Exclusive first drive of the US spec 2014 Ford Fiesta ST

by Bryan Redeker, Fiesta Movement Agent

          Out of everything I did in Brazil for the X Games and the Fiesta Movement, my favorite moment was the one not captured on film or with anyone with me. It wasn’t hanging out with Tanner, Ken, or Brian. It wasn’t talking rally with ESPN. It wasn’t even being the first to repel down the most powerful dam in the world. It was the 20 minutes I spent with a Fiesta ST prototype. Even with the first Fiesta Movement, the program has always been about the car. The car was the star, and not me or Brandon. I never saw the program as a way to get more YouTube views or more friends online. It has always been about the connection between man and machine. I spent a day filming with both Fiesta ST’s at the Iguassu Falls, and almost instantly, I felt connected to the cars. After filming with the Performance Blue Fiesta ST and Molten Orange ST pace car, it was time to get the cars back to the GRC paddocks. The only problem was there were too many cars and not enough drivers who could drive a stick. I offered my services to transport the Performance Blue ST. Doing so would make me the first person outside of Ford Motor Company to drive a US spec Ford Fiesta ST.

          The Fiesta ST fires up with the same push-to-start as the regular Fiesta and you get more exhaust note at ignition. A slight blip of the throttle is rewarded with the sound of a spooling turbo. The ESC OFF button is next to the shifter, right where it should have been from day 1. I turned it off because nobody should ever drive a car with a system that limits hooning. The gear lever is shorter than the regular car, but not as short as the Ford Racing shifter. It is also not as tight, but most consumers would want it that way. Leaving the falls under the watchful eyes of security personal, the ST is not much different than your normal car. It gets a ton of stares and you sit more like you would in a fighter plane than a compact car with the highly bolstered Recaro seats. I was now strapped in behind the wheel of a 197hp, 1.6L turbocharged rocket with miles of smooth Brazilian asphalt under me.

          Once past the eyes of armed security, I jump on the throttle in 2nd gear and the ST springs to life. There isn’t any torque steer as the trees quickly become blurred. The turbo spools with the sound a jet engine. The intake and exhaust notes create a symphony of mechanical music in the cockpit. Let off of the throttle to shift into 3rd and there is a loud Pffffffffffffffttttttttt from the waste gate. Oh yea, this thing makes real turbo sounds. For the next few miles I left the car in 4th and just revved the engine under load to listen to the turbo spool and waste gate release excess pressure. My face began to hurt from all the smiling and laughing that was going on with all the turbo foolishness. I giggled like a child with each release of air from the blow off valve. The next few miles were spent downshifting, accelerating, and shifting into 4th in order to hear all the glorious sounds coming from the ST.

          The area around the falls is full of these small raccoon looking animals called Coatis’. Of course being curious little guys, one ran out in front of the ST while I was listening to all the turbo sounds. I jumped on the brakes and the ST came to a stop with an incredible amount of force. The upgraded pads, larger rotors, and rear rotors have the effect of a brick wall then the middle pedal is pushed down. The pad compound is grabby, but that is normal for brakes that don’t have many miles on them. The pedal feels very firm and it was easy to modulate braking during the panic stop. I let the little guy waddle across the road, which was fine since it gave me an excuse to accelerate from a dead stop and run the car through the gears again. The ST quickly caught back up to the rest of the convoy and the car sure accelerates faster than I would have expected it to. Even with the AC on, the engine just loves to pull.

           I decided to test out the handling by slaloming around the reflectors on the center of the road. I fully expected the ST to have a softer suspension than the Ford Racing suspension I have installed on my Fiesta. Typically, the Ford Racing guys get to have a more enthusiastic suspension than the production guys will allow. Not the case at all! The ST is much stiffer than the Ford Racing suspension, and the rear is vastly stiffer in roll. The steering input is also more precise than the regular Fiesta with summer tires and the FRPP suspension. The ST carves the slalom with the precision of a scalpel and the car wants you to go faster and push harder. It changes direction more like a F1 car or a go-kart instead of a bubbly hatchback. I felt like I could pick a pebble on the road and make the car clip it with the edge of a tire. This car will dominate autocrosses.

          We arrived at the GRC paddocks and the fun was over. The Fiesta ST provides a level of joy that I have not felt from a car in a very long time. I have driven all sorts of pricey sports cars and muscle cars and none of them have made such a huge impression on me. I thought for sure that the Focus ST would still be the car for me since it would be impossible for any car to beat it. I was wrong; the Fiesta ST is vastly more fun, more engaging, and full of more sounds than the Focus. The Fiesta ST simply works perfectly. It doesn’t isolate the driver from the mechanical bits and sounds that make a car fun to drive. It doesn’t hide anything; instead, it puts all of those things in tune with your body. The result is a compact car that is an extension of the driver. A shifter kart with a roof. Of everything I did in Brazil, I would have not thought a 20 minute drive would become the icing on a very exciting cake. Yes, the Fiesta ST is that good.

