We recently drove Ford’s new Focus ST for a week of varied driving, has it got what it takes to live up to the fast Fords that have gone before? On first sight this Focus has been beefed up over the regular models, there’s a sizeable air intake with a gloss black grille on the front of the car, it sits 10mm lower then the regular Focus on 18” alloys, the rear is muscular too, with a large centre-exit exhaust, not too dissimilar from that seen on a Lamborghini Aventador. The ST’s interior has all the architecture from the regular Focus albeit with some choice additions, primarily two Recaro sports seats for the driver and passenger. These offer great support when driving ardently, there’s an additional instrument pod on top of the dashboard, this houses gauges for oil temperature, oil pressure and boost pressure.
Under the bonnet the ST’s predecessor’s 2.5-litre five-cylinder engine has been replaced with a new 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged EcoBoost engine. Although the engine has been downsized, power has been increased, with 250hp and 360Nm of torque produced. It’s an extremely easy engine to live with on a daily basis, it will happily plod around town, there’s sufficient torque available so you don’t have to change gears too often, when you do, the six-speed manual transmission offers a light and positive gear change that’s satisfying to use. When the occasion arises on the open road, you can explore the ST’s power, it offers Golf GTI-beating acceleration. To truly get the best out of the ST you need to take it on track, its competent chassis and willing engine enable it to corner faster then expected. On occasions on the road we found the ride to be slightly harsh, however on track it’s perfect, with no body roll evident through fast corners. The steering is one of the ST’s strong points, it’s accurately weighted and offers razor-sharp responses. The Focus ST achieved a laptime of 1:08.22 around Mondello Park’s National Circuit, that places it in second place overall on our hot hatch lap chart. It’s proven to be faster then the Volkswagen Golf R and the Seat Leon Cupra R and has just been narrowly beaten by Renault’s Megane RS Trophy.
When not partaking in track days, the ST is a practical car, with five doors and a decent sized boot, it will fulfil all the family car duties with ease. It’s economical too, when driven at a moderate pace, with a combined fuel consumption of 7.2l/100km (39.2mpg). There are two variants of the ST available in Ireland, the entry-level ST’s specification includes, keyless start, Recaro sports seats, 18” alloys and Bluetooth connectivity. The ST2 model (€37,470) benefits from additional equipment which includes, Ford’s SYNC advanced voice control, device integration and connectivity interface and electronic climate control. Ford has priced the ST competitively, the entry-level ST (priced at €35,170) has a price advantage of almost €2,000 over the equivalent five-door Golf GTI. The GTI however tends to have a stronger residual value when it comes to selling after a few years of ownership.
This latest incarnation of the Focus ST has all the hot hatch traits required to gain membership to the fast Ford family, it’s practical, properly quick and engaging to drive.[table “94” not found /]