19th Dec2018

Keeping Warm in a Hot Hatch: Gavin Drives a Fiesta ST

by Gavin Pouquette

Words by Gavin Pouquette, photos by Gavin Pouquette, Andrew Jackson, Jensen Litke.

Dear Ford Motor Company,


You were killing the game with great, fun cars in every price range that put the other two American car companies to shaaaaame! I used to be rooting for you from the sidelines, cheering you on; BUUUUT NOOOOOOO. This move to kill all but two cars in your lineup is downright shameful, and shows that all you are after is the cheap and easy way out. Crossovers. And I don’t want to hear about “bhUt thEy MaKe thE eeEedge ESSS TEEEE!” It’s not at all the same. But you, the reader, saw a photo of a Fiesta ST and assumed this is a review on said car. And as the upstanding opinion-ist that I am, I will give that to you.

For those that have been sleeping under a rock for the past 5 years, the first (and only) generation of the Fiesta ST to come to the USA is small hot-hatch that is powered by a 1.6L Ecoboost motor, making 197 bhp at 6,000 rpm and a solid 200 torques at 4,200 rpm. That power and torque are sent through to the front wheels via a profoundly slick 6-speed manual transmission that is an absolute dream to row though. Like… Seriously slick. Imagine yourself driving a car with a manual gearbox in a dream of yours. It’s slicker than that! Those who complain about gearboxes feeling too notchy, FEAR NO MORE! Notches are almost non-existent with the Fiesta ST. However, I am one to like notches when shifting. It’s why I drive a manual Subaru. With that said, I don’t think that the feel in the gearbox is missing anything. It has its own character that way. Ratios are adequately spaced and fall exactly where you expect them to be.

The maximum torque may, in fact, be at 5,000 rpm, but 2,700 rpm is really the figure to look at while flying through a canyon or your favorite twisty side road. That’s where boost likes to open the door, come in, and say hi. You get a small tidal wave from 2,700 rpm that carries you all the way to 5,500 rpm. But that’s not the end of the story here. Unlike other hot hatches from abroad, (cough cough VW GTI) the sound and the character of the engine doesn’t die when the boost stops. Oh no! The engine still makes pleasant and happy noises up top, all the way past 6,000 rpm, and still has some grunt all the way to its 6,300 rpm redline. I’m not calling it a Miata per se, but it definitely carries over certain traits from our beloved Japanese roadster.

One of my favorite attributes of the Fiesta ST is how it goes around corners. Body roll is nonexistent, so the car corners oh so very flat. I was pushing quite a bit through my favorite canyon roads and kept cars I passed in the far corners of my rearview. Unlike other FWD hot hatches I’ve had experience within the past, understeer isn’t really a phenomenon that ever happens in the Fiesta ST. When carrying speed, you actually need to keep the rear end in check. Although the nice thing is, if that were to happen, it’s fairly easy to catch and sort out with the front wheels being the ones putting the power down.

It’s been often discussed that the optimal amount of power to send to only the front wheels is right around 200 bhp. This is one of the very few downfalls of the car. When really stomping on the throttle there is a little bit of tug through the steering wheel, but it’s not something that a driver that is paying attention can’t negotiate. But other than that, torque steer isn’t really an issue. However, this is where the electronic LSD in the GTI beats the differential in the Fiesta ST.

Another field in which the GTI beats the Fiesta ST, the interior. Yes, you can option the car with heated Recaro seats and change the mood lighting until you’re blue in the face (I just turned it to red and kept it there). But at the end of the day, it’s still a Fiesta on the inside. For a base car, you get Bluetooth and a well-balanced stereo. You get a multimedia display, but no Sat Nav. Which is fine because I wouldn’t use it anyway. If the car came with Android Auto, that would be a different case, but these cars never came with it. Plus, I wouldn’t expect them to. They are a subcompact car after all.

One more point against the ST: For being a driver’s car, you would expect that they would nail the pedal placement for solid heel-toe action… Right? Well…. Not really. The spacing of the pedals was fine for my Size 9 ½ feet, but the brake pedal starts far too high to initiate a heel-toe. The only place I can possibly conceive laying down a solid heel-toe rev match would be on track coming down from a high rate of speed and burying the brakes harder than a racist family member.

All in all, I was floored by the Fiesta ST. It balances peppy get-up with its small turbo motor with fun and quirky suspension and fantastic handling. Along with great brakes and shifter feel. Mark my words, acquiring one is now a definite goal of mine. Not saying it’ll happen tomorrow, but God damn I need this car in my life. I’ve already started looking for one in Ford’s Kona Blue and plan to put a nice set of white Fifteen52 Tarmac wheels along with a few bolt-ons and call it a day. It’s really a shame that Ford Motor Company has decided to axe all Fiestas as well as Focus and the Fusion. At least we’ll still have the Mustang though, right?

This particular Fiesta ST is owned by a gentleman named Peter who lives up in Layton, Utah and I cannot recommend him and his car enough. As this article is being written, the car is on Turo and can be yours for $37/day with 500 miles included. Honestly, I can’t really think of a better way to spend my money on a car. Well, maybe if I actually bought the thing I wouldn’t have to give it back.