Team updates as of April 12th 2013

     Bryan and Brandon have been very busy over the past few weeks on a number of projects. A few of the projects are still top secret, but will be revealed over the next few weeks. In public news, Bryan has purchased a new Ford Racing Performance Parts exhaust system for the 2011 Ford Fiesta. The installation of the exhaust is scheduled to take place later in April. Brandon and Bryan are also going to be installing a new brake, wheel, and tire package on a 2007 Mustang Shelby GT. Normal spring housekeeping projects are planned for the 1984 Mustang and 2003 Mustang Mach1.

     The team has a number of car events planned this spring, including the annual Indiana SAAC Shelby Mustang car show being held in Nashville Indiana over the 3rd weekend in May. Bryan and Brandon are also in talks about attending the Focus Rising car show in Carlisle PA in June. A trip to Kart2Kart in Detroit is also planned for June. The summer schedule includes a number of Autocross events with the Furrin Group and a possible Rallycross race. It is setting up to be a very busy summer!

     Finally, and update on the Fiesta Movement. Bryan and Brandon have been assigned a top secret mission that will be revealed over the next few weeks. Keep an eye out on www.youtube.com/BRGT350 and the @BRGT350 and @racetech0722 Twitter accounts for clues about the mission. This will be an epic mission that you will not want to miss.

2011 Ford Fiesta SES Modifications

Since my 2011 Fiesta has been in a constant state of evolution, I thought it would be a good idea to catalog all the changes the car has seen since July 2010.

3dCarbon body kit
Ford of Europe rear spoiler
Removed SES badge and radio antenna
3M DiNoc Carbon Fiber wrap on the rear hatch strip and LED bezels
MorePowerTuning grille insert
Ford Sport Appearance Package black headlamps
Hella H9 High Performance Zenon low beam bulbs with Racetech harness
Phillips HIR high beam bulbs

Suspension and Brakes;
Ford Racing Handling pack (lowering springs, struts, and shocks)
Steeda lower transverse engine mount
Axis 17” Touring Cup wheels painted Oxford White (summer)
Yokohama P215/40 17 Parada tires (summer)
PumaSpeed 300mm brake caliper adapters (summer)
Centric 300mm SVT Focus brake rotors (summer)
ATE Super Blue DOT 4 brake fluid

Engine and Drivetrain;
Boesch Built Cold Air Intake
K&N Conical Filter
Steeda Tri-X Short Throw Shifter

Ford Accessories black and metallic shift knob
Ford Accessories metallic pedal covers
Ford Accessories metallic door sill plates
3M DiNoc Carbon Fiber wrapped HVAC and shifter trim

The Fiesta Movement application video is now live!

The Fiesta Movement application video is now live! Brandon and I have teamed up to give the Fiesta Movement another shot and hopefully with the new 197hp, 2014 Fiesta ST. Maybe we will be lucky enough to get one in Performance Blue or Oxford White. If we are selected, we have a number of exciting things planned for the car over the duration of the program. As mentioned in our application video, we will be taking the ST to a number of autocross events across the region. The two of us would also attend a professional driver’s school and talk to the Ford engineers that created the hot hatch. Since Brandon and I are always modifying cars, we would head over to Ford Racing to see what parts they have in store for the new ST. Since the Fiesta ST will be a hot car for the SEMA show, Brandon and I would like to work with Ford Racing to develop a ST that showcases the car as a tuner platform. Be sure to check out the application video on the BRGT350 YouTube page, or on the Video page of the Racetech0722 website. We have a lot of exciting things planned for the Fiesta Movement: A Social Remix!

The Fiesta Movement is back!

The Fiesta Movement is back! Yeah, that is right, the Fiesta Movement is coming back to introduce the 2014 Ford Fiesta. Ford is looking for 100 agents to drive a number of new Fiesta models, including the 197hp turbocharged Fiesta ST. If you are interested in applying, check out www.fiestamovement.com for more information. As you may recall, I was agent 22 for the original Fiesta Movement and worked side by side with my brother, Brandon. He was behind the scenes of everything we did with the Fiesta. This time, we are applying as a team and Brandon will be out front instead of hiding behind the camera.

