Ford Fiesta ST-2
Week ending January 31
Miles this week 60
Everyone’s been raving about the Fiesta ST, so I thought it was high time I borrowed it from Euan, its long-term custodian.
In a little under a mile, I could see why. This car makes you feel like an 18-year-old version of yourself: exuberant, giggly and ever so slightly cocksure. This, in turn, makes you drive like that, too. I found myself hanging back in a traffic queue so I could accelerate to catch up to the car in front, just to hear the ST’s engine growl.
It’s simply brilliant fun to drive, but there are a couple of noticeable niggles. First, the firm ride. You can easily forgive the car for this most of the time, as the driving experience more than makes up for it. Thudding repeatedly over the pothole-strewn streets around Twickenham, however, soon got me zig-zagging across the road (when safe to do so, of course) to avoid the worst holes.
I also dislike the overly fussy Sony infotainment system. It looks dated, and is stuffed full of useless, tiny buttons that are tricky to use when on the move. Definitely not intuitive: even changing the radio station takes far too many clicks, prods and pokes.
Plenty of people here have complained about this, both on this car and on the Focus ST-2 we ran last year; a new system can’t come soon enough for me.
By Melanie Falconer
Week ending January 24
Miles this week 761
Last week I was waxing lyrical about how my Fiesta ST is proving a great winter car, because the heated windscreen defrosts itself in just a couple of minutes after it’s switched on.
Well, unfortunately, that same screen has fallen victim to a low-flying stone, which has chipped it just ahead of me. I’m going to head for a screen repairer’s as quickly as possible before the damage gets any worse, because I have a feeling a heated screen will not be a cheap item to replace.
By Euan Doig
Week ending January 17
Miles this week 342
So, Hot Hatch of the Year, eh? Not bad, and well deserved, because the Fiesta is the best, most engaging hot hatch I’ve driven in years.
My Fiesta is hot in other ways too – such as on a frosty morning. Jump in, switch on the demist and heated front and rear windows, then get on with scraping the side windows.
By the time you’ve done those, the windscreen and rear window are clear and the heated driver’s seat is nicely warmed up. The heater even warms the car up pretty quickly. That takes the sting out of the morning commute.
By Euan Doig
Week ending January 10
Miles this week 200
So the news is out: the Ford Fiesta ST-2 is our Hot Hatch of the Year for 2014, and a very worthy winner it is too. I drove our long-termer ST-2 last weekend, and was blown away - all over again - by its mix of raw performance, superb control weights and astonishing agility. There really is nothing that can match it for fun this side of £25k.
Negatives? I found one - and it stares you in the face pretty much the whole time. It's the stereo, which is the 'upgraded' Sony unit that's been found in many a Ford over the years. I'm sure tying up with the Japanese electronics giant seemed like a good idea at the time, but these days it looks increasingly like an old 1990s hi-fi, with more than a dozen (small) buttons and a central controller that has at least four different functions.
Look at it this way: I left the office trying to find Radio 4 on the Fiesta's DAB presets. It wasn't there. By 10 minutes into my drive home I'd started trying to find it anywhere on the DAB network. I couldn't. In the end I gave up and switched to FM.
Okay, so the Fiesta's the sort of car where you should be hearing the exhaust note instead of the Today programme. Nor am I that much of a stickler on sound quality that I'll complain about FM over DAB. However, I can't forgive Sony and Ford for such an appalling user interface. Keep it simple, chaps.
By John McIlroy