Starring role for Focus ST
ENGINEERS from both sides of the Atlantic have combined to deliver a Ford Focus ST, the company's first global performance car. The Ford RS team in Europe and the Special Vehicles Team in the US joined forces to produce a vehicle that revels in hard driving on twisty roads but which is also 20 per cent more efficient than the previous offering with a bigger 2.5 litre unit.
The new power plant is a lightweight alloy 2-litre Eco Boost engine which has 10 per cent more power but still manages 7.2L/100km (39 mpg), according to Ford, which will be a trump card in the company's bid to woo more than just the sports car fanatics to get behind the wheel. This is a point that is taken up by Eddie Murphy, Ford chairman and managing director, who says the ST is designed as a car with road-gripping dynamics but is also ideal for everyday driving because of the high levels of interior refinement.
For most owners who will be asked to part with €37,170 when the car goes on sale in September, the performance element will come a strong first. The engine will bring you to 100kms in 6.5 seconds and the top speed can be as high as 248km/h (154 mph). C02 emissions run at 169g/km which brings it into Band D road tax but for a car with the ST's performance potential this will not be an issue. More likely to impress is the 340Nm or torque output, outperforming a standard Golf GTi in this department and in the bhp stakes.
The launch in Nice covered twisty mountain roads and here the ST was at its best with a no-nonsense cornering capability and turbo-charged acceleration.There was plenty of power on tap when the accelerator was nudged and stopping power was equally impressive. The ESC has three modes, depending on the amount of thrills the driver wants. All the hot-hatch thrills are there but Ford has successfully mixed in a good level of passenger comfort in its new five-door model. The price must be considered reasonable and is lower than some of the competitors.
Standard equipment includes seven airbags, xenon headlights, parking sensors, Bluetooth, keyless start, Recaro seats and 18" alloy wheels. Full Irish specification will be decided nearer the launch date when it goes on sale in 40 countries.
The exterior sports a large black web grille leading to the familiar Focus profile while the rear has a large roof-line spoiler. Overall, the look is more appealing than aggressive. But Ford has a surprise that will please the boy racers -- a 'sound symposer' to give the perfect gutsy growl that will turn heads.
The arrival of the ST coincides with the launch of the new action film version of the Seventies police series The Sweeney in which the ST replaces the Granada as the car of choice for Ray Winstone and Ben Drew who play Regan and Carter.