Four pm on a sunny Friday in the heart of Vancouver: chaos and madness, tarmac heat and clogged arterials. I’m in a bright red pinball that looks like a scanning electron microscope photograph of some kinda’ pest – a red bedbug with go-faster racing stripes. My trunk’s awash with umpteen litres of beer, all securely strapped down, bootlegger style.
The mission? Escape. Backyard slouching and a tall glass of craft-brewed parenting fluid beckons. Starter button, one tap on the ESC button for sport mode, grab first, dump-clutch stomp-throttle back-lane exit-strategy zipper-merge thank-you-wave watch-the-flow-and-watch-us-go.
Traffic sucks, but this car rules: welcome to the most fun you can have with your pants on. And it turns out to be a subcompact economy car.
There is no good reason Ford should even be building this car, not when they have the Focus ST to compete with the four-doored GTI and (sort of) the WRX. At the bottom of all reviews on this site, there’s a section for competitors, one which I stared at blankly for several minutes before just bunging a few oddballs in. The ST doesn’t really have any competitors on this side of the pond – we get no Polo GTI, no hot little French subcompacts, no Nismo-ized Micra.
I’m not sure why they build it, but I am so glad they do because there is absolutely no other vehicle I’d rather be in for getting the hell out of the city to the cool green oasis of home. Think about it: would you want to pilot a Ford GT through this treacly mess of Corollas and crossovers? That thing’s built for murdering the Mulsanne straight. Ditto the Mustang: great in the empty canyons, skittish and too-large in a crowded paddock. Focus ST? That’s a little better, but imagine a car even more focused than the Focus, a super-concentrated energy gel packet with wheels that is the perfect blend of low-end turbo gumption, frenetic handling, and slot-into-any-gap compactness. Name it after a Mexican party, apply hood stripes, done.
The Fiesta is not, admittedly, the best looking car on the market. Some angles work, some make it look like a toddler’s Air Jordan, some give the bystander the impression of an enraged aphid. I’d be inclined to buy the blue version to hide some of the gawping grille, but it drives so well it could be Care Bear pink with daisy decals and still be lovable.
Inside, it’s a Fiesta into which someone has bolted a pair of the butt-pinchin’-est seats to ever come out of Italy. Oh wait, Recaro’s a German company – so why do these things grab for the glutes like they should be embroidered with “Berlusconi?” Maybe I need to drink a few fewer beers and run a few more miles.
The rest is acceptable for the subcompact class, with a few nice touches here and there. The navigation and infotainment screen is extremely small, but functional. Voice commands work quite well, at least for flipping between traffic-info AM and upbeat FM rock.