Former Peugeot and Ford WRC ace Markko Martin sampled the new Ford Fiesta R2 recently and the Estonian was immediately impressed, declaring it 'very fast and fun to drive'.

Martin, who won five events in the World Rally Championship during his career, before calling it a day following the tragic death of his co-driver, Michael Park on the 2005 Wales Rally GB, got behind the wheel as part of the M-Sport-designed Fiesta R2's European Tour.

Martin put the car, which has been designed to replace the Fiesta ST rally car and is targeted at competitors in the Fiesta SportTrophy series, through its paces in Vic in Spain and in doing so made a small bit of history as it was its first overseas tarmac test.

"It is the first time I have driven this car and, although it is a small car, the truth is that it is very fast and fun to drive," said Martin. "It is light and has 163PS and good torque.

"It is 120kg lighter than the previous GpN Fiesta ST and has brakes that allow you to brake later without any problem. The Reiger suspension works very well and the car is very stable with good traction and very little understeer.

"The sequential Sadev gearbox with five gears works very well and it's possible to change gear with your foot down."

Meanwhile following the stop in Spain, the Fiesta R2 continued on the second leg of its European Tour, stopping in Slovenia and Italy, where FST International Shootout winner Matthias Boon was back behind the wheel.

The Fiesta R2 will now embark on the next leg of its tour at the end of July when it will visit the Neste Oil Rally Finland before making stops in Estonia and Latvia, Sweden, Austria, Germany, France, the UK and Ireland during the month of August.