Ford Focus aims for a high performance

Hugh Maguire: is impressed with the Ford Focus ST

Ford Focus aims for a high performance

The New 2020 model Ford Focus ST is aimed squarely at those who value high performance and a more involving driving experience while not having to sacrifice anything in terms of day to day practicality.

The new ST is developed “under the leadership of Ford Performance” division.

Its a front wheel drive 280 bhp, 2.3 litre petrol hot hatch with selectable drive modes and a slick 6-speed manual gearbox.

There are two models, the ST-3 as tested here and the ST-2 a diesel powered version of the same car.

Prices start at €39,595 for the 2.0 diesel 190 Bhp model.

So has it any street cred?

Distinctive 19” ST dark grey alloys, dual exhaust outlets, red brake callipers and a neat rear spoiler are the only real clues that this is no ordinary Focus. So in some respects its almost too demure. For my money it could differentiate itself a bit better from the rest of the Focus range.

What’s it like inside?

The same can be said of the interior.

The cabin is pretty much that of a standard Focus until you look more closely and notice the Recaro sports seats, the colour coded stitching, the Ford Performance Kick plates and the rather large diameter sports steering wheel.

The new ST is well kitted out including Ford SYNC 3 with an 8 inch colour touchscreen with Apple Car Play and Android Auto, USB connectivity, Bluetooth, Ford’s Head Up Display, Adaptive Front Lighting System, Evasive Steering Assist, power heated folding door mirrors; body colour door handles, keyless start; cruise control including speed limit function; dual-zone auto temperature control; power front and rear windows; global opening / closing; and front and rear LED reading lights.

Other features include Auto Start Stop, Torque Vectoring Control, a limited slip differential, adaptive suspension, selectable drive modes, Comfort, Normal, Sport and Race Track and Active Park Assist.

The driving position is excellent, you sit low in the car giving the driver a more involved feel in the driving experience.

What is under the bonnet?

Powered by a 2.3 litre Ecoboost petrol turbo engine producing some 280 PS the Focus ST-3 is certainly quick.

With drive to the front wheels via a 6-speed manual gearbox it accelerates from 0 to 100km in 5.7 seconds, but its the mid range torque that impresses most.

The turbo features anti-lag technology and the result is that no matter what gear you are in when you floor the throttle response is instant.

In short it delivers on the performance side with the only negative being a small amount of torque steer (steering wheel pulled around in your hands) under hard acceleration.

Its a superb set up though with an addictive (though partially synthetic) growl from the engine under acceleration accompanied by “backfires” when shifting gears in Sport or Racetrack mode.

What is it like to drive?

The adaptive suspension set up is of course firm even in Comfort mode but not unduly so.

However it does feel rather fidgety over say minor bumps when in Sport mode. That said the grip is tenacious whether on wet or dry roads.

The steering is beautifully weighted and the powerful brakes provide reassuring stopping power.

This really is a fun car to drive, its fast, sounds great, and handles very well.

Verdict

The new Focus ST is not as hard edged as the Renault Megane RS and does not offer that teutonic feel of the VW Golf GTi, but its winning blend of performance, practicality, specification and price makes the Ford Focus ST a real winner.

The Focus ST-3 tested costs from €43,253.