First impressions of the Focus ST? There is nothing subtle about the styling and the exterior is now far more aggressive than before, dominated by the Aston Martin-esque gaping black mesh grille. Under this exterior the changes are also striking and the suspension has been upgraded and the steering adjusted plus there are high performance tyres to sharpen the drive. While Tangerine Scream is still the colour of choice for standing out in the supermarket car park the Metal Grey or Panther Black are the more subtle options.
What about the interior? Slip behind the wheel and the Recaro sports seats grip your hips like a drunk in a nightclub which is just what you need as the ST catapults from 0 to 60 in 6.5 seconds. The interior is simple and intuitive and you can tweak the driving position until it fits you perfectly. While the ST can tame the sharpest hair pin bend it would be just as much fun on the school run. In the estate guise it is a very practical car and even the boot in this family-friendly athlete can swallow 1,516 litres.
And under the bonnet? Along with the 250PS EcoBoost petrol the ST is now also available for the first time in diesel delivering 182bhp, 0-60 in a smoking 8 seconds with an incredible claimed economy figure of 4.2 litres per 100 or 67mpg and 110g/km. Purists will opt for petrol but while the diesel is slower it is deliciously smooth and in the estate version makes for a compelling family car.
Focus ST in the city?The ST feels good just driving around town, and both engines behave discreet and refined in heavy commuter traffic.
Focus ST on the open road? Our test routes were the mountainous roads above Barcelona where blind corners, corkscrew curves, straight lines for intermediate sprints and changing road surfaces would challenge the most agile of cars. The ST proves beautifully sure-footed in the S bends and accompanied by a sublime exhaust note and while it is not entirely authentic when that soundtrack pumps a deep throaty noise into the cabin, all is forgiven. On these roads the ST just begs to be driven hard and the steering is fast and responsive. The formidable suspension tuning proves crucial on the Catalan mountain roads, firm but never jarring. There is currently no sharper and more complete hot hatch than the Focus ST, that is until the new Focus RS comes out.
How Much? Prices for the new Ford Focus ST start at £22,195 for the ST-1 and 23,295.0 for an estate version. Running costs are lower on this car than the previous version and according to Ford it is the most fuel efficient Focus ST ever thanks to and an auto-Start-Stop that improves the EcoBoost engine version’s fuel efficiency by six per cent.
What about my options: Both the 250PS EcoBoost petrol and 185PS TDCi diesel 2.0-litre engines are offered in the ST-1, ST-2 and ST-3 series.
3 words to describe the Focus ST; Aggressive; Sizzling; Usable
12th February, 2015