The new Ford Focus ST wouldn’t have had to be good for it to stick in the mind. Fast Fords, teased from the firm’s vast machinations only sporadically, are event cars in Britain.
No other brand of hot hatch, save the VW Golf GTI, extracts as much ink from us, and no other brand, save perhaps Renault, earns as much praise.
The ST was different in that it wasn’t solely intended for the enthusiastic UK market. The car was largely developed in the US, and rather than throwing its considerable weight behind trick chassis items, Ford’s SVT division kept the Focus ST relatively simple and the costs small.
The result is a £22k body blow to its rivals. For the same money that buys a new 1.4 TSI Golf, you can have a 247bhp ST that seats four and hits 62mph in 6.5sec and 154mph, yet managed 40.2mpg on our road test touring run.
But figures, no matter how heart-warming, don’t do the Focus justice. Ford has cast its abilities wide, yet somehow managed to prevent them from spreading thin. Strong-willed but soft-edged is how we described it at our Britain’s Best Driver’s Car event (where it was the only front-wheel-drive model deemed worthy of a place) and that almost says it all.
6.5sec There’s mega-hatch pace and dauntless, dynamic handling at one end – fired by 250lb ft of torque from 1750rpm and a zealous variable steering rack – and considerate, tightly manipulated comfort at the other. Under the road test microscope, the beguiling mix earned it 4.5 stars. With any luck, the other half star will be where the next Focus RS goes.