Steers take great pride in their sizzle. Ford can also take great pride in their sizzle, in the form of the new Focus ST1.
It’s sister is the ST3 which has leather seats, Xenon lights and a few other extras.
It is a completely new car. A 2.0 litre turbo petrol motor shoots you out of the starting blocks. Brilliant Recaro seats hug you. No embrace you. Excellent brakes give you a feeling of confidence. And yet it can be as docile as a family car.
I found the Focus both easy and fun to drive. The clutch is just right, the gears are silky smooth and the brakes among the best I have ever found in a car.
The exhaust note is as sweet as any note from a Stradivarius. It’s glorious. Grown men look and start grinning. Young men stop and stare, jaws dropping.
The ST1 offers keyless start, a deflation detection system, cruise control and power 1-shot up/down driver front and rear windows, which I do not like.
The ST has a 184kW 2.0-litre turbocharged EcoBoost engine, letting it race from 0-100 km/h in 6.5 seconds and has a top speed of 248 km/h. I can tell you in gear acceleration, even in sixth is superb. The accompanying growl is a bonus.
The EcoBoost engine also means Focus ST is expected to return 7.2 ℓ/100 km and deliver CO2 emissions of 169 g/km; a 20% improvement over the previous Focus ST. I got just under 8ℓ/100 km. But then I did tend to put foot every now and then. I couldn’t help it.
Recaro make the seats. Nuff said.
What’s there not to like? I found the controls within easy reach and intuitive to use. The ergonomics of the Focus is exemplary. The lowered seats have length adjustment, and cushion tilt as well as the normal adjustments.
The boot is quite large and is a practical shape.
The darker headlining and trim on the pillars looks great. The interior really works for me. The overall appearance is both purposeful and appealing.
The interior lighting setup is a step up. See it to appreciate it.
The audio system is very good. USB and din input points in the box between the seats. An extra 12v power point for the back is provided.
The rear leg room is good. There are ample nooks and crannies to put stuff into.
People raved about the nose of this new Focus. The general consensus is that it is a good looking car.
The new Focus ST is available in five-door hatchback format. Tangerine Scream, the new signature colour, matches the Focus ST’s character. Spirit Blue, Race Red, Panther Black, Frozen White and Moondust Silver are also available.
I could not fault the lines of the Focus. It grows on you.
The Focus ST is a brilliant car to drive on the road. It goes where you point it. It stops when you want it to. The acceleration out of any gear is awesome. The ST is the kind of car you could drive all day and still be smiling at the end.
The new Sport Steering System variable ratio steering rack reduces steering sensitivity when driving in a straight line and increases sensitivity when cornering.
The Electronic Power Assisted Steering (EPAS) system has been specially calibrated for the new Focus ST and detects and counters torque steer using a more aggressively pitched version of Ford’s Torque Steer Compensation (TSC). The Electronic Stability Programme (ESP) offers three distinct modes – drivers can turn ESP on for a tuned version of the system found throughout the Focus range; a reduced or wide-slip mode disables traction control and activates ESP only when absolutely necessary; and finally, ESP can be switched off altogether.
The engine also emits a distinctive soundtrack, engineered to be appreciated regardless whether heard from inside or outside the car. For those in the car, a newly-enhanced sound symposer relays the engine sound directly from the intake into the cabin. Very cool.
The exhaust system, with unique twin hexagonal centre exhaust tailpipe, has also been tuned to deliver the right sound at the right time, refined at lower RPMs and a purposeful growl as the revs rise.
The lights are very good. Indicators have a pleasant solid sound. Nice touch.
Visibilty all round is good. The car even has a blind spot indicator in the mirrors.
The clutch and gearbox are very smooth. Its effortless to change gears, even in a hurry. The brakes give you a feeling of confidence.
The ST comes with cloth seats as standard, which work for me, but Ford does not give one the opportunity to upgrade to leather. You have to get the ST3 if you want leather seats.
I could not get the hang of the electrical window controls. I battled to open them just a small way. Seemed to want open or close all the way.
The air vents towards the centre of the console are positioned so that they blow cold air onto the driver’s hands. It is a minor gripe but a bit irritating.
Golf 6 GTi – R378 500 – 173kW, 300Nm.
Opel Sport GTC – R311 600 – 132kW, 230Nm
Subaru WRX – R429 000 – 195kW, 343Nm
BMW 120d – R330 500 – 135kW, 380Nm
Mazda MPS – R343 140 – 190kW , 380Nm
Renault Megane RS R359 900 – 195kW , 360Nm
Audi A3 2.0 FSI – R345 000 – 147kW, 280Nm
It’s a hot, hot hatch. It sizzles.
The high-spec, ST3 model adds auto folding mirrors, keyless entry, DEATC, rain sensitive wipers and Bi-Xenon HID headlamps including LED daytime running lights, auto-dimming rear view mirror and automatic wipers. Leather Recaro seats with 8-way adjustability and pull-out cushion, plus the newly developed Recaro rear bench.
At the price the Focus ST simply has no competition. It simply blows the benchmark GTi which costs almost R60k more out of the water.
I recommend the ST1. Probably the best sporty car value in SA at the moment.
Price R317 400 as tested (ST1). 184kW and 360Nm
The ST3 costs R362 500.
A normal Focus costs from R218 000 to R289 400.
4yr / 120 000km warranty and 5 yr / 90 000km service plan. Added piece of mind comes in the way of a 3yr /unlimited km roadside assistance plan while service intervals are staggered at 20 000km intervals.