If last week’s first drive of Ford’s new ‘hot’ Fiesta ST left us a little underwhelmed and largely perspiration-free, what chance is there for its deliberately more tepid sibling, the Zetec S, to raise the temperature?A pretty fair one, actually. It has nothing to do with straight-line performance.
The Zetec S comes with a choice of two engines. The 1.6-litre 16-valve Duratec petrol has 49bhp less than the ST’s 148bhp 2.0-litre unit, the 1.6-litre 16-valve TDCi turbodiesel in our test car is down a whopping 59bhp. If you have a pressing need to travel at more than 112mph or accelerate to 60mph in under 11.2sec, then the oil-burning version isn’t for you. The petrol 1.6 won’t help a great deal, either: 114mph and 9.9sec just about square with Ford’s description of ‘lively’. Remember that the ST is a 130mph, sub-eight-to-60mph car.
It isn’t about cornering speed, either. Although the Zetec S shares a few of the ST’s design cues – specifically the roof spoiler, deep front and rear bumper mouldings, mesh front grille and form-hugging front seats (leather optional) – the underpinnings are less aggressively developed. There are 16-inch alloys, 195/45 R16 tyres and standard ride height against the ST’s 17-inch rims, 205/40R17 rubber and lowered suspension.