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01st May2017

The Driving Experience: E36 325is

by Michael Chandler


Ahoy hoy ladies and gentlemen!  And welcome to this, the latest episode of The Driving Experience.  You’ve heard Dave trash on them, but how is are the E36 BMW 3 Series?  Gavin finds out how good of a platform the E36 generation 325is can be as a race car and canyon carver in this episode, which you can check out below!

A big thank you to Scott Michael Chamberlain for Gavin review his car.  Do you have a car you’d like to see on a future episode?  Email us!  [email protected] is how you get a hold of us with such requests.  Thank you for watching, we’ll see you for the next episode!

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18th Apr2017

Audi A3 Prestige: The Little Sedan That Can

by Michael Chandler

If you follow us on Instagram, then you know that the GTI threw a Check Engine Light.  Such a wonderful moment.  After posting about the momentous occasion, and subsequently being told I don’t know anything about cars because I didn’t magically make O’Reilly Auto Parts open at 10pm and have them scan it, Toby from Makes & Models got a hold of me and told me they could fit me into their schedule the following day.  And they did.  Turns out a previous owner decided to spice things up, and cut out the screen protecting the sensor part of a MAF sensor.  They didn’t have a MAF on hand, but they could get one in the morning.  Not wanting me to limp my wounded car back to Salt Lake, Toby set me up with a loaner: a 2015 A3 Prestige sedan.  After many thank yous, I hopped on the freeway and began forming opinions and feelings about the car.

Toby told me to leave it in Dynamic, because it would be more fun.  And when I got to hustle it through some twisty backroads, it was.  Around town, going to work and to see my girlfriend, it wasn’t any more fun than Comfort or Normal.  In Dynamic, the DSG transmission wanted to hang on to gears JUST a little too long, like a dog tugging at a leash because it wants to run like its wolf like ancestors!  LET ME BE FREE MAN-BEAST!!!


In Comfort mode the opposite was happening.  It really, REALLY wanted to get into the higher gears and stay there.  I’m assuming this was to achieve bonkers fuel economy numbers, which the real-time readout in the gauge cluster was telling me it was hitting.  Otherwise, it didn’t want to kick down unless I really got on the throttle.  A little annoying, but that’s the mode I’d choose for a long drive.  Say to Vegas or L.A.  For a normal, boring commute like mine (fifteen minutes, mostly freeway, not a twisty road in sight), I’d leave it in Normal.  Save Dynamic for the fun roads, or if you have a more exciting commute than mine.

Take all that transmission talk with a grain of salt.  If I could, I’d shove it into the GTI in a heartbeat.  Another thing I’d shove into my car is the engine.  It’s a lot the same as the power plant in my Mk6, but also different.  The engine and brakes never left me feeling doubtful.  I had the power to pass people when I needed to, and enough brakes to reel the car in before things got scary.  The brakes were a little grabby, but I’ll chock that up to how cold it was when I had the car.  (The GTI’s brakes are the exact same kind of grabby until they get some heat in them, I’m going to say this is a VAG thing) And despite being all wheel drive, the car never felt like it was pushing.  You could tell it was a front wheel drive based car, but the understeer was very mild.  

This is a handsome little car, inside and out.  While some people would call the black on black interior “boring”, I would call it understated.  Nothing seemed crammed in, there wasn’t anything shouting “LOOK AT ME!  I AM THE MOST IMPORTANT THING IN HERE!”  Everything was very German: purposefully placed, and simply designed.  And everything was easy to use.  The most difficult thing I encountered was turning the infotainment system on and off, and that took all of three minutes.

I didn’t spend any time sitting in the back, but they’re leather clad just like the front.  They look comfy…  The front seats were very nice.  Held you snugly, without making you feel like your kidneys were going to be turned into a delightful mush.  And they were heated, which made the cold days much easier to deal with.  Finding a good driving position took me a minute, but I found it.  And after that I drove it to work, then to take these pictures, and then on a fun drive back to my house.

I made sure everything had heat before I got on with the fun, and when I did I wasn’t disappointed.  The shifts were crisp, with or without use of the paddle shifters.  The steering was communicative and pretty sharp.  If you’re looking for second to none road feel, you’re looking at the wrong car.  However, if you’re looking to hustle about and want to know what’s going on with the road so you can make informed decisions: bingo, here’s your car.  The two liter engine pulls hard, surprisingly hard for a small luxury sport sedan.  I thoroughly enjoyed it, it reminded my of Ronda the Supra.  The brakes, once warm, were smooth and bit nicely.  The suspension soaked up the rough road, and didn’t leave me regretting my decision to drive it.  Definitely on the stiffer side, but not off-puttingly so.  

