The Ford Focus ST has grown up matured in everyday usability. Pity about the slow 0-100 time
The new Ford Focus ST performance
The ST is based on the new generation Focus (a Ford Global One vehicle), which I drove last year and was very impressed with. Ford owners might lament the loss of the 5-cylinder 2.5-litre turbo, which has been replaced by the new 4 cylinder, 2 litre ECOBoost engine, producing 184kW and 340NM of torque, but I think their tears will dry pretty damn fast once they get in the drivers seat. It has a considerable amount more power and torque than the GTI (however just shy of the Golf R) and competes well against the 193kW RS Cup. It has a rough growl to it, but not at all as throaty as the Golf R or angry as the RS…that’s a bad thing.
The mid range punch in the engine is the real gem right between 3000 and 5000 RPM, but higher than that you get a nice rough engine note. It’s a toss up. There’s more than enough punch in the mid range, but you’ll be working a bit harder to make sure you’re getting the most out as it tops out at 5500RPM, where in the Renault or the Golf R the power holds on for a bit longer in the rev range. Ford’s e-diff does well to cope with the 184kW to the front wheels with minimal torque steer. The 0-100km/h time was a shock, it feels a lot faster than it actually is at 6.5seconds. It never feels slow, but the urgency and “I’m going to kill myself-ness” of the RS Cup isn’t quite there. It’s more reserved. It’s more … grown up.
Handling and ride comfort
Turn the taps on before the corner and you can feel that exquisite chassis at work. Lowered (10mm) sports suspension isn’t uncomfortable or too harsh. It’s one of the few cars that really feels very well planted with huge levels of grip at all times, whilst still giving enough driver feedback. Steering is now electronic, but the feel isn’t numb as a visit to the dentist and gains weight nicely as speed piles on.
Styling and features
I feel the car has aged a bit quickly in the looks department, more evolution than revolution. There are two “spec” levels, the ST1 (R309 530) and ST3 (R353 700). Although there are no mechanical differences, the roughly R44K will buy you extremely comfortable and supportive leather Recaro seats, additional info screen, bi-xenon headlamps with running lights, climate control and keyless entry. I had the very well equipped ST3 on test and the interior is a huge leap (nay, warp jump) from the previous ST. My only gripe is the plethora of buttons on the SONY Bluetooth audio system and the way in-which the two different screens are operated.
Ford Focus ST conclusion
The success of the GTI as an all-rounder is due to exactly that, its dual-purpose nature, delivering both sublime runaround ability as well as the smile on your face when you feel like a good race. The ST1 at R309K is exceptional value. It’s R80K cheaper than the Golf R and R50K cheaper than the Renault RS 265. Get the ST1, save the money and pour it into some tyres or your fuel bill, you’re going to need both.