SMALL is okay. Small and fast is better. But small, fast and clever is the best of all. A three-cylinder performance engine, though? Well, weíll soon find out, thanks to the folks at Ford.
The mighty little Fiesta ST has downsized its powerplant and upsized its power, turfing the venerable 1.6-litre turbo four for a 1.5-litre turbo three and picking up 13kW in the process.
Itís also picked up cylinder deactivation to improve its fuel economy when itís cruising, which must be a hard task when there arenít that many cylinders to choose from in the first place. The ST drops out one cylinder, which might sound a bit kooky, but thatís why it also has an Electronic Sound Enhancement system to cover for the lack of acoustics.
However, itís not just more powerful, either. Shedding a pot across the front wheels has lifted the overall torque by 50Nm to 290Nm and now it is 0.2 seconds quicker to 100km/h, getting there in 6.7 seconds.
In a car this small, thatís enough to frighten plenty of unaware traffic-light heroes... and passengers at the same time.
The EcoBoost three-pot is a multiple International Engine of the Year award winner and Fordís got it pretty well sorted by now.
It managed to get stronger by the addition of a new turbocharger and both port and direct fuel injection systems.
The drive part of it uses the basis of the Fiesta architecture, but adds torque vectoring to brake the inside wheels when itís in danger of understeering and it does the same thing to offset its open differential when itís in danger of spinning the inside tyre uselessly.
It also rides on 18-inch rubber and delivers the driver the options of Normal, Sport and Track modes, though Ford hasnít been massively forthcoming over what pushing that button will actually change.
Weíre assuming itís going to cover noise (díuh, itís synthesized), throttle response and skid control, at the very least.
Available next year in both three- and five-door hatches, the little jigger will use Recaro sports seats and a flat-bottomed steering wheel. Frankly, thatís about all we know. So weíll stop here. Ė MT
TOYOTA has surprised itself with the start to its WRC comeback, so itís thrown out the Yaris GRMN for giggles. That name might not roll off the tongue, but it stands for Gazoo Racing Masters of NŁrburgring, so at least it means something.
Itís also visually inspired, inside and out, by the WRC program. Itíll also mean something that thereís a supercharged 1.8-litre engine doing all the work for the front-wheel drive hatchback.
Toyota is very happy to let people speculate that the hypo Yaris will deliver more than 150 to 155kW of power, and itís even happier that people are thinking it might get to 100km/h in around six seconds.
Where others in this class (think the Ford Fiesta ST and VW Polo GTi) are splitting their performance splitting their performance chops between three- and five-door hatches, the Yaris GRMN will be a pure three-door.
Unfortunately, thereís no plan to bring it to local showrooms, with the car limited to Europe and Japan, despite the desires of Toyota Australia to offer a hot hatch here. Ė MT