1 February 2015

Ford's New Focus ST 'boosts' growl and grunt

At least four orders have already been placed, with deposits paid (sight unseen), for the new Ford Focus ST performance car which arrives here in March, writes Trish Whelan. Sporty and aggressive, it is the most advanced version yet.

It's believed the orders have come from driving enthusiasts who probably already own a Focus ST or a Focus RS car.

This is being billed as a sportscar for everyday driving - one that will appeal to those looking for a bit more grit, growl and grunt from their everyday car. Yet it won't break the bank to buy and is also practical to run.

The petrol version is powered by a 2.0, 250bhp EcoBoost engine and which can sprint from 0-100km/h in 6.5 seconds. It has a fuel consumption figure of 6.8 L/100kms (41.5 mpg) and emits 159g/km C02. Prices start at €39,100.

There's also, for the first time, a powerful diesel option; a 2.0 unit but with 185bhp and emitting only 110g/km of C02. It has been optimised to deliver ST performance and character. It takes 8.0 seconds for the same sprint and has an official fuel consumption figure of 4.2 L/100km (that's 67.3mpg). This is the same as a standard 1.6, 95bhp diesel Focus. Prices are from €39,800.

Both engines use a six-speed manual transmission with a performance-orientated short throw shift which is a joy to use. Both also offer Auto-Start-Stop for the first time that improves the EcoBoost version's fuel economy by six percent and helps make it the most fuel-efficient petrol Focus ST ever. There is no automatic version offered.

Recaro sports seat are snug, and offer good support, but for some with wide frames, it could be a tight fit! A skinny spare comes as standard but buyers can opt for a full sized one for just another €50 (€35 in the New Mondeo).

At the car's launch in Barcelona last week, my favourite was the petrol car - which fairly sizzled along the hilly routes above the city as well as along the motorways we travelled. It also has a more throaty growl than the diesel which is more of a loud hum. I loved the whole urgency and precision of the drive. Both cars also had impeccable manners when driving through narrow city streets, and through the pretty little villages we encountered.

Ford's Chairman and Managing Director Ciaran McMahon said "Whether for the enthusiast or novice, the Focus ST possess all the great fun-to-drive qualities that customers want, and with the choice of diesel power for the first time, it's in a class of its own, more enjoyable and rewarding to drive.

"The car also benefits from technology and craftsmanship first revealed for the new Ford Focus - the world's best-selling global nameplate. These five-door models offer class-leading driver assistance technologies and connectivity features."

Ford don't expect many take ups for the estate version, which is available by special order only. It comes with the same standard specification as the hatchback.

I can understand the appeal the Focus ST will have on those who like their motors to be a bit on the wild side while also wanting a tame everyday means of transport.

Collectors will also be looking forward to adding to their collections in the not too distant future when the more powerful Focus RS comes along.