For the price, driving the Fiesta feels a bit naughty, as if maybe you have stolen a more expensive car than you can actually afford… (more…)

Whatever the financial circumstances, young buyers will surely share the desire for a car that is economical to operate… (more…)

Whether you just drive it around the city or beyond, the Fiesta one-litre is a sturdy road companion with impressive fuel economy.” (more…)

This Fiesta ST is a gem in the subcompact class, delivering great economy, fabulous interior and plenty of smiles…

Ford has done an excellent job of using its worldwide expertise to bring some very practical, yet fun to drive, small cars to North America.

Using Europeans to build the Ford Focus and Fiesta for a worldwide market enabled the manufacturer to bring these superb handling cars virtually unchanged to our shores. On top of that, Ford is also selling their sportiest ST versions of both these cars. The Focus ST was introduced last year and this year we get the Fiesta ST “hot hatch”.

I’ve been a huge fan of the Fiesta. In fact, I prefer it to the bigger Focus, it is a perfect city runabout with go-cart like handling and a stylish little package.


For 2014, all Fiesta models get a minor facelift with a new front grille and headlights. The ST is easy to spot because of the black honeycomb grille with an ST badge, bigger alloy wheels, a rear spoiler hanging over the rear window, a bigger rear air diffuser with twin exhaust tips and blacked out trim around the windows. The ST looks like it means business. There are two exterior options that might be worth the money. Upgraded paint colours like ‘Molten Orange’ or ‘Green Envy Metallic’ cost $400 and the smoked grey wheels with red brake calipers cost $500 more. The base ST at $24,999 comes very well equipped and is ready to cause some trouble.


The first thing that pops right out on the ST interior are the two heavily bolstered Recaro sports seats. These are not meant for big people, you just won’t fit. They are snug and supportive but lack some simple, yet important adjustments. The front of the seat sits much higher than the back so your backside is very low with your knees pointing up. This produces a sporty feel initially but on longer trips, the lack of adjustment prevents the driver from being able to stretch their legs.

The dash has been updated to include a MyFord Touch screen for radio, phone, navigation and climate functions. The screen is rather small and far away from the driver, which makes accessing the small, virtual buttons on the screen a challenge. However, it does look much better than the older Fiesta dash.

The ST comes standard with very powerful front seat heaters, automatic climate control, a fat leather steering wheel with redundant radio controls and a leather covered manual shifter. The back seat has always been tight in the Fiesta; this is perfect for a single person or couple, not the best for a family.


In an era of cars that almost drive themselves, the Fiesta ST is a throwback to a timewhen the driver felt connected to the machine. The suspension is much firmer than the regular Fiesta, almost harsh over bumpy roads but the feedback to the driver through the tight steering ratio, firm chassis and the grippy Recaro seats is superb. The turbocharged, direct injection 1,6L Ecoboost engine pumps out 197hp. Only sold with a super-slick manual transmission that shifts with no effort at all and the clutch is precise.

In such a small car, this engine lets the driver do pretty much anything at will. Want to pass on the highway? No problem. Want to scoot away from a traffic light? No effort at all. This really is a car that does everything very well, including getting good fuel economy when the throttle is used lightly: using only 7.8L/100km in the city and 5.6L on the highway.


At $24,999, the price might seem a bit steep for a subcompact car but this little machine comes almost fully loaded for that price. The options available are not “must have” items so the price can be kept in check. This Fiesta ST is a gem in the subcompact class, delivering great economy, fabulous interior and plenty of smiles. The ST just delivers much bigger smiles.

Contact: zack [dot] spencer [at] drivewaybc [dot] ca

The Lowdown

Power: 1.6L turbo with 197hp

Fill-up: 7.9L/5.6L/100km (city/highway)

Sticker price: $24,999

Good looking and fun to drive, Ford Fiesta is a miserly fuel user and small car with a lot to offer…

BM Ford Fiesta 01

Ford bounced back into the Canadian small car market in a big way with the return of Fiesta for the 2011 model year.

Sleek, modern styling lines, peppy performance, great fuel economy and an attractive price made the new Fiesta was a hit straight out of the gate.

