Ford does it so well! and the Focus ST just raises the bar.
The ST, referring to sport technologies, is all you need if you want a smile on your driving face.
Yes, 280 bhp from the 2.3-litre, four pot is the start-point for a study of the Focus’ potential…it’s obviously going to be a real goer!
But, less easy to assimilate, perhaps, is how it will feel inside the car and out on the road.
Here’s the answer: buy one. Trust me!
When the car was delivered to me for a week’s loan, the driver said: “Have fun…and you will!” He was right.
BUT, very first impression: the ride — I’m thinking: ‘let’s hope this shaking and bumping will end soon’, because my local streets are dreadfully smitten with eternally unsuccessful attempts to smooth out roadworks both old and new. That, then, is not the car’s fault. So let’s move on.
Getting into the Focus ST, it’s Recaro seats that will hold you firmly in place. And they need to, because, as it proved once we’d escaped out into some familiar country roads quite nearby, the handling was outstanding. The way the Focus took fast bends as though on rails was hugely enjoyable. Great, tight steering, too, all so simple and beautifully weighted. The ST is equipped with an electronic limited-slip differential and has a comprehensive list of safety features, plus, of course, some autonomy.
The ST is also very fast in a straight line. Zero to 62 mph flashes up in just 5.7 seconds. There’s launch control to play with.
And, when you do your foot-to-the-floor Grand Prix starts on your safe, favourite deserted kilometre of highway, the noise is just great. Hitting maximum revs, there’s this glorious, howling growl. Beware: it’s an audio drug. You have been warned!
On the day-to-day more practical side, the Focus ST is, firm suspension apart, perfectly happy as a car for the school run or supermarket shopping. There’s good space for both jobs and the boot lid can be shut with one hand.
The engine is perfectly flexible and unfussed in all traffic conditions. There’s always that exhaust note, rather gently telling you you’re still in an ST; it even gives itself a little ‘blip’ when you come to a standstill. It has automatic start/stop if you want, and brake auto-hold, which I always find useful.
At night, the main instruments display with a demure blue background, while the headlights, whether night or day, default to being on when the ignition is started. The head-up display helps.
Given almost completely dry weather over seven days, the demisting wasn’t tested. However, together with Ford’s long-traditional heated windscreen and general acumen in this department, I would imagine that wetness outside and condensation inside would be quickly dealt with.
The heating, meanwhile, was perfectly efficient..although, being new to the car, it wasn’t immediately easy to look down and find which switch would do which function.
The car was driven in all kinds of traffic and road conditions and, according to the trip computer, consumption averaged 35.5 mpg. The official combined figure is 34.4 mpg; achieving that would produce a range of up to 330 miles.
So, what does all this cost? It starts at £34,385. As ever, shop around.
Tom Scanlan has written for a wide variety of magazines and newspapers, particularly the Reading Evening Post for ten years, having got into motoring journalism in 1973 via the somewhat unlikely back door of the British Forces Broadcasting Service. BFBS produced a weekly radio motoring show for the services overseas and Tom produced it, as well as interviewing experts and eventually reporting on cars.
He is into classic cars and has owned Porsche, Ferrari, pre-war Alvis and Rileys and currently owns his fifth old Alfa Romeo, a 1984 GTV 2.0.
In his spare time, Tom is a professional cricket coach.