Dear Ford Motor Company, please do the honourable thing and pull the Ford Fiesta ST from sale. Don't get me wrong, it's a brilliant car. In fact, it could be one of the best cars of the decade. No, the problem is, the Fiesta ST has taken a plough through the level playing field and rendered all other new car reviews obsolete.
Allow me to explain.
It's now impossible to review a new car costing less than £20,000 without referencing the Ford Fiesta ST. For most conclusions, you can simply cut and paste one of the following two lines:
Spend a couple of grand more and you can buy the sublime Ford Fiesta ST
That's a few grand more than the Ford Fiesta ST, which is more fun and better value for money
We're getting to the stage where the answer to just about every question is "the Ford Fiesta ST". Other carmakers may as well shut up shop and consider moving into the manufacture of pepper mills. Or tractors.
Take the Vauxhall Adam Grand Slam. I was fortunate enough to take one by the scruff of the neck and chuck it along Route Napoleon earlier in the month. It was good. In fact, it was very good. Proper junior hot hatch thrills with just enough power to entertain. The 148bhp 1.4-litre turbocharged engine is properly rapid, the car corners sharply and the ride quality - in France at least - was exceptional.
So you begin thinking of it as a rival to PetrolBlog's favourite - the Suzuki Swift Sport. That is until you look at the price. Vauxhall is asking £16,995 for the Adam Grand Slam, which is a lot. But once you've added the must-have Recaro seats, IntelliLink system and metallic paint on the test car, the price rockets to £19,425.
Which is £30 - or half a tank of fuel - more than the top-spec Ford Fiesta ST3. Good lord.
And don't think I'm picking on the Vauxhall Adam - a car I genuinely like. The Ford Fiesta ST has also killed the Renaultsport Clio (although Renault also played a big part in its demise) and Peugeot must be rueing the day Ford launched the Fiesta ST. Although friend of PetrolBlog, Antony Ingram, tells me the new 208 GTI 30th Anniversary actually beats the Fiesta. Which is a big call.
Hot hatches aren't the only cars to suffer from Fiesta ST comparisons. I was driving the new Jeep Renegade last week - PetrolBlog review to follow soon. The petrol-engined Renegade I was driving cost over twenty-four-and-a-half-grand. Clearly, the Fiesta ST and Renegade aren't battling on the same forecourt, but you can't help but use the price-value-brilliance test, of which the Fiesta ST is the past master. And using the Fiesta ST as a gauge, the Renegade seems incredibly pricey.
Soon we'll be judging all cars against the Ford Fiesta ST. The Rolls-Royce Ghost? It's good, but you can have ten Ford Fiesta STs for the same price. The BMW 7-Series? Sure, it's a quality motor, but wouldn't you rather save £40,000 and opt for the Fiesta ST?
It is the answer to every question. What's the capital of France? The Ford Fiesta ST. Who should be the next presenter of Top Gear? The Ford Fiesta ST. Name five famous Belgians. Er... Well, almost every question.
And its presence isn't limited to conversations about cars. Maybe you're considering adding a conservatory to the rear of your house. All is going well until you receive the estimate for £20,000. At which point you'll turn to your other half and say, "hang on, that's the same price as a top-spec Fiesta ST, could we add that to the back of the house instead?"
Or perhaps you're planning a lavish wedding, which will inevitably cost much, much more than the price of the world's best hot hatch. So you catch a train to Gretna Green and book the function room at your local cricket club instead. Sorted.
Play fair, Ford. Either raise the price of the Fiesta ST or pull it from sale for a few months. Give the other chaps a chance. It's the right thing to do.