Tangerine scream: Ford Focus ST
The original Ford Focus, and specifically the sporty ST170 launched in 2002, set a certain performance standard. RISKSA recently had the opportunity to drive the current Focus ST…
T angerine Scream. The colour Ford released specifically for the third generation ST, much like they did with the Electric Orange for the second generation, is not just loud, it is a roaring cacophony. We were sceptical of the eyesearing brightness, and even more so when we parked it outside the office on a grey Cape Town morning. In this incarnation, Ford has opted for their Eco-Boost technology. They have downsized the engine from 2.5 litres to 2.0 litres, but rest assured, the turbocharger remains. Together, the powerplant is more dynamic than ever, producing 184kW and 360Nm of torque, making the ST top in the segment – the current 2.0 litre Golf GTI produces only 163kW. That is a lot of torque, another feature across all recent Fords, and it is torque that pushes you back into your seat, and it is torque that you want. With the downgrade of displacement, the Eco-Boost engine also significantly decreases fuel consumption and harmful emissions by up to 20 per cent. Ford says that the numbers are a 10 per cent increase in performance over the previous
Luka Vracar model. They claim a 0-100 km/h time of 6.5 seconds and a top speed of the usual 250 km/h, which we have no doubt the yellow wonder can do. While it may be the most powerful ST to date, the secret is how the car performs on the roads, specifically the bendy bits. The ST needs a loud colour, because it is a loud car. It roars to life in seconds, and you hear that rowdy engine note fill the cabin through some clever sound induction by Ford, who have installed a sound symposer which feeds the noise from the engine bay into the cabin. Even though it is a cylinder down on its predecessor and the note is not as throaty, the ST must still be one of the best sounding hatchbacks on the market. Acceleration is surprising, and it feels much faster than its 0-100 km/h time indicates. Soon you realise how smooth the car is, switching between gears effortlessly with what seems to be endless torque from low down on the rev range. But the mid range is where the car shines as bright as its paintjob. Between 3000 and 5000 RPM the power pushes you back into the seats, before topping out at 5500. But more power is just a shift away. When you hit the turns, the ST’s allindependent suspension provides absolute confidence. You never feel like the front might go off; Ford’s new electronic Sport Steering System is quick and responsive and you would not lament the absence of the fifth cylinder as the wheel twitches in your hands under acceleration. Put your foot down hard on the throttle, and you can expect torque- steer in such a powerful front-wheel drive car, but it certainly put a smile on our face. Ford’s electronic torquevectoring system might not be as effective in controlling the torque- steer as a traditional slip- differential would, but you get used to it quickly. The power goes to the road well, and the ESP only kicks in if you really want it to. As you would expect in a hatchback, hot or not, when you slow down it is comfortable. Perhaps then, only the engine note reminds you that you are in a sporty Ford. We found this model had a lot more balance between sportiness and comfort than the previous ST.