FORD FOCUS ST
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.
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.