VER­DICT The ST wins this bat­tle by virtue of its more mod­ern in­te­rior. It is a bench­mark warm hatch but the WRX un­der­stand­ably would ap­peal to buy­ers seek­ing a more dis­creet ride.

Herald Sun - Motoring - - HEAD TO HEAD -


The Ford stands out with Re­caro buck­ets, bi-xenon head­lamps and sat­nav. A six-speed man­ual is the only trans­mis­sion but buy­ers can in­vest $2000 in a tech pack to add ac­tive city brak­ing, lane keep­ing and de­par­ture as­sist. Ser­vic­ing is $1195 over the first three years and re­quire an­nual/15,000km vis­its. The war­ranty is three years/100,000km and the es­ti­mated re­sale value is 54 per cent.


A more prom­i­nent bon­net bulge and sharper front-end lines mark the ST as some­thing out of the or­di­nary. That’s re­in­forced by the cen­tre-mounted pair of ex­haust tips. The cabin is no­table for the rel­a­tive ab­sence of but­tons and gen­eral clut­ter. Gauges (boost and oil pres­sure) an­gled to­wards the driver on top of the dash re­in­force the sporty im­age but may be too boy-racer for some.


The 2.0-litre turbo (184kW/360Nm) slurps 95 RON fuel min­i­mum and, Ford says, is good for a 100km/h dash in 6.5 sec­onds. Peak torque is there from just 2000rpm, en­dow­ing fe­ro­cious wheel-tug­ging out of cor­ners. The six-speed man­ual is OK when se­lect­ing the right gear but doesn’t shift with the pre­ci­sion of some ri­vals. Claimed thirst is 7.4L/100km.


The Euro­pean-built Fo­cus earns five stars from ANCAP and scores 34.17/37. Six airbags are stan­dard and the ST gets an ac­cept­able pedes­trian pro­tec­tion re­sult. The $2000 tech pack would be a smart ad­di­tion in terms of se­cu­rity and fu­ture re­sale.


Ab­dun­dant torque turn­ing the front wheels en­sures the ST is an en­ter­tain­ing drive. Torque vec­tor­ing helps to haul the car around cor­ners but ex­pect the front end to tug and twitch as you exit the turn and get back on the power. It is a gen­uine hot hatch in ex­tract­ing a smile yet it’s not as fran­tic as the Fo­cus RS. The steer­ing is thread-the-nee­dle pre­cise and the sus­pen­sion is tuned to keep the wheels in con­tact with the road rather bums in seats.



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