“All cars are the same.”
Neil Lyndon overdoses on the Ford Focus RS and ST-Line Estate
Of all the guff you may have to grit your teeth and smile through at a party, clutching your glass and scanning the room for more canapes, is any more gormless than that? Why are people that stupid even given a licence to speak?
Just because there are so many SUVs that look the same; and just because they all share engines and components that come from the same manufacturers; and just because they pretty much all start and go without fail, that doesn’t make all cars the same.
You might as well say “all oil paintings are the same” which would make a Jack Vettriano the same as a John Bellany (fabulous Scottish painter, direct contemporary of Vettriano, yet blazing original).
….which leads us to two cars that share the same name but are so different that they might have come from separate planets.
Keeping the Ford Focus ST-Line Estate at home for the same week as the Focus RS Mountune was a bit like having two wives in the house at the same time. One is a wonderful mother, a delightful companion, a great cook and the person in the curve of whose warm body you are happy to find yourself nestling when you wake up in the morning. The other is a total nutter who completely blows your mind (so to speak) every time you go near her and is so thrilling and captivating you simply cannot keep your hands to yourself.
The RS came to us trailing clouds of glory but also with something of a reputation as an undesirable. Everybody I met who had driven one agreed that its Porsche-like performance was astounding, but many complained about a ride so harsh and jarring that the pleasure was mixed with far too much pain. One young man said that a two-hour drive across country in the RS was torture and he couldn’t wait to get out of it.
What on earth is wrong with the young today? I couldn’t understand what he was complaining about.
After a week with the RS, I just wanted more. A 200-mile journey wasn’t enough.
This was one of those relatively rare test cars where you find yourself wondering whether you might persuade the manufacturer that it would be a lot less trouble for them simply to leave it in your hands rather than go to all the expense of taking it away.
The £899 Mountune upgrade adds an extra 25bhp and 30lb ft to the standard RS through a rejigged ECU, high-performance air filter and crossover duct and upgraded dump valve. The main benefit is that it now puts out a fruity blat from the exhaust tailpipes when changing up through the gearbox under hard acceleration as well as when changing down. This makes it especially satisfying to annoy your irritating neighbours when leaving the house before they are awake.
Otherwise, this Focus RS is identical to the RS I reviewed on these pages last year and described as “the most delightful, rewarding, engaging car I have driven all year” I went on to say
“Even at the £35000+ all-in price of our test car, the Focus RS is astoundingly cheap when you consider what unutterable ordinariness that kind of money can buy. “
The Mountune RS merely confirmed both of those judgments.
As did our experience of the £26885 Focus ST-Line Estate.
The 1.5T EcoBoost engine in this sedate family wagon puts out 150 PS and, with overboost, 240 Nm of torque. With a top speed of 130 mph and 0-60 mph in nine seconds, it is faster than the original MK1 VW Golf GTI and has a similar tendency to hang on in a corner like a stone being swung on a length of string. It may not have the blat of the RS, but once you’ve dropped the kids at school, you can have a pretty good time at the wheel of this car on the way to work.
If I had to have one of these cars, there’s absolutely no question which of them I would choose. But both would be the best of all worlds….As would also be true of wives.
Car reviewed: Ford Focus RS Mountune 2.3T EcoBoost 6 Speed Manual – Base Price On the road £31,250 with options £35,765 0-62mph 4.5 secs Top speed 165mph Fuel Economy combined 36.7mpg CO2 emissions 175g/km Engine 2261cc 4-cylinder unleaded turbo petrol Max Power 375PS@6000 rpm Torque 510Nm@2000rpm Transmission 6-Speed manual 4×4
Car reviewed: Ford Focus ST-Line Estate 1.5T EcoBoost 6 Speed– Base Price On the road £22,095 with options £26,885 0-62mph 9.1 secs Top speed 130mph Fuel Economy combined 50.4mpg CO2 emissions 128g/km Engine 1499cc 4-cylinder unleaded EU6 Max Power 150PS@6000 rpm Torque 240Nm@1600rpm Transmission 6-Speed manual
Most engaging drive
Worthwhile Mountune upgrade
Bad boy reputation
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