Sunday 20 January 2019

Boy racer not forgotten in our eco-friendly age

NEWCOMER: The Fiesta Active joins the crossover craze
NEWCOMER: The Fiesta Active joins the crossover craze

Martin Brennan

Despite the rush to low emissions and high- economy hybrids, there is still an appetite for boy racer cars. City cars like the VW up! have been given the hot hatch treatment and even family hatchbacks such as the Hyundai i30 have got the 'N' treatment which can punch out 271bhp.

So it is no surprise Ford has come up with a full-blooded ST (Sports Technology) in its ever-popular Fiesta, and the new Focus, which should arrive in August, will eventually get the beefier treatment.

The Fiesta doesn't just get more power under the bonnet - there are different drive modes for road and track and a launch mode to get you to 100kmh in 6.5sec. The 200bhp power comes from a 1.5-litre three-cylinder EcoBoost engine with 290Nm of torque on tap. Top speed is 232kmh but head for Mondello if that is your fancy.

To keep the driver and three passengers safe and comfortable there is the option of normal, sport or track, depending on mood and location, which configure the engine, steering and stability controls to give the best 'fun-to-drive' experience.

Road holding is exceptional and throttle response also gets good marks through a slick gear change.

There are two options in the ST range. ST2 gets a comprehensive list of kit with the latest Sync infotainment system with 8in touchscreen.

Prices start at €28,120 while the ST3 with bigger 18in alloys, rear-view camera, driver alert and traffic sign recognition is priced from €30,270. Although this could be used as a family hatch, sales will be limited because of the price.

There is also a Fiesta Active SUV-style model coming in the summer as Ford moves to cash in on the crossover craze sweeping all sections of the motor trade. The popular trend in the market is the rugged look and Fiesta Active gets roofrails, additional cladding and the ride height is up 18mm with the track increased by 10mm. There are normal, eco and slippery drive modes and the suspension has been adjusted to deal with rough road driving. Hard wearing carpets and seats are provided and even the steering wheel is specially treated to withstand strong sun creams.

Arriving next month, the Active version comes with a 100bhp one-litre EcoBoost engine with 114g/km CO2 emissions and 5.0l/100km fuel claim through a six-speed manual gearbox. There are two versions, Active 1 priced at €21,900 and Active 2 at €23,900 with extra luxury items. The considerable price increase over the Fiesta may be a sales inhibitor but the crossover craze and controversial buy-now pay-later PCP style of getting behind the wheel of new cars could see many hundreds of sales a year.

Sunday Independent

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