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“It’s able of punching you in the aback the moment you hit the throttle,” says Leo Roeks, administrator of Ford Performance. “Drivers can accept abounding aplomb in its adeptness to bear on the track.”
His words complete like a sales bend for new Focus RS, not a battling for the Golf GTI. The Focus ST is still semi-sensible – in theory, at least.
Sadly, the fourth-gen Focus RS has been canned – a victim of ever-tightening emissions legislation. But its affable ST accessory promises abundant on paper. And Ford has anatomy aback it comes to hot hatchbacks.
I aggregate the keys at Nice airport, set the aeronautics for the aerial Route Napoleon and brace my back…
The ST uses a detuned adaptation of the 2.3-litre Ecoboost agent from the antecedent Focus RS and accepted Ford Mustang. It drives the advanced auto via a six-speed chiral gearbox (a seven-speed paddleshift auto is optional) and cyberbanking advanced differential. Peak ability of 280hp at 5,000rpm agency 0-62mph in 5.7sec: assets of 30hp and 0.8sec against the approachable ST. Top dispatch is capped at 155mph.
A class-leading 310lb ft (420Nm) of torque at 4,000rpm is what absolutely stands out, though. The ST’s in-gear dispatch is quicker than the old Focus RS, and quarter-mile times are nigh-on identical. A able anti-lag arrangement – aboriginal apparent on the Ford GT supercar – keeps the turbo spinning amid shifts.
Stopping ability is added with aloft 330mm advanced discs, twin-piston calipers and an electric anchor booster. The ST additionally rides 10mm lower than a approved Focus and adaptive dampers are accepted on the five-door hatch. As for efficiency, Ford quotes 35.7mpg and 179g/km.
Another hasty amount is active at the basal of the blueprint sheet. At £33,360, the ST is priced on par with a Golf GTI and about £3,000 added than an i30N Performance. It’s additionally a whopping £9,000 added than a top-spec Fiesta ST-3. Engineering bang-up Stefan Munzinger again acclimated the appellation “affordable performance”, but frankly, the ST seems a bit pricey.
For the budget-conscious, there’s additionally a 190hp 2.0-litre agent ST. It allotment a thriftier 58.8mpg and 125g/km, and starts at £30,250 – about the aforementioned as a Golf GTD. Sadly, it wasn’t accessible to drive at the launch.
You can additionally accept an acreage adaptation of the petrol or agent for £1,400 more. This serves up 608 litres of amount space, against 375 in the auto (1,653/1,354 with rear seats bankrupt flat)
The man in a Ford Performance polo shirt offers a best of Performance Blue or Orange Fury, both absolute colours for the ST. Naturally, I opt for the latter. This is the ST’s accepted signature shade, starting with Electric Orange on the aboriginal Mk2, again Tangerine Scream on the Mk3. This latest may be the brightest orange yet; in the angry July calefaction it looks about radioactive.
Look aloft the fruity paint, however, and the new ST is almost subtle. A bore advanced grille improves cooling, the tailgate addle-brain adopts a added advancing bend and accompanying tailpipes blow out from a bogus diffuser.
Alloys are 18 inches, or you can opt for the ‘Magnetite’ matt 19-inchers apparent here. Either way, they’re captivated in bespoke Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tyres.
Make up your own apperception about the ST’s styling, but I’m adequate Ford hasn’t gone abounding Halfords. The Focus is already absolutely fussy, with scalloped, BMW-style flanks and abundant haunches, so it doesn’t charge added drama. The Honda Civic Type R shows what happens aback designers get over-excited.
It’s agnate to a accepted Focus inside, too, although big-bolstered Recaro seats, an aluminium accessory knob, admixture pedals and smatterings of affected carbon fibre adumbration lighten the mood. Crucially, those seats are now army lower, so you no best feel perched on top of the car.
Controls for the drive modes – a aboriginal for the Focus ST – are on the council caster (rather than the centre console, as in the Fiesta). “BAM! They’re appropriate there aback you charge them,” whoops Leo, a man who calls Ford’s Lommel test-track his “office”. There’s a one-touch Sport button, added addition for cycling through Slippery/Wet, Normal and Sport.
Opt for the Performance Pack and you get an added Clue setting, but there’s no RS-style Drift mode. This is a front-wheel-drive car, remember?
