NEW: FOCUS ST EDITION
Ford said it wouldn’t build a Mk4 Focus RS, but the new ST Edition looks to be every bit as much of a hardcore driver’s car as a Rallye Sport…
It’s been repeatedly reported that Ford has no plans to make another RS model. With every manufacturer in the world faced with the challenge of switching to electric power, it’s easy to understand Ford’s current stance – even if we don’t quite believe the rumours for ourselves and would never bet against the Rallye Sport badge making yet another comeback.
But what does the lack of hardcore, motorsport-inspired, enthusiastic driver’s car mean for the Ford Performance department?
Well, to start with, it doesn’t. It doesn’t mean the lack of hardcore, motorsport-inspired, enthusiastic driver’s car; it just means a different name. To all intents and purposes, the new Focus ST Edition could easily be considered the RS of the model range – certainly there have been less performance orientated models to wear the Rally eS port tag in the past.
But following Ford’s recent tradition of listing anything a little bit special as an Edition model, the ST Edition builds on what is arguably the best performance-car base Ford Performance has in its stable – the underrated Mk4 Focus ST – to create a truly driver-focused version that is equally at home on the track as it is the open road.
The main differences between the ST Edition and the regular ST are the handling upgrades; the ST Edition comes with
Ford Performance adjustable coilovers and lightweight 19in alloys instead of the stock items. The coilovers – made by KW Automotive – have been extensively tested on the car at Germany’s Nürburgring to deliver the optimum performance on road and track. The revised springs (which are neatly powder-coated in Ford’s Performance Blue) are more than 50 per cent stiffer than the standard car’s, and mean the ST Edition sits 10mm lower than the regular ST. Plus, there’s a further adjustment of 20mm available on top of that.
And that’s just ride-height adjustment. There are 12 bump and 16 rebound settings available to choose from too, offering
seemingly endless amounts of adjustment. So many permutations, in fact, that Ford feels compelled to send each ST Edition out with its own technical document suggesting recommended damper settings for a range of different driving conditions.
To enhance handling even further, and reinforcing the ST Edition’s credentials as a proper performance-focused model, the stock 19in alloys have been swapped for the aforementioned lightweight, flow-formed Ford Performance rims. These come wrapped in Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tyres, and are reported to save ten per cent on unsprung mass at each corner. This reduction in weight means the wheels and tyres can more effectively follow the changes in the road surface, and allows those trick coilovers to work even better to provide optimum grip.
Of course, the much-raved-about electricLSD from the regular ST is retained. The eLSD has the ability to deliver up to 100 per cent of the engine’s torque to the wheel with most traction, and thanks to pre-emptively acting upon information from various sensors and driver inputs, is said to be faster-acting than a conventional mechanical LSD.
The same 2.3-litre EcoBoost as the regular ST is under the bonnet, delivering the same 280PS (276bhp) and 420Nm (310lb.ft), and offering the same 5.7-second 0-to-60mph time and 155mph top speed.
On the outside, though, the ST Edition distinguishes itself with a unique (in the Focus line-up anyway; it’s also available on the ST Edition version of the Fiesta) Azura Blue and Gloss Black highlights, including upper grille, front bumper wings, door mirror caps, rear spoiler, rear diffusers and roof.
Inside, the stock part-leather Recaros are now edged in Ford Performance blue stitching, as too are the steering wheel, gear gaiter, centre console and floor mats. There’s also now a red ST starter button.
Prices for the ST Edition start at £35,785, and Ford says it has deliberately chosen the five-door hatch, manual, EcoBoost version (the regular ST is also available as an estate and/or with a 2.0-litre EcoBlue engine) to ‘ensure the lowest possible weight for optimised control’ and also ‘for maximum driver engagement’.
And that’s what the ST Edition is all about; it may lack the holy RS logo on the boot, but make no mistake, this is one driver-focused Focus. We can’t wait to get behind the wheel very soon.