Discovering the Focus ST's 'secret' Easter egg mode
Bet you haven’t heard much about the new Focus ST’s ‘Slippery’ mode. Yes, there’s the default Normal mode and then Sport and Track which amp up the noise and diff’s hunger for corners, while livening up the throttle and slacking off the traction control. But Slippery mode – for cowards, right? I don’t think so. I like the longer throttle, the lighter steering – the ST’s suddenly easier to drive smoothly.
Plus, so the car’s not unsettled when tackling icy roads, the rev-matching downshift blipper is activated in Slippery mode too. The weather’s very greasy of late and the Michelin PS4Ss are really struggling for traction, but even on dry days, Slippery has become my default setting. Now, if only there were an ‘Individual’ tailor-made mode.
I’ve tried to go along with Ford’s theory here. Really. I’ve interviewed the engineers and sat through more PowerPoint lectures than I did at school. And their thinking goes like this: if you offer an ‘Individual’ mode in a car, everyone just hops in, sets that how they like it (say: loud exhaust, angry engine, soft suspension, medium steering) and then… never touches the button again. They don’t chop and change and plump for Comfort mode in town and then Race mode on a track and maybe Individual mode on their favourite moorland road. They just tailor the car to their likes, then leave it there all the time.
What’s wrong with that? For me… nothing, I must say. But Ford’s think is that if they’re going to spend a lot of time and money and effort setting up modes, you should be encouraged to switch between them. That’s why the shortcut buttons are on the steering wheel, in easy reach.
I admit that the ‘S’ button taking the Focus straight to Sport mode is great when you want to make some noise on a sliproad, but the thicker steering weight that comes with it is unpleasant. I’d like, in an ideal world, the Track-spec engine map (with traction control left on), Normal steering, Sport suspension and Sport electronic diff. But, that’s a pipe dream, so Slippery mode it is.
I’ve spotted a couple of other own-goals too. Why is the shift-up light – a feature of the £250 Performance Pack – so tiny and dim it’s barely visible to see as the revs climb to the redline? Seems dumb. Worse still, since we’re talking poor visibility, are the minuscule door mirrors – once they’re coated with raindrops or dirt, safe overtaking is a total lottery. One more? Okay – the glovebox interior isn’t lined with any carpet, so anything housed in there – pens, coins, snacks (anything besides gloves, really) buzzes like a wasp in a pint glass.