For Ford, the BBC TopGear magazine Hot Hatch of the Year Award means another pole position. After the Fiesta ST swept the board last year, the Focus ST triumphantly follows in its tyre marks. Put simply, no other hot hatch on the market ticks as many boxes so resoundingly. More than that, it feels like a car that was made with love, and as a result, it’ll be driven with a whole lot of love in return. Read on to find out just what makes it such a winning machine.Advertisement - Page continues below
The Focus ST comes with four Selectable Drive Modes: Slippery, Normal, Sport and Track. Each adjusts the car’s settings to allow you to experience hot hatch nirvana in varying degrees, including engine mapping, throttle position, brake pedal and steering response. Enjoy a day at the track with Enhanced Torque Vectoring, Electronic Stability Control and a performance-tuned chassis that combine to ensure perfectly smooth handling every time. The experience is further enhanced with eLSD technology. This electronic system limits the amount of engine torque delivered to any wheel with reduced traction and redistributes up to 100% of the available torque through the wheel with the most traction. That means no wheelspin as you accelerate out of a corner.
The ST is available with a choice of two engines, both of which come with more power, more torque and faster revving sports performance. The 2.3-litre Ford EcoBoost engine delivers 276bhp and more than 300lb ft of torque, all of which will take you from 0-62mph in under six seconds. Although slightly less powerful, the 2.0-litre EcoBlue diesel engine is no slouch either.Advertisement - Page continues below
It’s the combination of its speed off the line and a metronomic gearbox that makes the Focus ST such a pleasure to drive. The Launch Control is designed to assist with acceleration off the line, enabling setting of the desired maximum RPM for the engine before accelerating. The gearbox, however, is where it really starts to show off. Rev-matching technology makes downshifting an impossibly slick process, especially as it enables the driver to maintain momentum with advanced heel and toe techniques. Old stagers needn’t worry, however. The technology can be easily turned off. A red ST icon on the rev counter also illuminates to tell you exactly when to shift gears.
You can leave even more of the hard work to the ST if you fancy it, thanks to Co-Pilot360 – a bundle of tech that makes navigating congested roads a lot less likely to grind your gears, including Adaptive Cruise Control, Standard Pre-Collision Assist with Autonomous Emergency Braking and Evasive Steering Assist. It’ll even recognise speed signs and adjust your speed accordingly – great news for haters of speed awareness courses.
On the outside, Adaptive Lighting with Ford Dynamic LED headlights adjust automatically to suit the road and driving conditions, and the glare-free high beam will dull to avoid dazzling other drivers (because who wants to be that guy?). The new system predicts the future (kind of), by reading the curve of the road and illuminating corners and crossings before you enter them.
All this is to say nothing of the ride, which is blissfully serene thanks to Ford’s sophisticated Continuously Controlled Damping technology. It constantly feeds information to the suspension, and adjusts individual damping responses accordingly. Choose the Performance Pack and an enhanced, adaptive version of CCD will make further damping adjustments based on your chosen drive mode.Advertisement - Page continues below