Ford Focus ST

Fast Fords are always loved by petrol-heads and for now Focus ST is the hottest Focus you can buy.

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The front-wheel drive hatchback features some very tasty exterior styling tweaks to let onlookers know that it is no ordinary Focus: the front bumper gets a performance look and a clever oversized grille that features an active shutter system. When the engine is hot it stays open and it closes when cold, plus it aids aerodynamics and improves fuel consumption. An average fuel consumption figure of 7.2 l/100km is quoted by Ford with a 169g/CO2 figure.

The car's flanks show off big 18-inch alloys, while at the rear ST features a stunningly good-looking, centre-mounted exhaust. Of course, there is hatch-top spoiler, too. Surprisingly, there are a few normal colours available, but the Tangerine Scream and Frozen White jump out a bit more than the Panther Black or Moondust Silver.

Inside the cabin features heavily bolstered Recaro sports seats with optional colour-coded inserts and, most importantly, a unique numbered metal plaque in front of the six-speed gear lever. Embossed are letters identifying the country the car has been sold in and the car's production number e.g., 001, 002 etc.

Power comes from a 2-litre, 250bhp 'EcoBoost' petrol engine that can propel the car from 0-100km/h in just 6.5 seconds. The engine pulls strongly, too, with 360nm of torque available across a wide rev range. ST is quick, but as we always say a fast car is only as good as its brakes and ST doesn't disappoint. 320mm front discs are a good deal bigger than the old ST's and they scrub off speed very well.

On the road the suspension is stiffer than the last ST and this makes the car a bit more usable at higher speeds. The steering has a razor-sharp rack and this helps deliver grin-inducing fun on twisty routes. Despite some criticism of the electric power steering the 'Enhanced' Torque Vectoring Control system in the ST manages to entertain and involve at the same time.

The trick to the improved system is its ability to monitor the road's surface and how the car is interacting with it 100 times per second. The system then can intervene by braking the front wheels individually before any wheel slip takes place to keep you on your intended track – very clever. The system can also apply the brakes to the rear wheels, too.

Clearly, there is a lot of technology going on under the ST's skin and there are a host of other 'Focus' driving aids available like Active City Stop - that will help you avoid low-speed collisions - and, of course, Ford SYNC connectivity.

So, with 250bhp through the front wheels, surely the ST torque steers like a snake? Well no, it doesn't, actually. Using again clever electronic aids the front wheels do an excellent job of getting most of the power down to the road surface without wanting to drive off in different directions! Ford's 'Torque Steer Compensation' does exactly what it says on the tin.

Is ST the ultimate Focus? Eh, no. With a bonkers RS on the horizon, it simply can't be crowned king, but it is still a huge amount of fun, while being civilised, too.

ST is available as a station wagon also – perfect to make DIY a lot quicker.

Michael Sheridan


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