New Ford Focus ST – Performance with Style.

 For over 50 years, Ford has been making affordable fast cars that offer the pace, practicality and sporting intent to keep a keen driver happy. With plenty of fast five-door rivals ready to do battle, Ford set out to deliver on its Sports Technologies (ST) badge by ensuring that the fourth-generation Focus ST comes laden with the latest driving technology, and has the dynamic sharpness for edge-of-the-seat driving thrills.

Ultimate Hot Hatch Reinvented;

Rivals to the Focus ST include the Honda Civic Type-R, Renault Megane RS, VW Golf GTI, and the Hyundai i30N. While most of this competitor set have opted for 2.0-litre petrol power, Ford stands out in choosing to go with its 2.3-litre EcoBoost unit for the Focus ST. The engine produces 276bhp (280PS) with a thumping 420Nm of torque, and is the same unit used in the Ford Mustang. Ford has also introduced a diesel ST model using a 2.0-litre EcoBlue turbo diesel engine with 187bhp. (190PS). In addition to the five-door hatch bodystyle, there is also the Ford Focus ST estate version offering more load-lugging capacity to go with the driving fun. Both the hatch and estate petrol models are front-wheel drive and offer 0-100km/h times of 5.7 and 5.8-seconds respectively, while the diesel engine models are able to cover the same sprint in little over 7.5-seconds. Solid Race Red paint is a no-cost option, with six other colours available from Ford’s Premium and Exclusive ranges. It is widely recognised that the new Ford Focus stands out as the best driver’s car in the class, complimented by a fine ride quality and terrific practicality, with the stunning ST model adding thrilling performance to the mix.

Test Car;

My test car was a 2.3-litre EcoBoost Ford Focus ST-2 5-door, which was finished in exclusive Ford Performance Blue paintwork. Featuring anti-lag and Electronic Limited Slip Differential (eLSD) technologies, the new Focus ST is the most powerful, agile, and responsive yet, and is the product of engineering genius from the Ford Performance professionals. The standard equipment in the new Focus ST is impressive, with key features such as 18” ST-Design Magnetide alloy wheels, front lower grille in high gloss black, front & rear parking sensors, LED headlights and tail-lights, performance suspension with CCD (Continuously Controlled Damping), ST aluminium gear knob, black headliner, FordPass Connect, gauges integrated into a 4.2” TFT coloured cluster, dual zone Electronic Automatic Temperature Control, auto-dimming rear-view mirror, and partial leather Recaro performance seats. Optional extras fitted to my review car included a Performance Pack (rev matching, shift indicator, launch control, multi-colour ambient lighting, and red brake calipers), a Heads-Up Display (HUD), and a rear wide-view camera.

Driving Thrills;

The 2.3-litre turbocharged petrol engine delivers plenty of low-down grunt to help fire the car through corners – and back out. Ford has also given a nod to its motorsport heritage by including rally car-like anti-lag technology. The car’s standard six-speed manual gearbox is precise in its execution, and is perfectly suited to the sporty nature of the ST. The ST’s steering is now 15% faster than that of a standard Focus, while Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tyres provide plenty of front end bite upon acceleration, and terrific grip when braking. There is an electronically-controlled limited-slip differential to assist with finding better traction, and the chassis gets adaptive dampers for the first time. Also debuting on the ST are drive modes that are able to alter throttle response, and the noise the electronic sound enhancement system makes, to augment the engine note. Conveniently located on the steering wheel, the drive mode control lets the ST driver tailor the cars drivability to suit the road conditions at hand. These modes consist of Normal, Sport, Slippery and Track options, with each mode capable of providing the driver with the requested assitance at all times.

Spacious Cabin & Boot;

A roomy cabin ensures that all occupants are equally well catered for, with ample leg, elbow and head room on offer. Boot space is equally impressive, with 375-litres available with the rear seat backs in place, but this extends to 1,354-litres when the rear seats are folded flat. High quality construction of the dashboard provides the Focus ST with a premium feel, while – thanks to a heavily bolstered design – seat comfort is faultless.

Verdict & Pricing;

Overall, the new Ford Focus ST is thrilling to drive, brimming with lots of driver-focused technology, comfortable, roomy and is as capable to drive on a motorway as it is on a twisty back road. Pricing for the new Ford Focus ST starts at €41,099 (ex-works), with a suite of optional extra on offer for total personalistaion.

Visit www.ford.ie for further information.