Ford claimed it set new industry benchmarks in small car safety and in-car media connectivity. Although it has strong European roots, the North American version of Fiesta is made in Mexico. It comes in a five-door hatchback body style plus a four-door sedan, which was not sold in Europe. The 2011 Fiesta also came in S, SE, SEL and SES trim levels.

Power comes from a Ti-VCT 1.6-litre 4-cylinder engine with twin variable camshaft timing that can provide up to 120 horsepower and peek torque is 112 ft-lb at 5000 rpm. Fuel consumption is rated at 6.9 L/100 km in the city and 5.1 L/100 km on the highway (which is about 56 mpg) with the optional automatic.

Some extra (passing) power would be nice at higher speeds, but there’s no problem getting a Fiesta up to a freeway cruising speed. It’s surprisingly quick off its mark from a standing start and the mid-range power available is also impressive, for a small engine.

The standard transmission is a 5-speed manual but the optional PowerShift six-speed automatic was a completely new (direct-shift) high-efficiency unit. Fundamentally, it is two manual transmissions inside one gearbox with shifts that are electronically activated using a dual-clutch feature, similar to the Audi/VW DSG transmission.

Inside, the centre dash layout (audio etc.) was cell phone inspired, with an eye to attracting younger buyers. SES and SEL trim levels also come with steering wheel-mounted audio controls, a multi-function info screen and a unique ambient lighting system allows drivers to choose between seven interior accent lighting colors.

Rear legroom is limited, like most in this class, and the seat is a 60/40 split-fold design. Nothing clever here, the seatbacks simply flop forward on top of the seat cushion and allow more cargo space, it’s more a more useful feature in the hatchback.

Fiesta comes with seven standard airbags, one more than the norm. The extra driver’s knee airbag helps prevent leg injuries and better positions the driver to survive a serious frontal impact. It’s also constructed to comply with European pedestrian (impact) safety requirements. Electronic stability control and anti-lock brakes came standard on all trim levels, which is unusual in an ultra cost-conscious market segment.

A tilt and telescopic steering wheel is another unexpected standard on all versions of Fiesta. The electric-assist steering system has progressively firmer feel as vehicle speed increases. It also incorporates ‘pull-drift compensation’ feature to help the Fiesta track straighter in strong side winds and another feature, called ‘active nibble control,’ dampens wheel/road vibrations at the steering wheel.

While changes for 2012 were minor, they did include an integrated driver’s seat armrest on SE, SEL and SES trim levels. Remote start and keypad entry also became new options on SE, SEL and SES. The top SEL and SES trim levels were replaced with a new Titanium trim package for 2013.

Both sedan and hatchback versions of Fiesta got “Top Safety Pick” ratings based of crash test results done by the IIHS (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety). On the down side, Consumer Reports rated Fiesta “below average” for reliability. The most troublesome areas appear to be power and audio equipment and the transmission (some software glitches/automatic).

Good looking and fun to drive, Ford Fiesta is a miserly fuel user and small car with a lot to offer.

Price Check: 2011 to 2013 Ford Fiesta (March 2014)

Year                    Edition                                                 Expect to Pay Today

2011              Hatchback SE                                                  $9,000 to $12,000

2012              Hatchback SE                                                 $11,000 to $14,000

2013              Hatchback SE                                                 $13,000 to $16,000

Prices vary depending on a used vehicle’s condition, mileage, usage and history. A complete mechanical check should always be performed by a reliable auto technician prior to purchase.

Safety Recalls: 2010 to 2013 Ford Fiesta:

2013: The Tire and Loading Information Label may contain incorrect tire size and inflation pressure information. Dealers will inspect and install a revised label, if necessary.

2011/2012/2013: The Restraint Control Module may turn OFF the right side air curtain, as well as the front passenger seat-mounted side airbag, when the Occupant Classification System (OCS) senses the right front seat is not occupied. This could increase the risk of injury to a right rear seat occupant in a collision. Dealers will reprogram the Restraint Control Module.

