Ford Edge ST powers ahead of its premium crossover competition
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.
The Ford Edge ST delivers in its performance.