts add to the sense of occasion. The only practical aspect about the interior, are the utility areas and cup-holders, besides small children, I would not recommend an arduous long trip with taller passengers sitting in the back.
Performance: the Fiesta ST200 boasts a 147kw, 1.6L Turbocharged Ecoboost engine, mated to a 6-speed, Durashift manual transmission, sending 290nm of torque to the front-wheels: along with an extra 30nm of torque and 11kw of power twenty-second overboost function – with an undeterred hint of torque-steer. With impressive in-gear acceleration, the ST200 catapults from zero to 100km/h in 6.5’s and has a top-speed of 235km/h. Every gearshift elicits this anticipation of, “what next” and as the boost-pressure builds up…so does the suspense…every burst of acceleration is addictive and habit forming – it’s a serotonin surge on four-wheels. It takes just a small amount of torque, the Fiesta ST200 clearly defines the difference between speed and acceleration.
Driving Experience and Handling: All it takes is mental-telepathy and the ST200 changes direction…no it does not…but it sure feels that way. That Polo GTI DSG may elude you on the straight, but once in the corners the ST200 is like a Cheetah chasing down a Gazelle – the sport tuned chassis and suspension responds with dexterous compliance even to the slightest twitch of the steering wheel. There is a striking connection between car and driver, front-axle control and rear wheel stability – is so cohesive. “Fast in, faster out!” The Fiesta ST200 is full of racecar prowess but with a degree of driving comfort to handle day-to-day commutes – albeit in day-to-day driving, the ST200 is reasonable on fuel – 7L/100km.
Safety Features and Pricing: Complete with seven airbags, tyre pressure monitoring, hill-hold assist, ABS/EBD, BAS/EBA, traction and stability control. However, it was two or three times, I saw the tiny T/c icon flash on the speedo-display, the braking system keeps the car straight and flat under the most precarious and hard braking of situations – “especially when hunting Gazelles.” You can expect to pay in the region of R345 000+ for the Ford Ford Fiesta ST200
Final Comments: The Fiesta ST200 became my “happy space,” my place of solitude and meditation that no one dared intrude. I savoured every moment, caught every detail, studied and memorized every dynamic of the ST200‘s driving characteristic, made mental pace notes along every road, approached every corner with a strategy…braking zones… clipping points and exit speed. “Slow is smooth and smooth is fast” was my driving credo – mastering telepathic credence of the car’s weight-transfer. When you drive the Ford Fiesta ST200, it makes you want to be that much better of a driver…you no longer want to settle for average. Three characters come to mind when I recall my experience of driving the Fiesta ST200, anthropologically speaking,
The Honey Badger: because it is fearless, Jason Bourne: because of its supremacy in its class, and a go-kart: because it is the most fun car I have driven in a long-time.
By Dean Joseph