Contact: bob [dot] mchugh [at] drivewaybc [dot] ca

The Ford Fiesta ST makes the list because, in all the years that I’ve been testing vehicles, I have never been as tempted to impulse buy a car…

2013 Nissan NV200
2013 Nissan NV200
2014 Fiesta ST
2014 Fiesta ST
Bentley Continental GT Speed Convertible
Bentley Continental GT Speed Convertible
Bentley Continental GT Speed
Bentley Continental GT Speed
Bridgestone Racing Academy
Bridgestone Racing Academy
Nissan NV200 Cargo Van
Nissan NV200 Cargo Van

Before looking ahead with hope for a promising new year, indulge me while I check my rearview mirror.

My review of 2013 might offer you some thoughts to ponder for your 2014. I tried to count how many cars I tested last year. I tried. However, I could only come up with an approximate figure. And it comes in at around 102. That’s a lot of vehicles. And it doesn’t even include motorcycles, ATVs, ROVs and anything else that you could consider some sort or transportation or recreational vehicle.

So, within that lot, you have to either be pretty good or pretty bad to stand out.

Though, there were a few surprises along the way that made the list.

Here are the cars that stuck with me and still leave me wanting more (or less).

Making the top of my list as the most memorable car that I drove is not what you’d expect. It’s the 2013 Nissan NV200 Cargo Van. (Say what?)

Without taking up too much space, I fell in love with its utility, its practicality and its ability to be a workhorse, even though it only has 131 horsepower. In the city, it fit in underground parking lots and surprisingly had pep.

Visibility is non-existent out the rear and there was no vanity mirror, but it was just an admirable vehicle to drive. And it even fits a motorcycle inside. I’m not a small business owner who could fully make use of its adaptability, but I made Costco runs, helped a friend move and transported audio equipment for a band with which I occasionally sing. I just love it.

The 2014 Ford Fiesta ST makes the list because, in all the years that I’ve been testing vehicles, I have never been as tempted to impulse buy a car. For under $25K you get a firecracker of a car, a manual transmission, 197 horsepower and an amazing chassis setup. For an everyday driver and a car you could put on the track, it’s just stellar. The smile on your face when driving is included in the price tag.

The least bang for your buck, that I tested, comes with the 2013 BMW 320i xDrive. At $46,500, that’s pretty steep for a car that doesn’t even have a backup camera or streaming Bluetooth audio. Not to mention, it comes with a humble 181 horsepower engine. That said, it’s a BMW, therefore has some nice touches to it. Put it in Sport mode, tinker with the throttle and you’ll instantly become a happier person. And for everyday driving, I really had no complaints.

My favourite convertible of the year goes to the Bentley Continental GT Speed drop top. It’s not hard to see why. Yes, I could have opted for the Porsche Boxster S (it came so close and is hundreds of thousands of dollars cheaper) but I hand the title to the Brits because I love the craftsmanship. After all, that’s what luxury is all about. Getting inside and feeling like you’re in your living room, albeit a posh and exquisitely detailed living room. And one that has 616 horsepower and all-wheel drive. Sign me up.

It’s always a fabulous time when I can be behind the wheel of a racecar. I had two opportunities. The first came when I participated in the Bridgestone Racing Academy at the Driver Development Track at the Canadian Tire Motorsport Park. Two days behind the wheel of a Van Diemen Formula car was heaven. And I learned a thing or two about car control (

Then, I drove a track ready vehicle that was super fast and zero emissions. Nissan’s world renowned LEAF was available for laps at the manufacturer’s international event called Nissan 360. But this one was a little more special. It was the LEAF NISMO RC (RC stands for race car) and had been on tracks around the world. It was lightening fast and of course, a very memorable experience.

And while I loved most of all the cars I drove in 2013, adding the 2014 VW Touareg TDI to the family was certainly a highlight of my year.

Contact: alexandra [dot] straub [at] drivewaybc [dot] ca

  • Recent Comments

    • Andrew Ross { Enjoyed your Forest of Bowland in the BMW X5M, particularly the photo of the BMW in front of the main part of Stonyhurst College where... }
    • Davd Randall { Bantam designed the Jeep, not Willy's or Ford. The American military gave the original Bantam prototype to Willys and Ford to copy. There is plenty... }
    • Elliott Parodi { All Escalades come with a 6.2-lilter V8 engine that produces 420 horsepower. A six-speed automatic is the only transmission offered and drives the rear wheels.... }
    • Ev { Alexandra is an excellent journalist. }