The official spec for the 5th generation BMW M3 has been revealed and will be powered by a 3.0L straight twin-turbo engine – first M3 to be forced induced, 330kW and 450Nm of torque – 0-100kph in 4.3 seconds! This is the halo performance machine – the ultimate from the M division and makes its international debut at the LA Motor show.
Thegandra Naidoo in conversation with BizRadio’s Grant Jansen
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On the road with the Feisty Ford Fiesta ST
The all-new Ford Fiesta ST is all about good looks, decent power and comes in at a very attractive price.
My dad’s first car was a humble Ford Escort 1600 Sport. Back in its day, it was a raucous car with plenty of oomph and character to take on the likes of the Volkswagen Golf and Renault T5. My dad loved it to bits and often spoke about his daring robot-to-robot dices and high speed outings on the highway.
Like my dad, there are thousands of Ford aficionados in South Africa who have long had love affairs with fast Fords. And, it looks to continue with the arrival of the fastest product Fiesta to date – the all-new Fiesta ST.
Taking the already impressive standard car as a base, Ford has added sporty styling tweaks inside and out that only enhance the regular Fiesta’s looks, while power comes from a 1.6L turbocharged engine. Added to this is a stiffer suspension, a sports exhaust and a pair of very supportive Recaro seats, making the Fiesta ST a thrilling package. The fact that it undercuts its rivals – the Volkswagen Polo GTI and Opel Corsa OPC by around R30 000 – is the cherry on the cake.
The arrival of the Fiesta ST coincides with the face lifted version of the regular Fiesta hatchback. However, the ST gets its own interpretation of the enlarged trapezoidal front grille, flanked by narrow projector headlights. The car also features a more aggressive-looking front bumper, which houses a pair of fog lights.
Fiesta ST is only available in a three-door option, which adds to the sporty look but comes at the expense of practicality. It gets 17″ alloys as standard equipment, plus a chunkier rear wing and chunkier bumper. Inside, Fiesta ST gets supportive Recaro seats, piano black trim and a sports steering wheel, which combine to give the car a smart, subtly sporty look that gives it just enough differentiation from the rest of the Fiesta range. It also gets a Sony audio system, Bluetooth and cruise control, among others.
Ford has two types of performance models – the range-topping RS and warmer ST. As this car falls into the latter category, it’s been designed with everyday usability in mind. The steering is light, direct and offers plenty of feedback. For such a small unit, the engine sounds great, helped by a sound symposer that pipes bassier engine notes into the interior, while throttle response is instant and it shows a good turn of pace.
The engine was developed by Ford’s RS division in Europe. The turbocharged 1.6L petrol engine is claimed to deliver 134kW and 240Nm of torque – enough to catapult the Fiesta ST from 0-00kph in just 6.9 seconds and on to a top speed of 220kph.
The suspension is 15mm lower than the regular car, and around 12 per cent stiffer, which ensures extremely engaging handling and excellent body control. Standard torque vectoring and a three-mode traction control system help, too. And while the Fiesta darts quickly into corners, it never feels nervous or edgy. Unfortunately, the trade-off for such incredible agility is a very firm low speed ride – although it’s more comfortable on the highway.
The Fiesta ST is part of Ford’s One Ford car philosophy. So while it’s a sporty model, it still uses proven tech from elsewhere in the range. The 1.6L engine is fitted to the Kuga, while all cars get SYNC voice activation and Ford’s MyKey programmable key system, which allows the car’s owner to programme a key to limit the car’s speed, mute the stereo unless all seatbelts are on, and flash up more conservative warnings for low fuel. The Fiesta ST shares the regular car’s five-star Euro NCAP safety rating and comes with a full complement of safety kit, including seven airbags and electronic stability control.
Although it’s a performance model, underneath the ST is just a three-door Fiesta, which means that it still retains a useful boot and rear-seat space isn’t too compromised by the chunky Recaro front seats. And as with the standard Fiesta, there’s plenty of useful storage of odds and ends, including a large glove box, deep door bins and numerous cup holders.
The front seats are very comfortable, while the ride is firm but nice and supple. Engine noise is well suppressed at 100kph, too, making it a comfortable car to drive longer distances. However, the addition of the turbocharged engine and six-speed gearbox has increased the Ford’s turning circle, so it can be hard work in crowded car parks.
Like any performance car, the harder you drive, the greater your motoring expenses will be. Ford claims 5.9-litres as a combined fuel cycle for the Fiesta, but this will soon plummet once you hit your favourite back road, or take the car on track. The Fiesta ST is the first Fiesta to feature disc brakes all round, but remember to budget for extra wear on pads, discs and tyres if you plan to do track days – and given how fun the Fiesta is to drive, it’d be a shame not to.
At R254 500, the Fiesta ST is a bargain when compared to rival models. The price includes a 4-year/60,000km service plan as well. I’m sure this should also play a huge part when it comes down to overall cost of ownership. It’s a great car with all the bells-and-whistles that you would need. It’s well-priced and it will give you thousands of kilometres of happy motoring.
What do you know about car batteries?
With the cold and wet days of winter already on our doorstep, finding a dead battery under your bonnet is the last thing you need. Just because your battery is fine and dandy on a lovely day, does not mean it could not be cranky when the weather turns – even if it’s relatively new.
That’s the trouble with batteries – it doesn’t give you an indication of its lifespan before leaving you stranded. Batteries might be more advanced in modern cars but it’s still advisable to have it checked out with a quick test at a battery centre. Often we’ll attribute problems with the battery when it could be the alarm, tracking device or even the immobiliser which could be draining power.
When you do need to replace your battery, rather buy a new one instead of a reconditioned one, or even a cheaper, foreign option. While these alternatives might be a quick fix, they often don’t last long and you’ll have to fork out more cash to purchase another. Cheaper batteries are often sold without guarantees.
Remember, your battery life is also determined by the amount of accessories running off it, like a big sound system, extra lights or tracking devices. In this instance, bigger batteries will suffice but always fit the size specified by the automaker.
· Never add acid or additives to a battery
· Never use a naked flame to look inside the battery cells
· Never create a short circuit between the two terminals to check if the battery still has power – the sparks could cause an explosion
· Jump start principles are very important – negative to body and not terminal as you could blow your battery or damage your ECU or blow the electronics on your vehicle.
Thegandra Naidoo? A motoring journalist. He has a decade’s experience in the automotive industry and is best known for his technical knowledge of cars. He has worked on various local television productions and co-presented a motoring feature on Kaya FM a few years back. He currently holds the position as Features & Online Editor for Automotive Business Review. He is currently completing a mid-career Honours in Journalism and Media Studies degree at the University of the Witwatersrand. Thegandra is a FULL member of the South African Guild of Motoring Journalists.