By Declan Glynn
Back in 2002, Ford launched their very first fast Focus, the ST170. Based on the ground-breaking Mk1 Focus, the ST170 was essentially a spiritual successor to the Escort XR3i from the 1980’s, and was very well received across Europe.
The ST170 had a 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine, which produced a modest (by today’s standards) 170bhp, and it was a hoot to drive.
Aggressively Sculpted Design:
Now, three generations later, petrol power for Ford’s latest Focus ST comes courtesy of a 2.3-litre four-cylinder (EcoBoost) engine, which boasts 280bhp, and a whopping 420Nm of torque for swift acceleration.
Built as much for the track, as it is for the road, every component of the new Focus ST is fine-tuned for performance. The all-new Focus ST boasts an agressively-sculpted signature exterior, with a large rear spoiler designed to enhance aerodynamic performance.
Advanced Recaro sports seats provide a real sense of occasion to every journey, while also offering terrific support. An all-new Selectable Drive Mode feature (conveniently located on the steering wheel) 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.
The new Ford Focus ST is also available with a 2.0-litre turbo-diesel unit producing 190bhp, while a slick six-speed manual gearbox comes as standard, as does front wheel drive.
There is no automatic gearbox or all-wheel-drive option available in the new fast Focus. The ST sits 10mm lower to the road than the next sportiest model in the range (ST-Line), while the cars suspension springs are 20% stiffer at the front axle, and 13% stiffer at the rear.
The ST has stiffer anti-roll bars at the front and rear too, as well as its own special steering knuckles and stiffened suspension bushes.
Sporty alloy wheels are fitted with 235-section Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tyres, while uprated, electromechanically-actuated ventilated disc brakes also feature.
Car On Review:
My review 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, 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.
Excellent Driving Dynamics:
Capable of achieving a top speed of 250km/h, the Focus ST can sprint from 0-100km/h in just 5.7-seconds.
Co2 emissions of 179g/km translates into annual road tax of €750, while a fuel return of 8.2l/100km is possible from a combined driving cycle.
On the road, the new Focus ST really does show its true colours, with exhilarating driving dynamics and effortless acceleration taking centre stage, while strong brakes ensure that the Focus ST stops with the same urgency with which it accelerates.
However, the new ST is the latest in a long line of fast family cars that show being fun to drive doesn’t necessarily have to come at the expense of practicality. 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.
I found the driver seat to be extremely comfortable, cupping the thighs and rib cage firmly, but not restrictively.
Pricing & Warranty:
Providing exciting handling, and everyday usability, the new Ford Focus ST could very well be the only performance car you could ever need.
With pricing from €41,099 (ex-delivery), the Focus ST adds affordability to the performance car mix too. Ford’s 7-year/100,000km warranty comes as standard.
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