GRR garage: A family gathering for our Ford Fiesta ST

11th July 2019
Ben Miles

Fast Fords, we think they’ve been around forever by now. The Volkswagen Golf GTi may have, at least for most of us, invented the hot hatch, but it was Ford who truly pioneered the “win on Sunday, sell on Monday” approach to flogging cars to the ordinary man on the street.


Sure, plenty of manufacturers have long racing pedigree, but the likes of Aston Martin, Ferrari, Jaguar et al weren’t selling their wares to the general John on the street. You weren’t seeing a proliferation of DB4s down your local cul-de-sac, no matter how many titles Aston Martin won in 1959.

But with Ford there is a proper connection to that bloke next to you in the office. Think Jim Clark in a Cortina in the British Saloon Car Championship, or in the same car on the RAC rally. Move later and think Andy Rouse in a Sierra. All these racing superstars received a road equivalent. Whether it was Lotus breathing on the Cortina or Cosworth helping give the Sierra that little extra, the man on the street could dream of driving the car they just saw blast the opposition.

And it’s not just the bigger cars which received the faster on-road treatment Ford began to breathe on their smaller kit as well, the Escort became famous for rallying before the effect tricked down to the smallest stuff in the range. That history remains today, which is why we took our wonderful Mk8 Fiesta ST to meet its forefathers recently, beginning with that very first hot Fiesta: the XR2.


Ford very kindly provided us with almost the complete lineage of the hot Fiesta. Starting with an awesome red XR2 – complete with rally-style fog lights and XR2 graphics – through the first car to wear the ST badge, the stunning ST200 limited edition and, of course, our Mk8.

The story remains the same, a rough modern cost of around £20k, a lightweight hatchback and a decent whack of power. The XR2 is difficult to drive by today’s standards, but once you get the hang of it an absolute joy, the first ST provides a starting point, albeit one that has been quickly outclassed, and the ST200 showed the way from Mk7 to Mk8.


We were able to spend a day messing around with these cars, and the one thing it showed was that Ford haven’t strayed far from the original idea. Bigger hot hatches have got just that, bigger and bigger. Bigger size, bigger engines, bigger everything, including the price. The small hot Ford still has a little 1.5-litre engine (it produces 200PS now though) and is still as compact as a modern Supermini can be (albeit now much, much bigger than the XR2) and focuses on driver engagement rather than just being wildly fast.


Ford have learned something from every iteration of the hot Fiesta, and rather than trying to bring a revolutionary change, have gone down the strongest side of evolution instead. It means the ST is almost unmatched in the small hot hatch world. And that we’re very, very excited for the Mk9. Look out for the video soon.

MPG this week: 32.2.

Photography by Joe Harding.

  • GRR Garage

  • Ford

  • Fiesta

  • XR2

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