After my jaunt, I pulled into Rich’s Bagels.  I ordered a couple of bagels, and a cup of coffee and sat down to compile some thoughts.  After that Brendon told me that my car was ready to pick up, so I made my way to Layton.  Upon arriving Brendon and Toby asked me the same question: what did I think of the car?  WELL…

It’s a great little car.  If I could, I’d trade the GTI for it.  UNFORTUNATELY the A3 is a bit out of my humble price range, but my situation is probably different than yours.  If you’re looking for a small, luxury sport sedan I’d put this atop the list.  BMW has nothing for you in this segment (yet!), and the Mercedes CLA just isn’t as good.  It looks frumpy, and while the interior is a thing of beauty you still have to look at the iPad like infotainment screen perched atop the dash.  I know that makes it easier to replace if need be, but it looks so out of place!  Meanwhile, the screen in the A3 rises and disappears into the dash.

TL;DR- not the sportiest small German car you can buy, but the best small sedan.  Sporty when it needs to be, everyday transport all the time.  7.5/10, would go deeper into debt to pick one up.

Got a decent sized trunk too!  If you want to buy the car, go to here.

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*Article, Photos, Videos, and Audio clips are copyright of CAMautoMag.Com and their respective owners.


03rd Apr2017

The Driving Experience: BOSS 302 Laguna Seca

by Michael Chandler

Hello everybody!  And welcome to the first in a new series of videos that we’re calling The Driving Experience.  What is The Driving Experience?  It’s taking all those numbers you see in a review (0-60, lateral G’s, etc) and putting them to practice.  It’s us going out and driving these cars and sharing our experience behind the wheel.  We’re not experts, we’re not hot shoes, we’re not journalists who get to drive every new car at giant, manufacturer sponsored events.  We’re guys just like you: enthusiasts who care more about how a car drives than the numbers on a spec sheet.  We’ll be back next month, and every month, with another review for you.  If you’ve got a car you’re willing to let us drive, send us an email: [email protected]

And so with that, please enjoy our first episode, featuring the BOSS 302 Laguna Seca of Alex Crane.  Gavin and I went to Vegas, stayed in a sketchy hotel, and hustled the car around the hills surrounding the city.  


If you haven’t yet, you should subscribe to us on YouTube, along with all of our other social media feeds.  And the podcast, while you’re at it:


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21st Oct2011

Forza 4 Review: What I hate!

by Trent

Forza 4 Review
I have a Playstation 3. I prefer the Playstation 3. I loathe the fact that Turn 10 Studios is a Microsoft company. The only reason I have an XBox 360 at all is because of the Forza Motorsport series. This shows dedication, and in general, I love the game! But, if I have to replace an XBox once a year(not a joke) to get my Forza on, I expect near perfection. This is what I hate about Forza Motorsport 4.

The Load Times of Forza 4

This was a problem in Forza 3, and it’s a problem in Gran Turismo 5. If you want a feature-rich experience, you’ll have to wait around for awhile. As if I needed to wait to drive a painfully slow Ford Ka around a track. Every day, new technologies are being shoved at us to speed up this or that by a small amount. We don’t notice how far technology has advanced in the last few years until we load up the ole gaming console. I thought cramming my hard drive full of nearly 4 gigabytes of content would help speed things along, but no.

The organization of Forza 4

Look, not everyone wants to do the World Tour. I like it to an extent, but I love buying and modifying cars for specific events that I choose. If I want to spend an hour straight of racing a Corvette ZR1, I will. So since they provide the option, you’d think they’d make it look “presentable”. Spoiler alert: It looks like crap! Not the “Oh, this baby pooped, but it’s still kind of cute” crap. No no, this is the ugly kind(I don’t need to be more descriptive than that). Some grey, blue, and green boxes that look tiny even on my 56″ screen is not acceptable in my mind. Spice it up, would ya?
Also, menus, menus, menus. Too many to do what I want. The game is filled with content and you need a way to access it, but is this really the best way?

The difficulty of Forza 4

You can customize your experience with Forza 4 to make it as hard or as easy as you want. I’m not one who turns off every aid on Expert level and tries to lay the smack down, but the ‘Hard’ level of AI cars is surprisingly easy. Lapping cars on ‘Medium’ happens quite often even when I’m in a disadvantaged car.

No Porsche in Forza 4

Yes, this is not a Turn 10 problem. EA Sports is holding out on us since they have the exclusive rights to Porsche in video games. But with all the sales of Forza and the DLC, couldn’t they have dumped a truck-full of money and EA’s door, stormed in, and chained themselves to a proverbial tree until they got their way? I know in the first week of Forza, I personally spent $140 on it. Big deal, they have Ruf cars you say? Not the same, I don’t have the option of racing a Porsche Cayman R or a Panamera Turbo(loved this in Forza 3). Instead I have something that resembles a 911 but has none of the character of one. Believe me, the cars in the game have character.

Kinect on Forza 4

My thought is that Microsoft gave Turn 10 a bunch of money to integrate Kinect into a game that has no business having Kinect. I’ve used Kinect for Dance Central, which is the perfect example of Kinect integration. Forza does not need it and I consider it a waste of space. Head tracking is a gimmick. AutoVista is another. The time and energy could’ve been spent bettering the 4 things above.

Overall this game is a winner and I expect demand you to pick it up, but these are changes I demand in the future versions of Forza. I’m not above switching to a new game, I used to be a Gran Turismo loyalist after all. And now I’m off to kill a couple hours playing Forza.

-Trent Bray

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