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Ford Focus ST

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Ford Focus ST
9/10

Overall
verdict

In credit-crunched Britain, Ford’s got the formula spot-on. Affordable fun: perfect.

Additional Info

  • Price, yes, but so much more besides: the Focus ST is a great hot hatch
  • Top Gear wildcard

    The Skoda Octavia vRS is even more practical than this, although it’s not as powerful or as fast...

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What is it?

Well, we didn’t expect this. Ford hasn’t been noted for offering stunning value for money of late. The latest ST instantly rectifies that though, with list prices starting at under £22k. For a 250bhp turbocharged five-door hot hatch that’s been given the full and fabled ST makeover, that’s remarkable, and immediately means we should pay attention to the new fast Ford. Help is provided here by a typically well-judged exterior makeover that is purposeful yet not overdone. Well, not unless you choose the vivid orange paint option, that is. It’s particularly good-looking from the front, and has sporting purpose the ever-so-slightly-too-subtle VW Golf GTI lacks.

Driving

Ford employs chassis tuning geniuses and they’ve been gainfully employed here. The Focus ST drives with real poise and grace, delivering the agility of a supermini hot hatch but with the extra composure of something that bit bigger. It’ll both wag its tail if you lift off mid-corner yet also ride with firm, controlled comfort too. The fast-reacting steering is also excellent, with more weight and feedback than many modern helms.

The 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine lacks a cylinder compared to the old one, but doesn’t feel lacking. It’s blissfully smooth and a development of the old sound symposer cleverly pulses the exhaust note into the cabin so it sounds a bit like a rorty five-pot too. There’s no limited-slip diff erential or RevoKnuckle front suspension: Ford controls power delivery using electronic means, and very ably it’s done, too.

On the inside

An ST tradition is the dash-top pack of additional dials, which makes a welcome appearance here, along with a cracking set of Recaros that adjust much lower than the old ones. It’s very well built and has an air of class, while the five-door, big-boot, space-aplenty cabin is also as practical as they come. The fact all models have DAB, Bluetooth, keyless start and USB connectivity is also to be praised. Other brands charge royally for these features.

 

Owning

The lead-in price is the real star attraction here, but although it’s extremely worthy, few are likely to go for this one. The expected best-seller is the ST-2 which, for £1,500 more, adds worthy extras such as climate control, part-leather seats, Sony stereo and auto headlights. Or why not spend an extra £2k on the lavish ST-3? It’s so well-priced, you can afford to: even this is cheaper than a Golf GTI…

Ditching the old 2.5-litre engine means economy is 20 per cent better, with an average of 39.2mpg, while 169g/km CO2 emissions are sufficiently planet-friendly.

 

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