Think of a hot-hatch and the first thing that usually comes to mind is the Volkswagen Golf GTi, or for those a little more in-tune with cars, perhaps the Renault Sport Megane RS. But Ford is back on the scene with the Focus ST and after a weekend with the car, we discovered a few reasons why you would buy one over the usual suspect… and a few reasons why you wouldn’t.
1) Mean performance: The Ford Focus ST is one helluva powerful car. More so than the Golf GTi. Through the front wheels you’re getting 188kW. It’s truly a monster car for its size (but a bit shy of what the older Focus RS was delivering). You really feel the power thanks to the torque steer that Ford left in. Hit the throttle and you will be physically pushed back into your seat as the car hits 100kph in around 6.5 seconds from the 2.0 litre turbocharged engine. Do it a few times and you’ll likely become quite nauseous. When you hit the throttle in this car you have to mean it.
2) Practicality: It’s a hot hatch with a serious performance kick but it’s still mighty practical. While the chunky Recaro sports seats lay claim to a vast amount of real estate, and the cluttered dashboard can make you feel a bit cramped at times, but there is still plenty of space in the car, particularly in the boot. We managed to get a chest of draws in there (nope, still don’t know why we did that). It was a small chest, to be fair. Two adults will fit in the back although the harsh ride of a sportscar won’t make it a particularly comfortable trip.
3) Style: Ford has finally caught up with the European crowd in terms of looks. The basic Focus is a slick piece of design and the ST continues with the trend adding the Aston Martin style mean front grille to the car’s face. The rear is something to behold as well with an almost comically large rear spoiler and single exhaust positioned in the middle. The car sits 10mm lower than the XR5 Turbo it replaces and when you add this to the beefy body work it’s quite a site. Just maybe not in that bee yellow Ford uses for the promotional material.
4) Technology: It’s pretty much got everything a modern car should without it having to be an option. Which is not surprising being that the ST is the current top of the line Focus. You get sat nav, voice control, Bluetooth phone and audio streaming, dual-zone climate control, rain-sensing wipers, engine start button, Sony audio with nine thumping speakers and rear view camera. But as we mentioned before, that is one cramped dashboard. It looks more like the cockpit of a Boeing 747 – you feel like if you press the wrong button one of the seats will eject.
5) Individuality: How many Focus STs do you see on the road? Now how many Golf GTis do you see on the road? OK, so it’s not a great reason, but it’s still a reason. If you’re after pure performance you will be every bit as pleased with a Focus ST, if not more so, that a Golf GTi. But that may count against you when it comes to resale value, as the GTi has a notoriously high return rate which is great for new car buyers. But then again, you’ll be paying less for a Focus ST in the first place when you consider it starts at $38,290 plus on roads.
Well, there are, and some we mentioned above. Unknown resale value, torque steer that – while built-in on purpose – can be quite annoying, acceleration that is on the verge of uncomfortable. Also, you may need a doctorate to operate the dashboard controls. But that’s about all we could come up with. It’s a pretty solid package that will take on any hot hatch out there.
Web: Ford Australia
Damian Francis has previously edited Australian T3 and F1 Racing magazine and wrote for GQ Australia and Men’s Health. Unlike Nick and Trev, he has no kids, no mortgage and no wife, but lives happily on Sydney’s North Shore with his girlfriend.