The hill climb at Goodwood has claimed its fair share of cars over the years, having never driven the track at all, my only knowledge of the course was driving it virtually while playing Gran Turismo 6, not the greatest preparation you may be thinking.
Now it was time for me to attempt the famous hill climb myself, my car of choice was the new Ford Fiesta ST200 as part of the Goodwood moving motor show with the aim of bringing the car home safely without any hay or wall related incidents ruining mine and Ford’s day.
The day in question was far from perfect for a hill climb, given that the weather was typically English summertime with non-stop rain up until the moment I arrived at the historic Goodwood House.
The current model Fiesta has been with us a while now, originally launched in 2008 which was followed by the face-lifted model in 2012 which thankfully gave us the current Fiesta ST model.
As the current-gen Fiesta approaches the end of it’s production run, Ford have given us a final parting gift in the form of the ST200. This revised version features a power upgrade to 200PS giving rise to the new name, the ST200 also has an overboost feature giving you a brief addition of an extra 15PS to play with, to keep the extra power and torque in check, the car features uprated driving dynamics in the form of an all-new electronic stability control system combined with a new enhanced torque vectoring system. This is assisted by uprated suspension components and bigger brakes with further enhancements to the power steering set-up.
As I started my assault of the hill climb, the first thing that stands out is the noise of the car, it’s a nice full-bodied growl that encourages you to push it further and faster, the additional engine power can be easily used as the engine is nicely free-revving with a smooth continuous power and torque delivery throughout the rev-banding.
The ST200’s handling just what you would expect from Ford, utterly excellent, poised and balanced, the turn in is crisp and totally sharp, you can feel the enhanced torque vectoring system and all-new electronic stability control system working away in front of you as you turn into corners and as you accelerate out of corners.
As history and physics have always demonstrated the major issue of putting this much power through the front wheels whilst also asking them to steer the car can be an issue, not with the ST200 however, Ford have done an amazing job here with the enhanced torque vectoring system, there is virtually no feeling of torque steer at all, the ST200 feels planted and agile in equal measure.
The enhancements to the power steering set-up provide you with a drive with plenty of feel and feedback, the revised brakes feel potent and again have plenty of feel and feedback, the gear change is crisp with perfectly positioned ratios that allow you to push the car quickly to its limits, combining these elements just make the ST200 a great drive throughout.
When you put the ST200 up against its nearest rivals, the Volkswagen Polo GTI and the Peugeot 208 GTI, you can easily see why the Fiesta ST has been such a huge success for Ford, whilst Its rivals are both excellent cars the ST200 now matches them in the power stakes while providing a more dynamic, entertaining drive meaning it is the king of the small hot-hatch sector by some distance.
The ST200 is priced at £22,745 and includes a majority of the optional kit featured on the ST-3 model as standard plus the power increase and all of the handling enhancements, even if you were to spec an essential option such as rear-parking sensors priced at a very reasonable £200, the overall price still makes for excellent value for how much car you’re getting for your money.
My drive in the ST200 was a brief one, however my conclusion is that if you’re in the market for a small hot hatch, simply don’t look any further, the ST200 is a car that you can use every day with ease, its comfortable, spacious, fast and offers a very rewarding drive that its rivals simply cannot match up to, the whole package combined for the money will get you the very best small hot hatch currently available in the UK.