11 Sep: Ford Focus ST

… Ford Focus ST 2.3 EcoBoost …

The Ford Focus ST 5 Door is simply a grown up Fiesta ST for adults. It’s got more power and more weight but it still goes and it still handles. It may lack the nimble agility of the 200hp Fiesta but it feels better planted in the corners.

The last time I had the Fiesta ST was the weekend of the Argyll Rally, this time I drove the Focus to a friend’s 70th birthday bash in the far north east and what a blast – 276 bhp over the Cairn O’Mount – better than Viagra. Yes I know the brand new Aberdeen ‘peripherique’ would have been more relaxing but that’s not what the Focus is about. This is a car to relish and many of the roads in some of the more remote parts of the country offer up the chance to enjoy our 60 mph speed limited roads in safety.

Such a road is the Cairn O’Mount from Fettercairn to Banchory where long stretches are wide open and where oncoming traffic can be spotted way ahead. Mind you, care still needs to be exercised, especially with regard to those white-line overlappers riding motorcycles. Not all bikers are nutters but drivers always have to be wary.

On roads like this the Focus ST excels. Accelerate hard up to a corner, brake, turn-in, bite, and then the electronic LSD helps deliver a mighty turbocharged 276 bhp punch out of the corner. Quick and mighty impressive. One of the reasons for the quick response is the use of an anti-lag turbo which prompts the idea that M-Sport might have had a hand in the car’s development. When the driver lifts off the accelerator, the anti-lag system keeps the throttle open, maintaining compressor wheel speed and enabling boost pressure to build faster when needed.

However on such roads, the suspension ‘Sport’ setting might be a bit too fierce for some with the undulating surfaces and winter weather created subsidences exaggerating the bumps, dips and pot-holes making the ride quite firm. Best leave it in Standard mode and keep Sport for the main roads.
This is also where you really felt the weight of the beast. It is fully 400 kgs heavier than the Fiesta ST, but the thing is, the Focus is still shockingly agile and nimble and willing to be flung from corner to corner with tenacious levels of grip through the 19 inch, 235/35 Michelins.

Gawd, I loved this car!

A new steering rack has also sharpened up the feel and the handling while new ‘continuously controlled’ dampers have further improved the ride whether at high speed or low, or just out for a Sunday afternoon cruise.

There was one downside though. On the camera infested A90 heading north to Fettercairn, fuel consumption was a mere 34 mpg but once it was let loose on the open moorland and mountain roads it developed a huge thirst. Accurate measurement was not available, but the fuel gauge needle did a passable impression of a downhill skier.

Perhaps there was another (very) minor disappointment. The 4 cylinder, 2.3 litre motor doesn’t sound fruity enough, even with Ford’s electronic ‘engine note enhancement’ through the media speakers. It just lacks the aural excitement that one would expect from a machine with such zest for life. I don’t think we can blame the Ford engineers too much, they have to comply with the Noise Police these days, just another nail in the coffin of automotive enjoyment.

Inside the car, there is room for five in considerable comfort considering the car’s performance potential. Another thing worthy of note, the front seats are wider than those in the Fiesta. In other words, the average adult’s bum actually fits between the side bolsters! No squeezed cheeks this time, but on the other hand, it is still very firm. After the trip north I was more than ready for a wee walk to stretch my legs and a discrete bum massage when no-one was looking.

This is no stripped out racer. It is well equipped with all the necessary electronic functions and more. For many folk it’s a sensible everyday motoring commuter and only shows it’s wild side at weekends or when the driver needs a little tickle of boredom lifting excitement.

Did I say I loved this car? That’s not quite accurate either – I really, really loved it.

Review Date: September 11, 2019
Price: £36,490 (as tested)
Engine: 2261cc, 4 cylinder turbo petrol with 276 bhp
Performance: 0-62 mph in 5.8 secs, flat out at 155 mph
Economy: 36.7 mpg (combined)
CO2 emissions: 179 k/gm

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