Written by Phil Brown
The average passer-by wouldn’t normally look at a stock Ford Fiesta and think, “oh, I’d like to test that car out on a track.” Slap an ST badge on it, and put four-time X-games gold medalist Tanner Foust behind the wheel, however, and you've created a car enthusiast's wet dream. This is the situation I found myself in last week, when I made the trek out to Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, CA.
At first glance the Ford Fiesta ST is an unassuming, small, hatchback that doesn’t elicit much excitement. But despite looking like a sportier version of a Prius, the Fiesta ST makes up for what it lacks in looks by blowing you away with its on-track performance. It’s essentially the rallycross version of Barry Sanders, because of its ability to nimbly weave in and out of corners and drift effortlessly into the next turn.
Nothing can really prepare you for your first time riding with a professional racing/stunt driver. Not even that time you tried to evade the cops in your car because you and your buddies had four open containers in rotation celebrating life. Nothing. So when I was putting on my racing helmet preparing to hop in the car with Tanner, I was just hoping that we wouldn’t end up having thishappen to us. Much to my relief, there were no jumps on the practice track (although Tanner expressed his dismay), just a series of cones and light poles for us to avoid while going 160 MPH, no big deal.
[The Fiesta ST] is essentially the rallycross version of Barry Sanders.
Once I was strapped into my racing harness, my life was in Tanner’s hands. We did four laps around the track, and between the loud diesel engine sound that that car was making, the smell of burning rubber, and the rate of speed (0-60 in 1.9 seconds) the best way to describe my experience would be to say that riding around a track with Tanner Foust is a lot like riding a roller coaster that isn’t on a secured track: huge margin of error and completely mind-blowing.
There were moments where we were drifting on the track, and I was almost certain that we’d hit a light pole in the lot, but with effortless precision, Tanner stayed narrowly within confines of the track. Without Tanner at the wheel, I can’t imagine the Fiesta ST being quite so fun of a ride. Or maybe I just don’t want to. With an MSRP of almost $22k, I unfortunately won’t be finding out.
And although you won’t be Tanner Foust-ing it in the streets, the Fiesta ST still allows for quick and responsive handling. It has some noteworthy trimmings on the interior, as well. The ST model comes equipped with Recaro Sport seating, which is top-of-the-line for its class. Despite being somewhat terrified riding with the 2013 X-Games champ, the seats acted as somewhat of a hugging, reassuring blanket that kept me firmly in place throughout my ride, curving around my shoulders slightly allowing me to remain secure. The harness I was strapped into definitely played some role in that, but after my ride, I sat in a consumer model and felt the same ergonomically supportive seating.
When my ride was over, I got out and stood beside the Fiesta, mouth agape, inhaling the arid desert air, dizzy, but still fully feeling the adrenaline rush from my ride. I don’t know what other feeling I could compare this to. Well ... maybe the feeling I got when I saw Suge Knight get knocked out in front of a popular Hollywood night club a couple years ago. A Worldstar moment, for real. Other than that, my ride in the Fiesta was second to none.
Check out the in-car GoPro footage that we captured of our ride below. The action starts at about 4:00.