The exclusive handful
The Ford Focus ST is part of an exclusive club of motorcars which includes the Golf VR6, BMW 325iS, Sentra STi, Kadett Superboss and Civic VTEC. Performance machines which have all become collectable and share one compulsory characteristic: there isn’t a single unmodified specimen left.
I base this assumption purely on my powers of observation around the greater Cape Peninsula. Should I be wrong, please contact me immediately via the website. Whereas I have no problem with customised cars, I’m one of many people who would pay good money for a standard VR6; and keep it that way.
The new Ford Focus ST may be tinkered with, if only a few owners later, but these petrol-heads will have their hands full as the new ST is quite a, umm, handful. Assaulting its helpless front wheels with 250hp or 360Nm, the new motor even has a wonderfully deep growl.
Drive it sensibly and there’s a faint roar to proceedings, not too dissimilar from the old five-pot thump of its predecessor. Plant your right foot and the ST howls like a Citi Golf with a leaky air box while the front wheels desperately try to pull you in a forward direction.
They usually fail.
String the hot Focus through your favourite twisting tarmac and with a bit of restraint the choppy ride transforms into excellent handling with little body roll. Push a bit further and mild under-steer sets in. Cane its backside and, especially with deactivated ESP, the front end becomes completely disobedient.
It did just that on our 0-100km/h run where the traction control meddled our results to high sevens, while Sport mode (diluted ESP) saw us achieve 6.8 seconds (0.3 slower than claimed) with considerable wheel-spin. An ST also burns rubber and squirms across lanes while shifting to second or third gear at full power.
The stability control and sport suspension with torque vectoring do their best, bless them, but the Focus ST borders on overpowered and demands a little too much from its great chassis when full power is applied. Although slightly softer sprung, most attributes reminded us of the lunatic Renault Megane RS Trophy.
Its steering is very precise with a short ratio while the turning radius is rubbish. The brakes are excellent, its clutch is light and the six-speed gearbox is equally pleasing, ticking most boxes for a daily-use hot hatch. Other criteria include good space for passengers and a decent boot with foldable rear seats (316L to 1,101L).
…fuel consumption of 7.2L/100km… which is complete nonsense.
The oven-fresh 2-litre 4-cylinder turbo-petrol engine claims average CO2 output of just 169g/km and average fuel consumption of 7.2L/100km… which is complete nonsense. Our average from the 62L tank was beyond ten and we didn’t regret a single minute of it.
As for its looks, this is a good evolution from the accomplished previous design and is available in two five-door spec levels – N$309,530 for ST1 or N$353,700 for ST3. A vast number of fins and spoilers join big wheels and a tetra-decahedron exhaust tip to set this version apart from its lesser siblings.
Interior fit and quality is definitely up a few notches although the new Ford infotainment / SYNC system will take some getting used to – as will the adjustable multi-function steering wheel with its seven hundred buttons.
The base-model ST shuns luxuries like leather or climate control.
Upholstered in cloth with obligatory ST and Recaro badges, the front seats are of the VERY snug variety which had some passengers squirming around in their chair with discomfort. Adjustment is manual but all windows and mirrors are powered, as is the keyless ignition.
Other standard features include an ECO mode (hahaha!), electric power steering, remote central locking, chrome pedals, sunglass holder, mood lighting, two 12V sockets, six speakers, radio/CD with USB and Aux inputs, Bluetooth, voice control, cruise control, speed limiter, headlamp adjuster and many more.
Go for the more posh version to get leather, climate control, keyless entry, power seats, Recaros in the back, extended trip computer, upgraded speakers and a TFT screen, auto wipers, auto folding mirrors, auto Xenon lights, a few LED’s and some extra carpets.
Safety equipment in both versions includes ABS with brake assist and emergency force distribution, emergency brake lights, ESP with Sport mode, hill hold, six airbags, alarm and immobiliser. All Focus ST’s are sold with a 4-year/120,000km warranty, 3-year roadside assistance and 5-year/90,000km service plan.
On paper, the new Focus ST betters most of its ancestor’s specs and whereas I can’t draw a comparison to the outgoing model because I never drove one, I believe this to be a great contender in the current breed of hot hatches.
You may even choose to modify it but I would happily recommend it in standard form.
0-100m: 6.0s / 95.8km/h
0-200m: 9.2s / 120.5km/h
0-300m: 11.9s / 140.6km/h
0-400m: 14.3s / 149.5km/h
1/4mile: 14.4s @ 92.9mph (149.6km/h)
Climate Sunny, slight breeze
Road Dry tarmac, level
Occupants Driver, no passengers
Fuel level 1/4