Nothing quite prepares you for the violence of the Fiesta leaving the line. The response is instantaneous and the traction absolute, the STARD turning every single kW of those motors into explosive forward motion. It claims the 0-62mph sprint takes about 1.8sec, but it feels even quicker inside the car, whose silence has now been shattered by the machine-gun fire of gravel against wheel arches, plenty of gearbox whine, the high-pitched hum of electric motors and, shamefully, the even higher-pitched scream of this tester.
It takes a moment or two for your brain to unscramble itself, which is potentially a problem as we’re bearing down on the first corner, which to add to the fun also combines the first switch from Tarmac to gravel. Fortunately the brakes are powerful and beautifully progressive, each little squeeze of your left foot delivering a directly proportional hit of retardation. We tiptoe through the gravel on this our sighting lap of a circuit we’ve never driven before, before hitting the Tarmac again as a surprisingly stoical Stohl gives the instruction to floor it again and unleash the full fury of all three motors once more.
We’ve only got three laps to sample the STARD, so discretion has to play the better part of valour, but it’s a ringing endorsement of the brilliant set-up (and shortness of the lap, with only four corners to remember) that halfway through the second lap you’re starting to exploit the car’s potential a little. The power never fails to shock, but so approachable and balanced is the handling that pretty soon you’re starting to feel like you might, just might, be able to do this rallycross thing.
You’re aided by the driving position, which is spot on. It helps when you’re a similar height and build (with, in this case, a similar hairstyle) to Stohl, as the restricted time means no opportunity to adjust the seats or pedal box (lanky BTCC legend Matt Neal was in after us, and he looked decidedly, erm, cramped), but the upright, close-to-the-wheel positioning is pure rally car rather than low-slung, centre-of-gravity-pleasing circuit racer, meaning you get a great view out that makes it a doddle to place the STARD just where you want it. Of course, the pedals are perfectly sited, while the figure-hugging carbonfibre shell seat and four-point harnesses keep you pinned in place.