Ford Edge ST pow­ers ahead of its premium cross­over com­pe­ti­tion

Montreal Gazette - - DRIVING - DAVID BOOTH Driv­ing.ca

You want a Ford Edge ST? What a good choice. Now that Ford’s ST per­for­mance divi­sion has no cars to fet­tle — the com­pany de­cid­ing to aban­don the sedan mar­ket in favour of trucks and SUVs — it had to put the ST badge some­where. That some­where turns out to be the mid-sized Edge cross­over and the re­sult is an amal­gam of util­ity, per­for­mance and so­phis­ti­ca­tion. Of­fi­cially, the ST is a re­place­ment for the pre­vi­ous Edge Sport, the link­age ob­vi­ous be­cause both are pow­ered by Ford’s EcoBoost 2.7-litre twin-turbo V-6, the same en­gine that gar­ners so much praise in the F-150 pickup. A sub-six-sec­ond zero-to-100 km/h ac­cel­er­a­tion time from a semi-cost­con­scious mid-sized ute is to be cel­e­brated, but it’s the smooth­ness of the power de­liv­ery that impresses. This is prob­a­bly the low­est noise, vi­bra­tion and harsh­ness achieved by any Ford SUV, re­gard­less of size, price and en­gine con­fig­u­ra­tion and at least equal to the var­i­ous Ger­man com­peti­tors. Ev­ery time I drove the ST, I was blown away by the pow­er­train that seems al­most a per­fect match for the per­for­mance sub-seg­ment of this class. If the han­dling doesn’t quite match the urge, it’s not for lack of try­ing; the Edge is a cross­over, after all. None­the­less, thanks to stiffer springs and anti-sway bars, low-pro­file 20-inch tires and a re­jigged steer­ing cal­i­bra­tion, the ST ac­quits it­self quite well in the off-ramp boo­gie. The steer­ing of­fers more feed­back than a gar­den-va­ri­ety Edge, but not as much as the Euro­pean com­pe­ti­tion. None­the­less, the chas­sis is still a job well done for the ST divi­sion. In­side, the ST is mostly stock Edge — al­beit fully loaded with max­i­mum in­fo­tain­ment and dig­i­tal driver-aid sys­tems. It’s also worth not­ing that Ford’s Sync sys­tem is now one of in­fo­tain­ment’s lead­ing lights. The Edge ST is the best Ford I have driven. If you’re bound and de­ter­mined to drive Ger­man, well, it’s hard to go wrong with Audi’s SQ5. Fine han­dling with steer­ing feel that is su­pe­rior to the ST, the SQ5 is also more comely. That said, its 3.0-L tur­bocharged V-6 doesn’t feel quite as sweet as Ford’s 2.7-L ver­sion. It does boast a bit more horse­power at 354 hp, but there is less torque. Over­all I find Ford’s take on the tur­bocharged V-6 su­pe­rior to Audi’s. Those look­ing to jus­tify the Audi’s price premium — the SQ5 starts at $61,300, while the ST is pretty much all in at $49,099 — will get their re­venge in­side. Audi, as al­ways, is the master of the lux­u­ri­ous in­te­rior with im­pec­ca­ble fit and fin­ish. You want sexy? Well then, you need Range Rover’s Evoque. Newly re­freshed and ex­pected to ar­rive soon as a 2020 model, Land Rover’s style-set­ting com­pact cross­over is still the sex­i­est thing that can pre­tend to go off-road. Plus the Evoque re­ally can ad­ven­ture out in the boonies. All Land Rovers are able to ford a stream or climb a rock. As for per­for­mance, the 2020 model is newly in­vig­o­rated, the P300 mild hy­brid ver­sion now of­fer­ing 296 hp. But it’s still an in-line four and, though a fine ex­am­ple of the breed, un­likely to trou­ble the ST in the NVH sweep­stakes. That said, like the Audi, the Range Rover clearly edges the Ford in­side with more sump­tu­ous leather and avant-garde styling. There’s also some pretty cool tech­nol­ogy, in­clud­ing the ClearSight rear-view mir­ror. Cur­rent Evo­ques are about the same price as an Edge ST, but we’ll have to wait un­til the Mon­treal auto show Jan. 18-27 for fi­nal­ized 2020 pric­ing. You want the very best ST-badged ve­hi­cle of all time? The best car in Ford’s per­for­mance unit is also, at $26,358, the cheapest. I am talk­ing about the Fi­esta ST, the lit­tle bomb that Ford crafts out of what most peo­ple looked upon as a bar­gain-base­ment econo-hatch and not a par­tic­u­larly good one at that. The Fi­esta ST may have only a 1.6-L tur­bocharged four un­der the hood, al­beit with a fairly de­cent 197 hp, but it is the finest han­dling front-driver I have tested. The ST’s in­cred­i­ble bal­ance lets you choose be­tween speed-scrub­bing un­der­steer and tail-happy over­steer with the mere stab of its re­spon­sive throt­tle. In­deed, timed right, you can man­age both in the same cor­ner.

CHRIS BALCERaK/DRIV­ING

The Ford Edge ST de­liv­ers in its per­for­mance.

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