Ever since the day I heard about the Ford Focus ST being updated, I longed to squeeze my buttocks into the tight fitting Recaro seats, I clenched my fist and drew it to my mouth as I trawled the internet spy shots… it looks amazing.
I was sat at my desk procrastinating about cracking on with one of the many jobs around the house that ‘I’d started, but not finished’ when yet another email landed in my inbox. What is it this time I wondered, ‘Can we send you some scented candles to review Simon’ or ‘We’ve got an infographic on the history of the pallet we’d like you to share’.
Not this time… this time it was different, oh so very different, it was an invitation to spend a day at Sydney Motorsport Park thrashing round the new Ford Focus ST until A) it broke, or B) we got kicked out, whichever came first. The kicked out won. You can read about that, here – Ford Focus ST Trackday
“I’m more about the feel, the passion, the intimacy that you get from a car”
I’m not a big one for stats and all that technical stuff other people write about when reviewing cars, it leaves me cold and bored. I end up doing a Mr Bean impression as i’m reading it. You’re doing Mr Bean right now aren’t you…
I’m more about the feel, the passion, the intimacy that you get from a car and how it leaves you feeling when you’re driving it and also when you get out. Hopefully that feeling is Amazing! How did the Focus go? Let’s find out.
Let’s start with some stats… i’m kidding, let’s start with the real hot point of this car, is it better than the last one? For me, the answer is yes… and no. I’ll reveal more as you read on, firstly though, how fast is it? ‘Bloody Fast‘ is the answer.
Power delivery is pretty well instant from the four cylinder turbo and it hits it’s 100km/h straps in… I don’t know officially as they don’t seem to publish figures any more in Australia. It’s around 6.3 sec’s which is pretty sporty for a 5 door hatchback, slightly behind the Golf GTi which is half a second quicker at 5.8 sec’s but only half a second ahead of it’s little brother the Fiesta ST which get’s there in 6.7s.
“Power is for show, torque is for go!”
It bob’s on to a licence losing 240ish km/h with it’s sweet six speed gear box making it feel racy and the exhaust note rattling through the cabin you do get the sense that Ford have worked hard on the ST experience. At the heart of all this is the unchanged Ecoboost 2.0-litre turbo-petrol engine, which they have tweaked slightly to bring a little more power to the party. It now has 184kW/345Nm (360Nm on overboost) and is a version of the four-cylinder found in some locally-built models. Just remember the mantra “Power is for show, torque is for go!”, which the Focus has in spades. It does torque steer when accelerating hard, which, depending on how you handle, can scare you or make you smile, either way you’ve got to be on your game or it’ll chew you up and spit you out.
All that torque gives the Focus a wonderful flexibility, also less gear changes. So when you’re on the open roads finding yourself and exploring the ST’s limits you aren’t always reaching for the gear knob, unless you want to stir things up a little. Talking of gear changes, I feel that the lack of an Auto option could hurt sales in metropolis urban areas like Sydney. With all the traffic around nowadays, an auto option would be ‘The Go’ as clutches and gear changes for commuting are Sooooo 2010…
Let’s start the great gender debate
Q) Would more women buy this car if there were an auto/flappy paddle option?
A) I would guess yes.
Q) Would more men buy this car if there were an auto/flappy paddle option?
A) Again, I suspect yes.
For me the reason why more men and women would buy the Focus ST is that as I mentioned above, people drive cars for a living (sales, commuting, etc), people have something sporty as a second car (Families), people aspire to cars like the Focus and will use them for work/commuting/school run more than they will ever take them on a track day down at Sydney Motorsport Park. It’s just easier to do all of those things, ok, apart from the track-day, in an auto. The auto would actually be faster too! And that’s why, in my opinion, Ford need an auto option in this car going forwards.
All that being said, the Focus ST is still a great car that could happily adorn your driveway, have at your beck & call to satisfy your every octane fulled desire. The long way home from work through the winding roads, the necessary trip down to the shops to pick up some oregano for your spag bol, even though you’ve actually got plenty in the cupboard, any excuse to get behind the leather bound, multi-function, ergonomically designed, steering wheel. It really is that sort of a car.
There’s plenty of room inside the cabin for all passengers, the cabin is funky and chunky and the Recaro seats will hold all occupants safe and sound. It’s got plenty of gizmos, bluetooth, Sync2 voice control which you can order takeaways through (With practice!), navigation, chrome gear knob, chunky this and angled that. It is a very pleasant place to be. Couple that with the new colour options and you’ll be the talk of the town, not to mention checking yourself out in every shop window.
All roads lead to the fact that you need to drive one. Go and see if it’s the car for you, test it against any others you fancy. If you can drive it on roads you know, then take it on less crowded ones for a bit of a (Legal!) blast. Then decide. Don’t let any review or opinion stop you, you mustn’t.
For me, it’s like the boy I went to school with who was still only fifteen, but had the beard. He also had the deep voice. He’d matured a little differently than the rest of us and that’s a bit like the Focus ST. It’s not a Golf or a Megane, or any of the others in this segment, it’s a Focus and it’s happy being different.
Sharp New Looks – Wicked Engine – Great Ride & Handling – Gear shift (when arm rest out of way)
Need’s a Ltd slip diff – Exhaust note could be better (See Fiesta ST) – No Auto Option – Poor Turning Circle
Go find your local dealer and download a brochure here