2019 Ford Focus ST on analysis today.
This car has a continued history with orange: Electric Orange on the Mk2, Tangerine Scream on the Mk3 and Orange Fury on this new Mk4. pic.twitter.com/8JrN21nffH
— Tim Pitt (@timpitt100) July 1, 2019
Elsewhere, the Sync 3 touchscreen media arrangement is automatic to use and connects to your smartphone via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. And you get all the acumen of a Focus auto – or absolutely acreage – including amplitude for three adults in the back.
In a breach with the past, Ford no best offers ST-1, ST-2 and ST-3 trim levels. “The majority of barter chose the ST-3 anyway,” says Stefan. Instead, there is a single, well-equipped spec, with a bound best of options on top.
The Performance Pack, which includes Clue mode, adaptive ‘CCD’ suspension, barrage ascendancy and rev-matching for the chiral gearbox, is a must-have. It costs £250 on the ST petrol bear (which already has CCD) or £800 for added models.
Threading my way through traffic-choked Nice, I’m aboriginal addled by how amenable the ST feels. Its ride is abstinent but forgiving, shrugging off burghal pockmarks area a Renault Megane RS would jitter and jolt. Its council is ablaze (“We formed adamantine to abolish abrasion from the system,” explains Stefan) and its accessory batten moves with well-oiled precision. So far, so Focus.
As the alley carves its way into the Alpine foothills, I ache at the Sport button. Instantly the Focus feels, well, added focused: burke acknowledgment sharpens, dampers close and the council assets added heft.
Best of all, rev-matching is activated, which replicates the aftereffect of heel-and-toe downshifts, analogous agent and caster speeds for smoother braking and cornering. There’s some torque beacon as you advance away, however.
Switching to Clue ramps up the activity of the e-diff, hooking the car into apices as the bankrupt pop-pops on the over-run. The adverse amid drive modes is added arresting than the ‘always on’ Fiesta ST, but alike at maximum-attack the ST moves with a adaptability that some rivals lack.
What’s missing is that clear-sighted affiliation and adventurous archness that’s fabricated the Fiesta such a band car. The Focus is added rounded, yet it’s missing a little magic.
Make no mistake, though, the ST serves up austere cross-Provence pace. The Ecoboost agent punches adamantine from 2,500rpm and revs keenly, helped by abbreviate accessory ratios and the anti-lag tech. It never feels abbreviate of boost and its abrasive soundtrack (artificially enhanced, admittedly) is affably evocative of the old, five-cylinder Focus ST.
There’s affluence of anchor afore the anatomy eventually defaults to understeer and the brakes affect confidence, too. The booster adjusts bite-point to accumulate pedal acknowledgment consistent, so they never go bendable – alike on continued abundance descents. Addition added benefit – and one of the joys of a hot bear – the Focus absolutely feels the appropriate admeasurement for these roads.
On attenuated lanes area a supercar would feel squeezed, it hardly needs to apathetic down. If you’re absolutely activity for it, the gearbox allows clutchless flat-shifting abreast the redline.
This, then, is a car that flatters your mistakes and makes it accessible to drive ‘enthusiastically’. I’ve been accomplishing aloof that for hours and the mid-afternoon calefaction is like an oven outside. But with the air-con set to deep-freeze, I’m still airy and acquisitive to go.
Perhaps that’s the point. Aimed absolutely at the hot bear heartland, the ST needs to beat a lot of boxes. It has to assignment as a circadian driver, a school-run shuttle, a ancestors attache – and it does all of those with a agnate across of abilities to the criterion Golf GTI.
Nonetheless, while it may be ‘everyman’, the ST isn’t for everyone. The Honda Civic Type R, i30N and Megane RS are all added agitative on the appropriate road, while spending a little added on the Mercedes-AMG A35 gets you a absolutely exceptional berth and four-wheel drive. I’d apparently still go for the Golf, but that’s as abundant bottomward to claimed alternative (I’ve endemic several GTIs before) as cold assessment.
The Focus ST isn’t a head-and-shoulders aloft the antagonism like the ablaze Fiesta. But it’s a actual quick and able hot bear that, I suspect, would barb its way into your angel over time.
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