current advertising strapline
is Feel the Difference.
best place to do this is to get behind
the wheel of the Focus ST, which
has done much to drive up Fords
FOR PEOPLE WHO WANT A NEW FORD FOCUS WITH A BIT MORE BRAND VALUE, a bit more
image and considerably more performance, the ST three- and five-door hatchbacks
are the answer.
These 222bhp five-cylinder turbocharged, higher performance models are currently
the most sporty Focus models until the more muscular Focus RS 276bhp front-wheel
drive variant arrives next year. This forthcoming model uses the same 2.5-litre-turbocharged
petrol engine as the current ST models but tuned for more power and more torque:
For a 'hot' performance car the Focus ST is a bit understated compared to most
of the competition only the electric orange paintwork model and WRC striped
versions make a visual 'performance' statement. There's not much in the way
of visual clues (twin rear exhaust pipes, rear under-bumper diffuser, semi-muscular
body mouldings, mesh grille and big alloy wheels) to suggest, at a quick glance,
that the ST is any different to an everyday Focus hatchback. Inside the ST there
are Recaro front sports seats and metal-finished pedals to 'glam-up' the cabin.
The front-wheel drive Focus ST is no all-wheel drive Lancer Evolution X or Subaru
WRX STi slayer it competes more happily with the Honda Civic Type-R and
the VW Golf GTi. Where it scores over all of them is in its broad spread of
torque 236lb ft of torque from 1,600 through to 4,000rpm which
makes it extremely responsive and flexible for day-to-day driving on our congested
and winding roads.
The Focus ST (available in three- or five-door body style with either ST, ST-2
or ST-3 specification) is priced at a competitive £18,545 to £21,145, plus options.
My sporty Focus test model was a 5-door ST-2 priced at £20,145. However, fitted
with numerous options including the touch-screen navigation system, it came
in at £22,445. Like all Focus models the ST versions have Electronic Stability
Control but, in the case of the ST variants, this also incorporates traction
control. All Focus models also have Ford's award-winning EasyFuel capless and
mistake-free fuel filler system.
Apart from the civilised performance and muscular looks, the ST runs on 5-spoke
18-inch alloy wheels and a sports suspension which, thankfully, is not so hard
that it spoils the driving experience. ST-2 specification adds an upgraded Sony
radio/CD audio system, Bi-xenon headlights with rear LED lights and a QuickClear
windscreen. For those customers still wanting more, ST-3 adds a further Sony
sound system upgrade and full leather for the Recaros.
So we have a nice package comprising of a high-torque, strong and responsive
petrol engine that makes overtaking easy, a slick 6-speed close-ratio gearbox,
sporty styling, nicely 'kitted out' sports interior, room for four adult passengers,
a sports suspension which actually delivers a comfortable ride and a genuine
family sports machine with a top speed of 150mph and 0-62mph acceleration of
CO2, at 224g/km, places it in VED Band F and an annual road tax bill of £210
(£300 from April 2009). Fuel economy is officially 30.4mpg combined my
test car returned 24.6mpg for day-to-day motoring which included visits to my
local town, motorway trips and travelling along British A- and B-class roads
as well as bursts of acceleration passing slow-moving holiday traffic.
Summing up is pretty straightforward: on the plus side we can list fast, mid-range
power and response, good body control, conservative sports styling, comfortable
and well priced. On the against side there's just nose-heavy handling during
tight cornering and the fact that it's not exciting enough, for some, either
in looks or outright performance. Overall we'd say that 'civilised performance
at a good price' accurately describes the Focus ST. While it might not be an
exciting Evo X or Scooby WRX STi beater when it comes to performance and grip,
it is more driveable on today's busy roads. And far less pricey. David
Ford Focus ST-2
5-door | £20,145
Maximum speed: 150mph | 0-62mph: 6.8 seconds
Overall test MPG: 24.6mpg | Power: 222bhp | Torque: 236lb ft