For fast par­ents

Ford has a ma­ture cure for when old age starts to bite

The Witness - Wheels - - MOTORING - AL­WYN VILJOEN and BRIAN BAS­SETT

IF you thought the lives of mo­tor­ing hacks are a con­stant swirl of pink caviar in cham­pagne glasses at mo­tor­ing launches in trendy cities, well, spare a thought for your hard-work­ing team of ve­hic­u­lar scribes in the slightly more bu­colic set­ting of Mar­itzburg.

There we were, striv­ing to keep up the mo­tor­ing re­port­ing stan­dards set by then Natal Wit­ness since 1904, and both of us show­ing our com­bined 120 years of age as we hob­bled painfully into po­si­tions at the his­toric Roy Hes­keth race track, lens aimed and pen­cil poised for the ver­dict of our own “Stig”, in the form of Des­mond Goven­den, aka Dizzy of DY Tun­ing, who was blitz­ing Bar­lowrod sales­per­son Shan­dré du Plessis around the track.

The real thrill in the ST is the four­cylin­der 184 kW/360 Nm en­gine, which has to be held back in town, as the car roars up to 80 km/h in first gear.

One of the first things we no­ticed was how the howl of the en­gine did not raise the ire of the res­i­dents around Hes­keth. For while the ex­haust is tuned to roar in­side the cabin, it is very quiet out­side. Quiet or not, the en­gine does have the grunt, as Dizzy said af­ter his first two rounds that saw him clock 180 km/h down the straight.

“But I was go­ing slow be­cause of the wet track,” he ad­mit­ted.

Dizzy pointed out the lay­out of the cock­pit is a mas­ter­class in er­gonomic de­sign. Even the hand­brake is where you need it for a quick 180° turn, as he promptly demon­strated, in which case the bucket seats also hug your hips against the pull of the G-forces.

Nor­mally, bucket seats are tor­ture for our less-than-svelte shapes, but we both agreed that the seats in the Fo­cus are comfy for the more ma­ture driver. And ma­ture he — or she — has to be, for while the spa­cious Ford ST is mar­keted over­seas at the young, the lo­cal price of R420 000 means only 30some­thing par­ents can af­ford it.

The price gets them a 316-litre boot, that grunt, ex­cel­lent han­dling and — bonus — a lot of friends, as is tes­ti­fied by the ST own­ers’ clubs in Mar­itzburg and Dur­ban who or­gan­ise reg­u­lar fam­ily out­ings to ex­er­cise their cars, as well as do work for charity in the process.

The car we drove was fin­ished in Race Red with 17-inch al­loys. Out­side, the car looks racy with ev­ery­thing from head­lights to roof swept back. In­side, the Re­caro leather seats give great shoul­der and torso sup­port and are de­signed for high per­for­mance driv­ing.

The Sync 2,8-inch touch­screen has Blue­tooth and voice con­trol, as well as USB port and SD card slot.

The car is also packed with tech­nol­ogy to help you cope with the power.

The new Elec­tronic Tran­si­tional Sta­bil­ity Func­tion improves re­sponse and cor­ner­ing and improves bal­ance at speed. The multi-func­tion steer­ing wheel is a plea­sure to han­dle and a full set of con­trols sur­round the driver for whom the car is de­signed. At the rear there is ad­e­quate space for the long legged. The rear seats fold down in 60/40 fash­ion to in­crease the al­ready-ad­e­quate boot space con­sid­er­ably.

We loved it.

PHOTO: AL­WYN VILJOEN

The Ford Fo­cus ST, 2L Ecoboost has the grunt to shunt, all while sound­ing civilised out­side and roar­ing in­side the cabin, which is a mas­ter­class in er­gonomic de­sign.

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