The Ford Focus ST, needs to be experienced

In Car Reviews, Ford by Neil Lyndon

It is not a surprise to glimpse the little red brake calipers peeping out between the flash paired spokes of the 19” alloy wheels…

Or the twin exhaust tailpipes neatly clustered in their housing beneath the rear bumper. The low, ant-eater nose spoiler below the menacing lower grille, the deep sills and the tailgate spoiler are all very much according to expectations, as are the ST nameplates on the upper radiator grille, on the door plates and the heated steering wheel.

These trappings are all in line with what you would expect in the new Ford Focus ST 5 Door. The performance figures on the spec sheet may be eyebrow-lifting – 190 PS/400 Nm of torque/0-62 mph in 7.6 seconds/top speed 137 mph – but they are not an entirely stunning revelation, given the long and noble history of hotter versions of the Focus. The tug of torque steer when you floor the throttle pedal may raise the hairs on the back of your neck as will the growl from the tailpipes. As will the way the car sits into its sports suspension set-up when you give it the gun out of a corner but, again, these are not unfamiliar sensations for anybody with previous experience of ST models.

What did take me aback during my week with this splendid car was the subtleties of the body pressings. I have lost count of the number of versions of the new Focus that have passed through my hands but, for some reason, this was the first time I ever noticed the fine line that runs along the waist from the nose, fades away between the doors and then picks up again along the tail. There’s something touchingly beautiful about that detail which Ford had no need to add and which must have made the bean counters in the finance department do their collective nut when they costed the production but there it is, all the same, just because it adds a small sensation of pleasure.

The same goes for the tail spoiler. As far as most purchasers are concerned, this could probably have been a straightforward plank of steel. It might take years before they noticed the delicate double pressings that modulate the airflow over the surface of the spoiler. We tend to think that all art went out of car production when the coachmakers of the twentieth century finally laid down their tools. But nothing achieved by Hooper for Rolls or Bentley is finer than these lines in the Focus. You have to take your hat off to a company that would take this much trouble over a detail in a mass-produced hatchback. Bravo, Ford.

For my money, the 19” wheels with low profile tyres give way too harsh a ride and painfully transmit every bump and thump on our disgracefully neglected roads. The high-sided Recaro seats may be delightful for those who like their thighs to be squeezed when driving hard through a bend but not so nifty for a 90-year-old who is trying to edge her way out of the car.

Otherwise, I could find nothing to complain about in this work of high automotive art. Even my average fuel consumption at 49.1 mpg was comfortably within Ford’s predicted range and the overall price of our test car – including its lustrous ruby red paint job – was possibly the best surprise of the week at £31625.

Resounding value for money, I would say

Car reviewed: Ford Focus ST 5 Door 2.0L, on the road price £30,575 price as tested £31,625 0-62mph 7.6secs Top speed 137mph Engine 2298cc 4 cylinder diesel Euro 6 Fuel Economy WLTP highest/lowest 56.5/42.2mpg CO2 148g/km Max Power 190PS@3500rpm Torque 400Nm@2000rpm with overboost Transmission 6-speed manual

Neil Lyndon

Motoring Correspondent

Neil Lyndon has been a journalist, broadcaster and writer on the UK’s national stage for 40 years, writing for every “quality” newspaper on Fleet Street. He started writing about cars and motorbikes for The Sunday Times in the 1980s and was Motoring Correspondent of the Sunday Telegraph for 20 years, having previously written a column on motorbikes for Esquire. He is also recognised as a leading commentator on gender politics, having published No More Sex War in 1992 – the first ever critique of feminism from a radical, egalitarian point of view.