Club Fiesta

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BY
VIVEK VENUGOPAL

February 14

It’s strange, for all its great handling, strong performance and affordability, we have never had a Fiesta 1.6 before. Perhaps this was for our own good, we can now have something special to kick off things. John’s Fiesta 1.6S is a little black gem we have been eyeing for long and had the chance to feature only now. John Manuel is the owner of J-Garage in Kochi and his car has been one of the best non VAG projects to have come out of Pete’s Automotive Pvt Ltd.

To start off, there is the stance they have achieved. It sits perfectly squat on those H&R springs. Delicious Borbet LV4s in matte anthracite got wrapped in 205/40 R17 Ventus HRII tyres and these are a huge departure from the standard 15 inchers that look sunken in the arches. Lot of stickers belonging to the various brands John represent, adorn the car and there are two round driving lamps fitted to the front bumper with custom brackets. The standard body kit of the 1.6S looks great as does the spoiler.

Inside too, the special touches of the S are retained, like the special seat fabric, the honey comb etched grille and drilled aluminium pedals. But the real modifications to this car are ones you can’t really see. The Fiesta 1.6S was never lacking in driver’s appeal or fun, but with the new mods in place, things are even better. There is a remap that makes the engine feel more energetic and deliver its punch in a much more usable way. Mind you the 1.6L Duratec has always been known for its strong bottom end power delivery and the remap seems to have improved on that. The surge is strong and it keeps pulling well to redline. The engine also benefits from a Miltek full exhaust with 4x2x1 headers and Green Storm cold air intake. These are probably taken into consideration during the remap, since they all seem to working in perfect harmony. The raspy exhaust note is music to the ears and without a turbo in its path to mute anything. One can hear it pop and crackle a bit on the over run.

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The H&R springs with Bilstein B6 dampers is a proven combination. It is amazing how this can improve the front end bite and chuckability of the car without compromising too much on ride quality. The 1.6 S has a quicker steering rack than the standard Fiesta’s and this heightens the driving pleasure. The brakes are superb, having good feedback and bite from the familiar G88 slotted rotors. The time honored Fiesta-driving technique of going way fast into a corner, trail braking and momentarily lifting off is sure to bring a smile to anyone’s face. What Pete’s has done here is, take one of the best handling front wheel drive car sold in India and made it even better!

Get the turbo on boost and it is a different story altogether. The car accelerates forward in proper tuned car fashion. There is no let up in power till 5500rpm and though most enthusiasts complain about the rev limit being lower on turbocharged cars, but there is no denying they are fast in every gear. This particular Laura sounds rorty thanks to its uprated Miltek exhaust system I got to throw around Ketan’s car on the same twisty bits where I did the Honda BRV that morning. Not only could I carry almost double the speed through a follow through, it still felt like child’s play in the Laura. The combination of good grippy tyres and the Bilstein B14 coilovers is hard to beat in the corners. Yes, these track focussed coilovers are a bit stiff for daily use, but it offers supercar levels of grip in the corners. The chassis feels even tighter thanks to Eibach antiroll bars and polyurethane bushes all around. And the Tarox G88 brakes with Strada pads are so confidence inspiring, you soon forget you are doing silly speeds all the time.

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BY VIVEK VENUGOPAL

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