It's one thing taking a look at the new Ford Fiesta ST3. It's another thing entirely to lob it round the Goodwood Hillclimb circuit at this year's Festival of Speed. Which is exactly what we did, and what a thrill this 1.6-litre turbo-charged beast is to behold.
We had checked out the ST on the Ford stand at the show earlier in the day. It's all elegant lines and, in this case, the glowing "race red" paint job has a real glow about it. The front has a large black grille, giving it an aggressive demeanour. It's finished with 17-inch alloy wheels as standard, while the twin exhausts give it real hot hatch appeal.
Sit inside, however, and despite the comfy "ST" stamped seats we were hoping for more: Ford hasn't exactly gone to town with the trim, which has various plastics and textures that ultimately lack.
But then at a £17,250 starting price there's a lot of car here, particularly from a power point of view. The 1.6-litre four-cylinder EcoBoost engine delivers 187 horsepower which makes it the fastest on-the-road Fiesta ever.
With a 0-60 time of under seven seconds you can feel that power. Foot to the floor and we whizzed away at speed, popping the six-speed manual gearbox through its paces until it came to the first corner. Sharp braking and plenty of control - the ST3 feels like a peppy little race car. Sharp hay-bale chicanes and some speed around the stone wall and it's all over, a mere minute of speedy fun enough to get us excited about how a small, affordable car can really kick it on the track.
The EcoBoost aspect of things means the engine is said to achieve 34mpg, but only when you are driving it sensibly, obviously. And we weren't.
Essential extras include the £400 nav system with DAB/CD and Ford Sync for voice-activated controls and app interconnectivity. Finish it off with the £275 style pack and it elevates the alloys to 18in, adds red brake callipers and illuminated scuff plates. If there were some more exciting interior options then we'd have a near perfect three door hot hatch.