TG Speed Week: the Scotland Showdown
We’ve got two days in Scotland to reach a definitive verdict on our favourite performance car. Time to loch and load...
Posted: 31 Aug 2012
OM: It has a mean turn of speed. If I'm honest, I hoped the ST would be a bit edgier, like the RS Megane, so initially I found it podgy. But, as I spent more time with it, I really got it. The engine's sharper than the old five-cylinder and doesn't rely on turbo noise for character. It sounds marvellous. There's a little torque-steer, but I liked how adjustable the ST was. It's a rufty-tufty hot hatch, robust and meaty and fun. But, by the standards of this group, I just found it a bit bouncy. For me, a bit more focus from the Focus would've been nice.
SP: Hopefully, there's an RS on the way for that. And Scotland loved the Focus. They get hot hatches up here, and, honestly, the ST drew more cameraphone clicks than the McLaren.
OM: I guess the Focus is a car we can all aspire to. I'm expecting to come up here next year and see hoards of STs wailing through the Glens, every one painted vivid orange.
SP: Tangerine Scream, you mean?
OM: Bear this in mind. Unlike the Astra GTC, which only failed to deny the Focus its place here on cost grounds, the ST doesn't have much mechanical trickery to boast about. No RevoKnuckle suspension like the old Focus RS, no mechanical LSD. Just torque-vectoring, which isn't as clever as it sounds. You can see how Ford got the price so low. Even its engine is a commoner. Another car here is powered by it: the Radical.
SP: At least the ST has a roof. And a roof means respite from the midges. No one warns you about the Highland midges. They attack in their millions, burrowing into every orifice and turning you into a flapping, screaming madman. I've been bitten in places I didn't even know a midge could reach.