Ford Focus ST-2
I once owned a Ford Fiesta XR2 bought second hand from a work colleague in 1991.The support for the front left wheel snapped resulting in the wheel collapsing downwards & I crashed it into a wall at about 20 mph. I remember the dashboard coming towards me in slow-motion as the wheel got pushed into the car when it hit the kerb. Pre air-bags, I was lucky as minutes before I had been on the motorway.The XR2 & larger XR3 & Ford Sierra Cosworth were the fast Ford hot hatches with high performance thrills, everyday usability at accessible prices of the 1980’s & early 1990’s & Ford has a great reputation for making this type of car.
Fast forward almost 25 years & Ford let me loose in their updated Focus hot-hatch the ST . Delivered in a fetching special metallic body colour called ’Tangerine Scream,’ there was no way that I was going to get away with driving incognito. I tested the petrol version, powered by a 247bhp 2.0-litre, four-cylinder EcoBoost engine which a claimed returns 41.5 mpg on the combined cycle with CO2 emissions of 159g/km. It’s quick too, reaching 62 mph from zero in just 6.5 seconds.
Ford have kept things simple with the ST, offering it in three trim levels – ST, ST-2 and ST-3- I was testing the ST-2, with five doors & a six-speed manual gearbox only, with an estate version available as well. AS it was in my day, Fords fun car is incredibly well priced starting from £22,195, with the price for equivalent diesel & petrol models being identical. Therefore, the Focus ST undercuts its main hot hatch rivals by a decent amount of money. And, of course it’s practical too, offering 316 litres of boot space , so it’s large enough for 3 medium sized suitcases to fit in for a family trip.
If you like your car understated then the ST might not be for you. Apart from the bonkers colour, Ford has updated the front end with a wider grille, slimmer headlights, rectangular fog lights & a more sculpted bonnet. Inside, the car is kitted out with a wide range of standard stuff, including front Recaro sports seats, with contrast piping, in my case yellow, carbon fibre trim, extra gauges on the dash, a sports steering wheel, metal pedals, a metal gear lever & several ST badges throughout the cabin. The ST-2 comes with half leather trim, 18” alloys, ST design full body kit, ST rear spoiler & scuff plates, LED daytime running lights, dual electronic climate control, Ford radio/CD with a 4.2” TFT display with DAB, Aux in, USB, Ford SYNC including Bluetooth & voice control & Ford keyless start.
Ford had added number of extras to my teat car including an ST style pack consisting of 19” alloys, rear privacy glass, red brake callipers & illuminated scuff plates £750; the colour £745; a heated steering wheel £95, a rear view camera £165; blind spot info system £525; a driver assistance pack including active city stop, lane departure warning, lane keeping, traffic sign recognition, driver alert & auto high beam £450; Ford key free system £350 & door edge protectors £85. This took the basic price of the ST-2 from £23,995 to £27,660, the latter seeming a steal to me. As a motorway driver, I would have wanted cruise control though, because the ST is hard to keep still at 75 mph.
In-line with the rest of the Focus range, Ford has redesigned the interior with less buttons for a classier look. It retains the 3 dash mounted ancillary gauges, whilst offering a very practical large glovebox, deep door bins & several cupholders.I didn’t like the Recaro seats which are too restrictive & therefore uncomfortable for me as I’m a fidget in car especially on longer journeys. Other than this negative I really liked the interior which is well put together & finished, although it’s not yet up to German standards.
The 2.0-litre, turbocharged, four-cylinder EcoBoost unit is really good fun. Coupled with a lovely smooth six-speed manual gear box, mated to a new front-wheel drive chassis & a torque vectoring system that ensures maximum traction, it makes the Ford Focus ST one of the best handling cars in its class. Even the power steering has weight to it, so it’s fun all the way as I found driving around Cheshire on a Sunday morning.
Thanks to its quiet cabin, the ST is a good motorway cruiser, although the addition of cruise control would take the worry out of 50 mph speed limits in road works. The ride is firm but not expressly so & certainly soft enough to live with day to day. Thanks to standard traction and stability control, a torque vectoring system, strong brakes and suite of airbags throughout the cabin, even if you do get into a bit of trouble, the ST is a safe place to be & was awarded five-stars in Euro NCAP’s crash safety tests.
I was testing the petrol version of the ST, but if I were a Company Car reader looking to have an ST as my business vehicle, then the diesel variant is much more appealing, with 67.3 mpg on the combined & CO2 emissions of 110g/km, making it near identical to the Golf GTD. In fact, to make it easier for company car drivers, perhaps Ford should have badged the diesel ST as an STD ?
What makes the Focus ST so good, is it’s combination of performance & price. Go for the diesel for business & it’s as much fun as the Golf GTD, but & is cheaper & just as sensible as well. Being sensible myself, I would stick to the basic ST-2 spec in a more conservative colour, like black.
Hot Fun in the Summertime 4.5/5.