Thursday 22 March 2018

Raw power the key for this Focus as Ford overhauls hot ST hatch

The Ford Focus ST
The Ford Focus ST
The Ford Focus ST's interior
Eddie Cunningham

Eddie Cunningham

The thing about the Focus ST, you see, is the raw power.

And the sound that goes with it.

Even in the 2-litre 185bhp diesel - a first in a performance Ford - or the 250bhp 2-litre EcoBoost petrol, the sound is an ever-present reminder of what is on tap under the bonnet.

The revised ST gets here next month and prices start at €39,100 for the petrol and €39,800 for the diesel.

Yes, it is a big chunk of money for the privilege of owning one but there has always been a steady trickle of buyers here for an ST. They reckon there are 500 on the road.

So without getting into too much nitty gritty here's what they have done. They have improved the dynamics and added and upgraded technology.

There are new chassis control technologies such as the Enhanced Transitional Stability system.

They have retuned suspension and steering - all part of keeping up there with major rivals such as the Volkswagen Golf GTi, GTD and SEAT Leon Cupra.

They also made much of the fuel efficiency for such a high-powered performance car.

The diesel (0-100 kmh in 8.1 seconds) manages 4.2 l/100km (67.3 mpg). With emissions of 110g/km (€190 road tax) they claim it has the same fuel efficiency as your everyday 1.6 litre TDCi 95PS Focus.

The petrol (0-100kmh in 6.5 seconds) returns 6.8 l/100km (41.5 mpg) and 159 g/km (€590 road tax).

We gave it a lash over twisty mountain roads and flat sweeping motorways and, of the two, I'd prefer the petrol even with the higher consumption and road tax.

I find this all the time - that diesel and petrol bring out totally different elements and emphases of a car's driving characteristics.

It's a splendid cabin, lots of goodies (driver assistance, and SYNC 2 in-car connectivity system) and we zipped over the roads.

I have to say it is not as out-and-out refined as the Volkswagen GTi nor as engaging as the SEAT Leon Cupra but everyone I spoke to said the same thing: it's a real Ford performance car.

The enhanced body structure keeps it more upright on corners while new springs and shocks (at the rear as well) and stiffer suspension bushes add tautness to the performance.

I would quibble with the Electronic Power Assisted Steering (EPAS). I'd have preferred more feel and feedback. For a car like this you want to get an acute sense of the road.

Technology takes care of a lot on the ST. A good example is the Enhanced Transitional Stability (ETS) system. It can sense an imminent skid/loss of control and uses individual wheel braking to reduce the risk.

Another word about the engines. The 185bhp diesel represents a 23pc power gain on the 150bhp in the main Focus range.

And they developed the 250bhp petrol for the ST by revising several elements.

The 6spd gearbox was slick but I found, as is often the case in climbing twisty roads, that third gear in the diesel got me through most of the drive.

Standard equipment includes: special ST suspension,18ins alloys, heated front Recaro seats, Auto-Start-Stop, ST body (spoiler, front/rear bumper, rocker panels and front grille), ST scuff plates, auto lights/wipers and Thatcham alarm.

Irish Independent

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