 Brandon and I spent 4 hours filming the application video using 3 different HD cameras, 9 difference lenses, wireless microphones, a film crew, and captured over 20GB of raw footage. The end result will be an application video that we hope will land us back in the Fiesta Movement and possibly with the new Fiesta ST. There is no doubt that Brandon and I are perfect for the Fiesta ST. We have both owned SVT products in the past and have a passion for performance compact cars. The two of us have been active in the autocross and online automotive community. Together, we understand the ST buyer more than anyone else possibly could.

We know the gearhead demographic because we are the gearhead demographic. We are the ones that buy performance cars and constantly tweak them to be unique. People like us are the ones that actually put our money into what we drive. We get excited to buy brake pads and tires. Brandon and I might not have millions of views on YouTube, or tens of thousands of friends on Facebook, but we are plugged in with the car community. The car community is the group that spends money for the latest sports car or the newest part to get them extra performance. That makes the group more commercially vital than people who blindly click “like” on websites. Brandon and I are not actors, we are car guys. We are car guys who love cars and enjoy talking to others who love cars like we do. The passion we have for everything automotive, including the Fiesta, is something that can’t be replaced by online popularity.

Brandon and I are ready to come back and launch the 2014 Fiesta. The two of us have learned new tricks and have new equipment to use for the missions. The Fiesta Movement was a fantastic program, and we were fortunate to be part of the original. Now it is time for us to return and launch the new Fiesta, including the ST. Join us as embark on the application process in hopes of being part of the third chapter of the Fiesta Movement.

Fiesta Movement: Social Remix

My Auto Import Center Autocross Review

Saturday marked the first autocross for my new 2011 Ford Fiesta with an event presented by the Furrin Group at My Auto Import Center in Muskegon Michigan. The event is run annually on the third weekend of September, and the course is the same each year. That is a huge help for me, since most Furrin autocrosses end with me spending most of my runs being lost in a sea of cones. There was something that made this event different for me, and that was the wet weather.

I woke to a decent thunderstorm Saturday morning that lasted until around 9:00 am, and light rain that continued off and on thru the morning. I arrived at the course around 10am for car prep and to walk the course. The run order dictated that my group, ST, would be running in the first heat when the track would be the dampest. My first run was very slow as I tried to remember the course and get a feel for how much or little traction was out there. The second run was much faster, but suffered wheel spin at most corners since it was still wet. By my third run, the course had a defined dry line with only a few corners being wet. If I had a shot at a good time, this would be it.

I got the ok to launch from the starter, and brought the engine revs up to where I thought would be a good spot. Sadly, I had the revs too high, and the car suffered horrible wheel hop before the traction control took over and reduced power. I regained traction and shifted quickly into second, which broke traction again causing some slight gearbox noise and the reactivation of the traction control system. Power was again cut going to the front wheels as I entered the slalom. Going around the tight sweeper, which was still very wet, the tires broke loose at exit onto the back straight. Each time the car lost traction, the computer cuts engine power until traction is restored. The actual straight was dry, so the computer let me use the engine to head towards the Chicago Box. The braking zone was wet, and the ABS activated for a split second, which it had earlier going into the back sweeper. After the Chicago Box came the front sweeper and I had decent traction going around that which leads into the small straight against the dealer’s service department. There is a slight bump leading onto the straight, that usually sends my Mustang into a spin, but the Fiesta felt well planted. I then entered the back sweeper again, but from the opposite side as the first run and suffered again from traction loss at exit. One last time on the short back straight before a chicane lead me towards the timing lights. Overall, a clean run, but with a horrible launch. The last run would have to be perfect to make up for the bad launch on my third run.

The Fiesta was a few cars away from launching on the final run when the sky opened up with a rain shower. The course was soaked and the dry line had vanished. Puddles were forming in the braking zones and at the back sweeper. I ran the Fiesta as hard as I could in those conditions, but the traction control would just stop the engine whenever wheel spin was detected. The launch was good, but I was bleeding time around the sweepers due the loss of traction and the activation of the wheel spin nanny. I tried too hard to make up time on the straights by braking as late as possible, but I just about lost control going into the chicane before the timing lights. I was on the brakes too late and too hard going into the chicane, and the rear stepped out. The ESC activated and kept me from taking out the timing lights. Thanks computer, I needed you on that one.

