One Fun Package, get behind the wheel of the Ford Focus ST

Price: Ford Focus ST, $59,990
Engine: Four-cylinder, front-wheel-drive, 2261cc, 206kW, 420Nm
Transmission: Seven-speed Automatic
Fuel and economy: 8.6l/100km
Dimensions: Length, 4388mm; width, 1979mm; height, 1492mm

Overview

I don’t like being referred to as old.

Sure, as a pensioner, I’m aged in the senior demographic but I’d like to think I’m still relatively youthful, and when I’m presented with an exciting sports car to evaluate, my persona changes to someone much younger.

Just like when I was presented with the keys to Ford’s Focus ST, a traditional hot hatchback charger that is an absolute screamer when allowed to breathe freely. I felt well in control of the beast, and such is its all-round adaptability it also doubles as a useful four-door, five-seater for when your grandkids need transporting, and I also think they would feel quite proud when seated in the stroppy sports car.

At $59,900, the Focus ST sits competitively with other hot hatchback models yet it carries all of the practicality the Focus has as a series, it is easy to drive and doesn’t present any special challenges.

The ST gets a 2.3-litre turbocharged, four-cylinder engine which gets about its job with strong engine sound and character. I’m not saying it is noisy, it’s not; the sound is well isolated but it is there to be heard, the engine is angry under load and it is a sound that encourages throttle use, it is pleasant to listen to.

Ford claims healthy outputs of 206kW and 420Nm, providing the impetus for a 6.4sec standstill to 100km/h time.

As mentioned, you don’t need to drive the ST in performance mode all of the time, it is happy to dawdle traffic and during my weekday commute, I was comfortable in it and felt right at ease, although you do get the impression it is keen to get some movement going.

Power is directed through a paddle-shift seven-speed automatic transmission to the front wheels. Shifts are smooth and the ratios are also structured to meet the demands of fuel-conscious buyers.

Ford claims an 8.6l/100km combined cycle fuel usage average for the ST. The trip computer was showing around 10l/100km when I took the car back to the dealership. It will also return a 5.4l/100km instantaneous reading at 100km/h (engine speed 1500rpm), which means you can have some fun without scoffing vast amounts of fuel.

I took the test car on an inland loop, they are perfect roads for a performance car. English Fords have generally been regarded as having supple chassis balance and the ST doesn’t disappoint, it simply dances through the suspension. It also rockets between corners with a powerful surge and swift retardation, thanks to a performance brake package.

Grippy Michelin Sport tyres (235/35 x 19in) turn in precisely with little steering effort but solid steering feedback.  Gravitational changes don’t load the tyres, nor does it affect the way the suspension operates in a corner; if uneven surfaces are encountered there is composure and certainty within the steering process.

The ST stands out with its bold wheels, body kit and spoiler, while on the inside Recaro seats not only support the driver around the mid-riff, but they are visual. The test car was painted bright red, described by Ford as fantastic red, red ST logos embossed on the front seats compliment the exterior colour.

The Focus ST is a fun package, yet has practicality on its side. It comes extensively equipped with all of the items you’d expect today for comfort and convenience, and safety.

If you are up with the play technology-wise, the Focus as a series also has all of the functionality to keep you happy. The entire range has just had a refresh, there’s more kit for connectivity and there is an increased level of electronic safety spec.

These features not only provide extra value, convenience and surety, but they contribute to the special feeling you get every time you are in the car, you will be smiling every time you drive it and it will certainly make you feels years younger.

Check out the full range of Ford vehicles available at Drivesouth.co.nz - here


- Ross Kiddie

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