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Hot little Fiesta is a ST-onking ride ... just watch for the inner beast

YOU know you're getting old when a hot hatch is just too hot.

Now, before you start screaming for the men in white coats to cart me off to the mad house, I need to present a few cold, hard facts.

Firstly, what you see before you may look like a sportier version of the cuddly, face-lifted Fiesta, but it's not.

To the trained eye there are little dangers sign dotted around the whole body - like the colourful markings on a poisonous snake or lethal spider.

These are small and subtle but flagged in bright red.

The first is the iconic ST badge on the bottom left hand side of the lower mesh grille coupled with red brake callipers nestled behind snazzy, 17 inch alloys.

Walk around the back and the roof spoiler, chunky wings and re-sculpted rear bumper with central diffuser, housing twin chrome exhausts, start to give the game away.

Open the door (5-door only available in the US) and the same rules apply with race-ready Recaro bucket seats, ST logos on the steering and blood-red needles on the instrument panel matching the numbers on the six-speed gear stick.

Yes folks, and parents especially, this is not the cheeky little imp we've loved for over 37 years.

No sir, what we have here is a cold-blooded, clinical racing machine that goes ballistic as soon as you touch the hammer.

It's tiny waif-like body is packing an eye-watering 182bhp which will catapult it from 0-100kph in 6.9 seconds and has a top whack of 220.

The suspension is 15mm lower than the ordinary model and 12pc stiffer giving it superb body control and pinpoint handling.

So what's the down side?

It's called the Jekyll and Hyde effect.

Turn the key in this little beast and the throaty rasp (which is piped into the cabin through speakers) of the 1.6 EcoBoost engine ignites the dark side in every driver.

A spin down to the local shop turns into the last leg of the Circuit of Ireland with under two seconds separating you from victory.

The power is epic and the three-mode traction control with standard torque vectoring (brakes the inside wheel in corners to allow full power whilst exiting) giving the most mediocre of drivers a sense of sheer brilliance.

Couple that with an "overboost function" which delivers 200bhp for 15 second bursts which makes it a serious speed demon.

It's not for the faint-hearted though, and even the most experienced of pilots can get caught out.

Blasting her in a straight line the torque steer is frightening and will only be corrected by lifting the accelerator.

That said, this Fiesta is a brilliant feat of engineering - squeezing that kind of power out of such a small engine and smaller emissions (138g/km) meaning road tax of just €280 a year.

It's got all the mod cons too with electric windows Bluetooth, Ford SYNC; MyKey technology. The ST2 adds LED daytime running lights, partial leather seat trim, air con, privacy glass and push button start.

All very Dr Jekyll ... just keep an eye out for Mr Hyde who is lurking in the shadows.

The Ford Fiesta ST costs €25,760.