As it turned out, my third run was my fastest, even with the poor launch. The Fiesta handled very well and was easy to drive on course. Being able to turn off the traction control would have probably helped since I would have not suffered the loss of engine power at the corner exit. It is easier to deal with wheel spin using the throttle than having the computer do it. The computer just pulls too much power in hopes of gaining traction, which left me with my foot planted at the exit of a corner and zero response from the engine. I took forth with a Honda Prelude 4-wheel-steering taking first. Second place went to a 1997 Probe GT, and third a Focus ZX3. Only 2.1 seconds separated all 4 cars, and I had the least amount of power by a decent margin. The heavy 17” wheels slowed the Fiesta down and were the reason why I was placed in ST instead of HS. Considering having the least powerful car in the class, and a traction control system that can’t be turned off, I was very happy with how the Fiesta did compared to the other cars in its class. Next season will bring a more powerful Fiesta, along with a return of the CP Mustang. It should be an exciting 2011 season!

Final Results

1T ST 94 Zac M 94 Honda Prelude SI 4WS 56.472+DNF 50.509 49.898+DNF 50.637 50.509
2T ST 85 Thomas F 97 Ford Probe GT 56.555 51.060 48.867+1 50.884 50.867 0.358
3 ST 26 Brett R 03 Ford Focus 51.016 50.959+1 49.481+1 49.931+1 51.016 0.149
4 ST 07 Bryan R 11 Ford Fiesta 59.638 53.200 52.636 52.817 52.636 1.620
5 ST 47 William G Saab 900s 62.724+DNF 58.551 56.604 56.267 56.267 3.631

2011 Ford Fiesta Gallery

My Auto Import Center Autocross Gallery

XPEL Headlight Film Installation


            One of the many downfalls of living in Michigan is putting up with the damage to your car caused by winter and terrible roads. A trip down the highway blasts your car with salt, sand, brine, ice, rocks, and the occasional rusted part falling off a truck. All of this abuse leaves the front of your car looking pretty rough. One part that is very susceptible to damage is the headlights. They are on the front lines of battle, and after a few winters, they deserve a purple heart and a desk job. Sadly, that doesn’t happen. To help protect the lenses from sand/rock abrasion and chips, I installed headlight protection film from XPEL on my 2011 Ford Fiesta.

            The XPEL Headlamp Protection Film is a multi-layered clear film that is composed of a scratch resistant top coat, 27mil polyurethane film, and a special adhesive. The film is much thicker than the body protection films, which helps dissipate energy from an impact. The film has exceptional levels of gloss, which is nice since most headlights turn dull and yellow over time. The film can be ordered in either clear, smoke, yellow, or blue. I picked the clear since I want to be sure to have the most amount of light placed on the road when driving in the winter. Since the Fiesta lacks fog lamps, I didn’t want to dim the only lights I have.

            The kit arrived with 2 precut sheets for the headlamps, and 2 for the LED parking lamps. Also included is a squeegee and instructions for the installation. I started by cleaning the headlamp to make sure it was free of dirt, wax, oils, or dead bugs. Before peeling off the backing, I double checked the fitment of each sheet to be sure they were going to fit. Sure enough, everything looks to be cut right to size. I then mixed a solution of 10% rubbing alcohol with water and used a spray bottle to soak the headlamp. I also sprayed down my hands to make sure I did not leave any fingerprints on the film. The next step is to remove the backing from the adhesive, and spray the backside of the film with the solution. With everything coated with solution, its time to place the film on the headlamp.

            With the film resting on the headlight lens, I used the squeegee to start displacing the solution from the center of the headlamp to the edges. The film slowly starts to adhere to the lens at this point, but a heat gun helps to get the film to conform to the very complex headlamp. Using the lowest heat setting, I gently heated the film until it began to flex. At that point, the squeegee comes back into action to displace more solution. Continually working from the center out, pushing away the bubbles, the film begins to adhere to the headlamp. The film looks cloudy once installed, and a few pesky bubbles existed in a few spots. This is normal, and after a few days in the sun, the film is clear the bubbles are gone. I did end up with a few fingerprints on the backside of the film as the solution dried on my hands and I went to reposition the film. They are slight, and I doubt anyone can find them.

            I was very happy with the quality of the XPEL film and the ease of installation. I had some help from my dad, and he was so impressed with the film that he ordered a set for his Fusion. For any climate, protecting your headlamps is a must. Every winter when I vacation in Florida, I am amazed at how many new cars have yellow headlamps. They may not get the rock and sand abrasion we get in Michigan, but they could surely use something like the XPEL film to keep the lamps from yellowing. The installation was easy, and it is a must for anyone who wants to protect their car and keep it looking great!

