Fast Car

Mk5 Zetec-S

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This is the generation of Fiesta in which the numbers go a bit awry. Owing to the increasing­ly iffy insurance situation for hatchbacks in the 1990s, there wasn’t a sporting variant of the Mk4 (which is the model sold from 1994-99). That was Britain’s bestsellin­g car from 199698, and while it shared some of the Mk3 bits, it was very heavily revised throughout – and also shared a production line with the rather more obscure Mazda 121, fact fans. There was a fresh new range of Zetec-SE engines, and the Mk4 donated its chassis to the slinky Puma too – which, as many an aftermarke­t tuner deduced, means you can squeeze the Puma’s 1.7-litre engine into a Mk4 Fiesta and rectify the lack of a sporty model in the range.

So, the Mk5: it was actually just a facelifted Mk4 rather than being a whole new car, and the UK is one of the few markets to actually call it a Mk5, which can cause a bit of confusion with all the ones that came after it. But never mind all that – it looked a lot crisper than the uninspirin­g Mk4, taking on the New Edge styling of the recentlyla­unched Focus, and Ford also addressed the ‘oops, we forgot about hot hatches’ issue with the frisky Zetec-S. The 1.6-litre 16v Sigma engine was borrowed from elsewhere in the range, its 101bhp working with stiffer and lower suspension, thicker anti-roll bars and Puma brakes. Performanc­e was warm rather than hot, but the Zetec-S was all about the handling – a proper spiritual successor to the XR2, that’s properly affordable these days.

Price today: £1,500

Top mods: Tuners have been spannering on these cars for years, so there’s a lot of options. Dropping a 1.7 Puma engine in is the obvious move, but there’s a lot more to do without shelling out for a full transplant. Start with a Pipercross Viper induction kit and a Milltek exhaust, add in some AP coilovers, and you’ll have a sorted back-road weapon for not a lot of outlay.

Top contacts: Pipercross (thepipercr­ossshop. co.uk), Milltek (milltekspo­rt.com), AP (apsportsus­pensions.com)

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