Car review: Ford Focus ST 2.3 petrol

Conceptually the Ford Focus ST is refreshingly old fashioned – because it’s a car that’s designed to be fun.

Ford has always been good at making mainstream cars entertaining, and the ST fits that template in a stuffed-with-technology 21st century way.

We drove the responsive 2.3 litre turbocharged petrol (there’s also a 2.0 diesel) which is a bit lower and bulgier than the regular Focus. This is a powerful front-drive car so to get that power through the wheels without them thrashing about it uses an electronic slip differential – the electric bit makes it a design first for the model – and you can select various driving modes to adjust what the steering, suspension and engine do when the car is accelerating and cornering. I did not try the launch button for super-fast ‘getaways’, but colleagues who care about such things waxed lyrical about it.

Although this is a 155mph motor car that will get to 62mph in under six seconds it’s actually a doddle to drive and will trickle along in an easy-going way until given its head.

It has an excellent driving position, nice-to-use six-speed transmission, which Ford bafflingly says is ideal for ‘urgent changes’ whatever they are (there’s also a seven-speed self-shifter), and a forgiving nature. These are combined with rapid steering and thoroughly sorted suspension to produce something that can be flung through bends at indecent speeds.

Ford talks about it having ‘track-day performance,’ and if your idea of a fun weekend is hooning round a racing circuit with other competitive types, this car would be ideal. It could also be taken to the shops afterwards, as it’s an entirely practical family vehicle. Oh yes, although the Focus ST handles like a go-kart it doesn’t ride like one, so any milk you bought wouldn’t turn to cheese on the way home.

Ford claim a little over 35mpg combined, and if CO2 emissions of 179g/km are pretty antisocial these days, they’re also pretty good for something as rapid as this.

Those for whom going fast, finely nuanced handling and vehicular balance are vitally important will adore the Focus ST and it’s certainly practical, very capable and offers accessible fun, but I do wonder if cars like this will still be around in a few years.

Details: Ford Focus ST 2.3 petrol

0-62mph 5.7sec

155mph top speed

35.7mpg (combined)

179g/km CO2

Price: £29,495.


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