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The Top Gear car review:Ford Focus ST
For:Price, yes, but so much more besides: the Focus ST is a great hot hatch
Against:The diesel doesn’t quite hit the spot for us
2.0T ST-2 5dr
What’s this then?
Nice try. Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last 12 months, you’ll be well aware of what we...
This isn’t the new...
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Ford’s bigger hot hatch gets new looks, new diesel power and more tech, but it still majors on value. A Good Thing, then…
The Focus magic is back, but it’s pricey if you pick the most interesting engine.
The world’s best-selling car has had a big update, and there’s a new 180bhp turbo. We drive it
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“The new Ford Focus ST is astonishing. Sublime. Minty-fresh magnificent.” Sam Philip reports…
This Focus has a 1.0-litre engine. Think that means it’ll struggle to pull a kite? You’re wrong…
Extra 30bhp over the regular 1.6 Ecoboost is nice enough, but don’t you go getting any ideas now…
Great on the M-way, good on B-roads. Still a top car, but a little short on sparkle
The first-gen Focus was a game-changer, the second-gen Focus was better still, but it’s third time unlucky for Ford
Has the globalisation of one of our favourite cars blunted its edge?
Things gone a bit flat between you and your ST? Reignite the passion and forget about that pesky RS…
Forget your individuality. Don’t avoid it just because everyone else has one. Fun and sensible at the same time.
Ford knew the old Escort was crap. So it took them seven minutes to take our mind off it with an astonishing range topper. The RS Cosworth with...
What we say:
The much anticipated new Focus ST doesn't disappoint. Amazing price is icing on the cake of a fine hot hatch
What is it?
The ST is no longer the hottest Focus around, what with the new AWD RS. That does give it a renewed, slightly softer role in the world, signalled by a sparky diesel version joining the range. And no, it’s not called the STD.
Small changes from a semi-recent facelift include retuned electric power steering and stiffer suspension. You might notice the latter; this is certainly no limo on Britain’s broken tarmac. But if you can tolerate a purposely focused ride, here’s a car with a grippy front end – thanks to some clever torque vectoring – which goads you into going faster and faster at each corner, just as a good hot hatch should.
The petrol is just as before: extremely flexible in its power delivery yet grateful for a good revving, too, allowing you to stir the snickety manual gearchange as much or as little as you like. There’ll be no paddle-shifting here. Really extend the engine out and this is a blooming fast car, swifter perhaps than even its tidy its 6.5sec 0-62mph time suggests. The 182bhp diesel, meanwhile, is notably the less stimulating of the two cars, its 0-62mph time pegged at 8.1sec. And as the powerband wanes just north of 4,000rpm, so might your excitement. But its 27kg premium over the petrol model isn’t immediately obvious, turn-in remaining keen and precise. It just lacks the effervescence that makes the petrol such a blast.
On the inside
It’s a vast improvement on before in here, with the messy array of buttons in the pre-facelift Focus tidied up nicely by a new touchscreen media system. Happily, Ford’s kept the extra dials on top of the dash. STs get some good-looking and rather hugging Recaro seats, too, which are ace. And if you find the regular five-door Focus isn’t quite practical enough for your needs, the ST is one of the few hot hatches with an estate variant in the brochure. Happily, it gives nothing noticeable dynamically to the hatch.
Value continues to be an ST forte. Barely any buyers go for the headline £22,750 car, instead choosing the smarter ST2 and ST3 variants. The latter gets Ford’s swish new Sync 2 touchscreen media system and, at £26,550, it’s barely more than a base Leon Cupra, while cheaper than a basic (and 30bhp lighter) Golf GTI. And while there’s no difference in price between the petrol and diesel, unless your car choice is dictated by economy figures and CO2-linked company car tax, we’d stay petrol.