ST a sleek, com­fort­able Ford drive

Con­tin­u­ing a tradition of sport­ing front-drive Fords, the Fo­cus ST uses a Fal­con engine to get its thrust. DAVE MOORE ex­plains.

Kapi-Mana News - - MOTORING -

The ini­tials GT, XR, RS and ST have suf­fixed the names of all man­ner of fast small and mid­sized fam­ily Fords over the past 50 years and they’ve all had one thing in com­mon: fun.

While fur­ther hopped-up mod­els be­came RSs, the GT badge sol­diered on for the merely ‘‘warme­dover’’ mod­els. With the ad­vent of front-drive Fi­es­tas and Es­corts in Europe the XR badge came into be­ing.

As the Es­cort be­came re­placed by the first Fo­cus, the ini­tials ST re­placed XR with the Fi­esta and Mon­deo also in­clud­ing ST ver­sions. Each Fi­esta and Fo­cus model also gained an even faster very lim­ited edition ul­tra high per­for­mance RS ver­sion, mean­ing the STs are seen as the more civilised face of Ford per­for­mance.

So the third gen­er­a­tion Fo­cus ST driven here is seen as es­sen­tially a sim­mer­ingly warm hatch rather than a boil­ing-hot one.

At the heart of the new ST is an engine that is 20 per cent smaller than the pre­ced­ing model’s Volvoderived 2.5-litre trans­verse five.

The lat­est Fo­cus ST may have given up a cylin­der and lost some ca­pac­ity, but the engine pro­duces more than 10 per cent more power and torque, at 184kW and 360Nm, than the pre­vi­ous five-pot while manag­ing to re­duce fuel con­sump­tion and emis­sions by more than 20 per cent.

The car uses a pleas­ingly slick six- speed man­ual unit only, though there has been dis­cus­sion about a dou­ble-clutch two-pedal ‘‘Pow­erShift’’ trans­mis­sion.

The power unit is of course a ver­sion of Ford’s ubiq­ui­tous EcoBoost 2.0-litre four.

It’s ubiq­ui­tous be­cause it’s doubt­ful that there’s a four­cylin­der engine that has more ap­pli­ca­tions.

As well as the Fo­cus, Mon­deo and var­i­ous SUV and peo­ple­mover de­riv­a­tives of those mod­els in Europe, the front-drive EcoBoost 2.0-litre is em­ployed in the Ex­plorer, Fu­sion and Edge as well as var­i­ous Lin­coln and Mer­cury mod­els, while Volvo, Land Rover and Jaguar also use it and Ford’s Aus­tralian Fal­con has a northsouth rear-drive ver­sion which will even be found un­der the bon­net of the next Mus­tang.

An ad­di­tional ben­e­fit of the EcoBoost unit is that it is con­sid­er­ably lighter than the old five­cylin­der unit which means it is not the lead-tipped ar­row the pre­vi­ous ST could be in some con­di­tions

To make an ST out of a stock Fo­cus, the car’s in­de­pen­dent front MacPherson strut and rear con­trol-blade sus­pen­sion is given new springs and dampers, stiffer anti-roll bars are fit­ted front and rear and there’s a 10 mil­lime­tre re­duc­tion in the ride height. Ford also fits the ST with an en­hanced ver­sion of the Fo­cus’s Torque Vec­tor­ing Con­trol, de­signed to quell in­her­ent front-wheel-drive torques­teer.

How­ever, the big­gest dif­fer­ence when driv­ing the car comes from the steer­ing, which has a new vari­able ra­tio rack – with more teeth closer to the steer­ing cen­tre point – and fresh cal­i­bra­tion of its elec­tronic as­sis­tance.

While Ford fa­nat­ics will read­ily spot the ST among a bevy of other Fo­cuses, un­less you opt for the ‘‘Tan­ger­ine Scream’’ paint of the test car, it doesn’t stand out that much from the stan­dard model which is a pretty good looker as it is and shod with sim­i­lar di­am­e­ter wheels in Ti­ta­nium mod­els.

But to give it some visual cut­through, the car has a roof spoiler, a black grille with an ST badge in its left side. There’s an­other ST badge on the right rear of the car, cen­tre- mounted twin ex­hausts and black straked vents at each cor­ner of the car. The in­te­rior is much the same as any other topech­e­lon Fo­cus. Mine had Ford’s easy to use new Sync set-up which en­gages eas­ily with an iPhone – and so should do the same with most other hand­held elec­tronic ac­cou­trements.

So the ST is loaded with gear, is as cosy as a den to slip into, and from be­hind the wheel, the feel and the view tends to ex­em­plify what we could call the ac­cepted zenith of cur­rent mass-pro­duced per­for­mance hatch­backs. Though hot-hatch ju­ries might vote for the more pow­er­ful hot Me­ganes or hot Golfs on pa­per, this warmed but far from over­heated Fo­cus tends to close its case when you start to drive it day to day.

Per­for­mance Ford: Hero colour for the model is pretty hard to miss. Large trape­zoidal grille is an ST sig­na­ture.

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