23 Jan: Ford Focus ST-2

Picture the scene.
Young man walks into Ford showroom  and says: “I want to buy a Ford Focus ST.”
“Certainly sir,” comes the response, “What colour?”
Young man: “I’d like a racing blue one.”
“No problem Sir.”
Young man: “Does the 23 grand price tag include the Recaros?”
“Yes, sir, it most certainly does.”
Young man: “Now, what about fuel consumption?”
… short silent pause …
Shocked and surprised salesman and his pals fall about with laughter!

Now, don’t get me wrong. The surprising thing about this 247 bhp bum sizzler is that it will actually return 30 mpg if driven about the countryside sensibly. In fact, Ford claim 39 mpg on the Combined Euro-test cycle. But seriously, neither me, or anyone reading this webmag, is ever likely to get anywhere near that 39 – and only those of us who wish to hang on to our Driving Licences are ever likely to get anywhere near the 30!

That’s because this latest performance Ford is just so addictably and lecherously quick. It’s a joy to drive. From the superb driving position and Recaros to that luscious thick, leather rimmed steering wheel, this is a motor for savouring. Ford have put a lot of thought into this car, evidenced by the ideally sized 38 mm diameter steering wheel and the sensible Spacesaver spare wheel – as opposed to the ‘skoosh and blow’ carry-on.

Even more thought has been put into the drivetrain. The 2 litre, four cylinder frenzy under the bonnet is stoked by a six speed gearbox, but this is not a nick-nick, short throw job, it requires thought before application. That’s because the big sweetie under the bonnet is just the smoothest and most responsive thing you’ll find this side of a Nardini knickerbocker glory.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not rocket-ship quick. It takes over 6 seconds to hit 60 from rest, but what’s impressive is the sheer relentless linear surge from the moment you press the throttle, and through every gearshift after it, all the way to the red line at 6500 rpm. Only you don’t need to go there. Change up at 6000 and it still comes in at 4, and still pulling like a rodeo bullock with a tick on its tail.

And therein lies the trouble. The sheer surge is addictive with the consequential, detrimental effect on fuel consumption.

It’s also very civilised which makes it very deceptive. A wary eye (or two) has to be kept on the speedo as much as the rev counter. Speeds above legal limits are achieved very undramatically.

That’s not just down to the smoothness of the transmission but also to the near silence from the engine.

Here I blame those worthies who stalk the countryside with their ear trumpets and decibel meters and complain about excessive noise. These ‘noise police’ have managed to strangle some of the most sounds in automation with their decibel nit-picking cairry-oan.

The 2 litre turbo engine produces an almost inaudible growl, even when pulling hard. It sounds like a Wookie having a good time – but in the house next door. Over the wall, and through a dose of cavity wall insulation. Muffled, well muffled. It does indeed sound like a hot car, but one that is very far away.

In other words, to hear those innards working at all, you have to be going at a fair old lick, hence the unwanted interest from the nation’s mobile battenburgs.

Performance aside, it’s a car that can be used everyday. There is a surprising amount of give in the suspension and although the 235/40 x 18 Goodyear Eagle F1s let you know whether you’re on cobbles or tarmac, ride comfort is not of the grimace and curse variety.

Being critical for a moment, there is a wee bit of torque steer, despite Ford’s Enhanced Torque Vectoring Control (eTVC), but you get the feeling with this well sorted car that it is deliberate. The feedback is reassuring rather than discomforting. For sure an eedjit with big feet and the wrong attitude can get the car to misbehave, but if you tackle the corners with a bit of common sense while carrying  a fair bit of speed, you can apply the power without drama on the corner exit. And you can feel exactly what the wheels are doing through the leather. Lovely.

There are in fact six variations on the Focus ST theme if you count body styles (hatchback and estate) and trim levels. The entry level car (ST-1) with the same engine and gearbox, but less kit starts from £21,995, going up to the ST-3 with full leather, rear parking sensors and door mirrors in addition to the ST-2’s air-con, Sony audio and heated ‘Quickclear’ windscreen.

I had the ST-2 with some additional options which included that gorgeous deep blue ‘Spirit Blue’ paint at £525 extra, door edge protection system at £50, power/tilt sunroof at £575 and the Sony DAB SatNav system with extras at £750, bringing the total price up to £25,395.

And just to go back to the fuel consumption thing again. A car with this capability shouldn’t be returning over 30 mpg, but if you can resist the urge to exploit the potential, then everyday use will return 33 mpg. I couldn’t resist the urge, hence the average 30.5 during the test – but it could have been a whole lot worse!

But really, for sheer entertainment value, the 22 grand job offers an awful lot of performance for not a lot of money.

Conclusion? Loved it. Nuff said.

  • Review Date: January 23, 2013
  • Price
  • Engine
  • Performance
  • Economy
  • CO2 emissions