We get the keys to a 2014 Ford Fiesta ST and the first thing that comes to mind is a road trip. Funny though, this little puppy isn’t very happy on the interstate with cruise control. No, it wants a back road to play. And what better back road, than the Mother Road.

Route 66 in Northern Arizona is fitting back-drop to play with Ford’s smallest hot hatch with its playful small towns and tourist traps with still bristle with life on the old road. Rolling along in the most modern of Ford’s, the scenery and history you drive through makes the mind wander to a different time.

That is until you get out into the open spaces where the impressions of speed you get from the tar-stripped road are much more intense than on the interstate. We might be somewhere back in time, but if feels like were making it up well.

The Ford Fiesta ST stands apart from its other show room brothers with all the high-performance boy racer touches. Its 17” alloy wheels look larger than they are. The more aggressive front fascia and side skirts draw it closer to the ground.

Out back, the unique lower rear fascia looks well tapered and somewhat exotic and frames the fat dual exhaust tips tidy like. The upper rear spoiler is really the finishing touch that presents the Fiesta ST as high performance, but not over the top.

The cabin isn’t that much different than the standard run of the mill Fiesta except for one thing. Ours had the optional Recaro sport seats. And at about $2000 they are an expensive proposition over the standard ST chairs.

Some in my office didn’t care for them. And if you are over about 200 lbs you may find them a bit too snug. They aren’t for everyone but I love them for their tight grabbing support, their firm feel and of course they look just awesome.

Dash and driver controls are well laid out and follow Ford’s European car design themes. The six-speed shifter is a friendly little device and doesn’t have many bad habits when the going gets fast. With the Recaro Seats, it takes some adjusting the tilt wheel and seat slide to get it just right.

The Ford Fiesta ST comes standard with the top Sony audio system and MyFord Touch, something I wish they would let me option. With the additional Nav system, the sound is good but the interface leaves a lot to be desired.

Menus on the MyFord Touch can be frustrating and or simply distracting behind the wheel for some uses. They have added hard controls for common audio adjustments which is a good faith improvement however.

It’s what’s under the hood that gives this pup its soul. The 1.6 liter turbocharged and intercooled four has all the goods from variable valve timing to direct fuel-injection. All this gives it a heady 197 horsepower and 202 lb-ft of torque and it comes only with a six-speed manual transmission which is as it should be.

Torque steer really wasn’t that bad as the Fiesta ST doesn’t have a great deal of it. By the time the engine is cooking up the power you are moving well down the road fast enough that such things aren’t going on.

The chassis is a half-inch lower with stiffer springs, dampers and anti-roll bars. While the ride was stiff out here on the patched up Mother Road, it was never too rough even after a long day behind the wheel.

Its tight firmness however pays huge dividends in the fun department on the windy road. It darts in and out, side to side like a go kart for lack of a better comparison. Steering gives a nice feedback and brakes seem right on.

The best thing is that in the total package this is a car you can almost drive to its limits on a public road without breaking too many laws. Even on a track, this car can be pushed to its limits and past them and few bystanders would notice. This is not always a bad thing.

And practical is the back-story here. This all-day road trip was affordable at the pump. The Ford Fiesta ST likes Premium Fuel but will accept Regular unleaded. With EPA ratings of 26 mpg city, 35 mpg highway and 29 combined, making the choice between the two is not that hard.

In all of this traveling the Mother Road and soaking in the whimsical humor of the Burma Shave signs, my tank average was 34 mpg combined. This was even with a bit of spirited running across the prarie and through mountains.

At the end of our drive, the Ford Fiesta ST earns a place on our 2014 I’d Buy It List. I like it that much.