Motoring and Property Editor
6:03 PM 11th August 2020
The Focus Of My Attention – Sporty ST On Test
Ford has a history of making hot hatches that offer high performance thrills, coupled with affordable pricing and practicality. The concept still works today and allows the enthusiastic driver to own a car that will be suitable for family duties one minute and excite on a favourite piece of B-road next.
What is it?
Ford has confirmed that the Focus RS will not be replaced, so the ST on test here will serve as their range-topping hot hatch. Under the bonnet now sits a 2.3-litre turbocharged engine that also does sterling service in the Mustang.
The Focus is now a five-door model only, great for practicality, if not for sporty looks. You can also get an estate version and the higher mileage driver might be drawn to the diesel engine.
Ford Focus ST
2.3-litre turbocharged petrol engine
Power – 280PS
Torque – 420Nm
0-62mph in 5.7 seconds
Combined economy 34.4mpg
Emissions 179g/km CO2
How does it drive?
Ford has long been the master of making fine handling front-wheel drive cars and the ST must surely be one of the best handling cars in its class. Body roll is minimal and the car’s poise excellent. I had an absolute blast piloting the ST over some of my favourite Dales test routes.
If there is a criticism, the low speed ride quality is a tad harsh, but I suspect the typical ST buyer will not be overly concerned. Passengers on the other hand may comment.
The engine delivers exhilarating performance and will pull hard right up to the red line. It makes a great sound too, which adds to the experience. It feels every bit as fast as the figures suggest.
Putting all that power down through only the front wheels was always going to be a challenge, but a capable torque-vectoring system ensures good traction and a lack of torque steer. The steering itself is ideally weighted too and offers plenty of feel.
Drive it with gusto and I doubt you will break 30mpg. I didn’t!
Should I buy one?
If you are after a bit of excitement behind the wheel from your everyday driving, but need a car that can fulfil family duties, then the hot hatch is still the way forward.
The ST comes laden with equipment too. Highlights include a head-up display, Bang and Olufsen sound system and adaptive cruise control. There is no need to consult the options list apart from the choice of paint colour.
The list is long and first to spring to mind is the Golf in GTi and R forms. A practical interior, zesty performance and German build quality will surely win many hearts.
Spanish sister company SEAT offers the Leon Cupra, a viable alternative and great value for money.
And then there is the Honda Civic TYPE R. It has a certain appeal, not least the way it performs. Looks are somewhat more divisive, but for those who want to stand out, the TYPE R takes some beating. I prefer to keep a lower profile…
Hot hatch thrills, everyday practicality and relatively affordable pricing are the order of the day. The Focus ST continues the great tradition of fast Fords and will doubtless delight and thrill an enthusiastic owner with its all round capabilities.