In '08 and '09, DC Shoes co-founder and now the Monster World Rally Team driver Ken Block released two YouTube videos that became notorious around the world. Block's "Gymkhana" films mesmerized millions with their rally-style driving around human obstacles and figure-eight drifting. The online clips racked up more than 30 million views and made him a household name.
For 2010, Block signed with Ford Racing and is competing in both the World Rally Championship and Rally America series, which we reported in et 5/10. Campaigning a Focus WRC and Fiesta respectively, he's showing promise for future rally seasons and has already claimed a victory on the 100 Acre Wood Rally. But the best is yet to come...
This summer, the third chapter in the Gymkhana series will be unveiled with Ken's new ride. Block will be piloting this '11 Fiesta, which surprisingly started as a production five-door, given its high level of modification.
Now you might be wondering why a Fiesta, and why eurotuner cares? Well, the new car was designed and developed in Europe, becoming the continent's bestseller in '09. So when Block jumped onboard Ford's supermini, we were excited since the Fiesta will be making its way to North America dealerships this summer as well.
The captivating exterior of the Gymkhana Fiesta was designed by DC to incorporate similar graphics to his Fiesta and Focus rally cars. The stock 1.6-liter was ditched for a turbocharged 2.0 built by Olsbergs Motorsport Evolution, the same tuner responsible for his Fiesta's rally program. Capable of 850hp in rallycross spec, the four-cylinder was detuned to 650hp in order to give Block more control. Torque was rated at 660 lb-ft and the 2425 lb hatch can accelerate 0-60mph in a neck breaking 2sec!
Transferring power to all-four wheels was a six-speed sequential magnesium transmission. Block changes gears using paddle shifters located on the steering wheel.
To increase track width, a custom widebody utilized a more aggressive front bumper inspired by Ford's racecars. A carbon splitter increased downforce, along with a rear wing. The fender flares on the Gymkhana car were stretched wider than Ford's rally cars to look more prominent. Under the fenders are 18'' Volk wheels and big Alcon brakes.
Details of Gymkhana 3 are being kept secret for now, but we suspect it will involve multiple locations to highlight the car's ability in different conditions, as well as the occasional celebrity guest appearances.
Check eurotuner.com for the latest news on the video's release as well as updates on Block's rally season.
With more than 12 million sold, the Fiesta is one of the world's most successful cars. Unfortunately, North America missed out on most of them but the Fiesta is returning to the US, six generations later, with unmistakable European design and performance.
Nearly 700,000 of these new Fiestas have been sold in Europe and Asia since its launch thanks to 15 class-exclusive features and highway economy up to 40mpg. Its performance and economy oust competitors such as the Honda Fit, Nissan Versa and Toyota Yaris; but we're more excited because it simply looks and drives like a European compact.
Thankfully, the North American version won't be dummied down. The exterior keeps the same aggressive styling with its distinctive elongated headlights, muscular hood, sculpted fenders and dramatic tail lights. Perhaps the only downfall is we won't see the three-door hatch for now; only the five-door and four-door sedan.
The engine remains similar to European-spec, although the US version comes with additional emissions equipment on the 1.6-liter inline-4 with 120hp and 112 lb-ft.
While the power is not overwhelming, its chassis is remarkable. The suspension features tuned struts, bushings, dampers, stabilizer bars and a rear twist-beam to keep the Fiesta firmly planted and give a sporty feel with responsive steering. We had the opportunity to maneuver through the backcountry roads of NorCal, where the Fiesta proved to be fun through the corners. We also participated in a spirited autocross, which also proved the Fiesta's handling poise, posting faster lap times than its Fit and Yaris couterparts.
A five-speed manual is standard but a PowerShift six-speed automatic is receiving attention. Although not as quick or fun as the manual, it shifts smoothly and offers similar economy.
Other neat features include a quieter cabin, options for push button start, onboard Sync technology, LED parking lights, ambient lighting and different interior color combinations.
The new Fiesta breaks away from Ford's typical trucks, SUVs and musclecar stereotype. At $13995 for the sedan and $15975 for the hatch, maybe it's time we take notice of a Ford.