The harder, faster Fiesta ST has been nicking most of the limelight recently, but the Zetec S’s warmness gave it much to like before. It was pleasingly compliant around town and at motorway speeds, yet it retained just the right amount of body control on back roads, with keen steering to complete the package.
Sensibly, then, Ford hasn’t messed with the chassis too much for this edition. As in: it hasn’t at all. The Red/Black’s Sport suspension, like the Zetec S’s, sits 10mm lower than standard, with springs that are 12 per cent stiffer than standard at the front, and six per cent stiffer at the rear. The rear’s relative lack of stiffening over the front is compensated by an 11 per cent stiffer torsion beam than the regular Fiesta’s – which is a pretty good car to drive in cooking form too, remember.
Then there’s the steering, which offers “greater torque build up” - or is heavier, to you and me - to feed back information through the rim in shoutier fashion. Wheels are 16in alloys as standard, with 17in alloys (as fitted to our test car) an option.
The chassis, and an engine that’s around 35kg lighter than the 1.6, make the Red/Black Edition cars a real pleasure to drive. If the ST is just a bit too firm for you (and I could understand if your daily grind made it so), the Red/Black retain some of the essential qualities. It’s an agile car, with good turn in and responses, pleasing steering weight, speed and accuracy, and a willingness to be steered on the throttle in the way that Fords do.
The engine’s a willing companion, too. It doesn’t feel as urgent as the Mountune 1.6 did. Its power, inevitably, being turbocharged, arrives in softer fashion, while there’s little rort to get excited about. A mildly satisfying three-cylinder thrum is the best you can hope for, while fewer bangs per revolution means it sounds like it’s working less hard at a given engine speed. Just as well, because it still lacks a sixth gear.