Gallery of installation pictures: http://www.flickr.com/photos/brgt350/sets/72157624638294413/

North American Fiesta vs European Fiesta


             Well, the US Fiesta is not the EU Fiesta, and some of that is for the better. So much of the US Fiesta has been improved on over the version from across the pond. The biggest improvements are on the inside, where my expectations where exceeded in just about every square inch of the interior. Where the US car falls short is that the fun to drive factor has been halved.

            When I took delivery of the EU Fiesta over a year ago, I noticed how quick the car responded to the slightest blip of the throttle. The car felt very quick to accelerate around town, and it was a blast to go bombing down highway on ramps. The EU Fiesta had a close ratio gearbox, and an engine that was tuned more for fun than MPG. That was exactly how I like my cars! The Fiesta had wonderful mid-range power, and the gear ratio’s were close enough to make 3rd usable on twisty roads. This is where the US Fiesta suffers the most. The power band has moved to places only F1 cars and Honda’s live. The gear spacing is far enough apart that it feels like you went from 2nd to 4th and forgot there was a 3rd gear. The US Fiesta lacks the punchy acceleration around town, and also lacks a powerband that makes the car fun in the twisty bits. The suspension is still amazing on the US car, but the engine tuning and gearbox hinder the car to the point where the suspension can’t get a good work out. I am hoping some engine remapping and some slight modifications will increase the mid range power so that the gear ratio gaps don’t feel as big. In order to get anything usable out of 3rd gear, you need to rev 2nd to near redline, or else the shift into 3rd feels like you just deployed a parachute.

            Now that the biggest fault of the new Fiesta has been discussed, its time to move to what they got right. The interior is awesome! I thought the EU one was good, and I felt it needed very little improvement. I was shocked at how many things were improved on the US car. The seats feel like they were stolen from a Mercedes. The gaps on all the plastic trim is tight with practically zero overhangs. Even the silver paint used on the trim is very upscale looking. So far, the only faults with the interior are the lack of “Oh sh*t” handles, loss of volume control on the steering wheel, and no hooks to hang a suit coat. Yeah, that is about it for faults. The steering wheel design is not as good, and the thumb rests are not as pronounced as they were on the EU design. After driving for a few weeks, I am used to the redesigned steering wheel and find it to be ok. The lack of volume control on the wheel is very annoying since I am always hitting the “phone” button thinking it’s the volume up button. Sync is working well, but there is a steep learning curve to figure it all out. The seats are well supportive and very comfortable, and are not too soft to mask what the car is doing underneath you. The team that worked on the interior did a great job.

            The exterior is beginning to grow on me and some people actually like the US bumpers better than the EU ones. I prefer the shorter overhang, larger air intakes, and the fog lamps. Adding the body kit has really helped, and so did wrapping the chrome LED bezels with black. I am slowly getting used to the US nose, and its growing on me. I used to really dislike it, but it’s not that bad. The quality of the exterior is outstanding and all the gaps look to be very equal. A nice addition is the clear bra that is added to a few spots that were chipped on the EU Fiesta. Sadly, I covered up the entire clear bra with the body kit, so I will need to order some bulk clear to add some chip protection.

            Overall, the US Fiesta is a great car. The average consumer probably will never notice the gear ratio gaps or the lack of punch since they never drove the EU version. The US Fiesta is very refined, quiet, and good mannered for a daily commute. I miss raw punch of the EU Fiesta that made the car feel like a go kart with a roof, but I do enjoy the refinements in the cabin. If Ford could have blended the gearbox and engine from the EU car into the US version, they would have the absolute perfect car. The obsession with MPG numbers chased away the fun cogs and replaced them with a set of boring ones. I am sure I can find a way to make a few changes to the car to bring some of the fun back. Thankfully, the rest of the car is wonderful and needs no improvement. The car has a good balance that should make many consumers happy on our side of the pond.

Fiesta #707 has arrived!

10 years and 4 months to the day of taking delivery of my 1st new Ford, I took delivery of my second. I will have a more extensive write up coming soon, along with a complete comparison between the US and EU Fiesta’s. The modification process has begun with the addition of the Axis Touring Cup Wheels and Yokohama Tires. Next up is the Metallic package, spoiler, body kit, and wrapping the chrome trim. Expect lots of stuff in the next few weeks!

Fiesta #707 Update 6/25/10

On Thursday morning, my Fiesta arrived in Flat Rock Michigan where it was unloaded from the rail car. Later the same day, it was picked up by a transport to be shipped to Grand Haven Michigan. Right now, my car is somewhere between Flat Rock and her new home! The pedal pads and rear spoiler have both arrived, and so has the wrap for the chrome trim. I am working with 3D Carbon on the body kit, and that should be coming soon. The canvas for my next masterpiece is almost here.