The Ford Focus ST has gained a new four-pot motor, but does it have what it takes to gun for the Golf GTI?
What is it?
Still waiting for the new Ford Focus RS? Join the club. But the hottest Ford hatch at present, the 223bhp Focus ST, is showing no signs of getting any hotter.
This, notorious tuners Brodie Brittain Racing reckons, is where it comes in, with its ST-350. For the princely sum of £9795 over the price of your own ST, BBR will lower its suspension, tweak the geometry, fit a big-bore stainless steel exhaust system and slot in a limited-slip differential.
Oh, and then they’ll take your engine to bits, fit a different turbo and a clever air inlet system, and remap the ECU. The end result is, wait for it, 356bhp and 380lb ft.
What’s it like?
It’s a mighty lump, no doubt about it; there’s torque from barely 2000rpm, but unlike the regular ST, which tightens up considerably at around 5000rpm, the BBR will happily rev through to over 6500rpm.
We can believe BBR’s claimed 0-60mph time of 5.0sec and the limited maximum of 165mph. There can be few £30k cars as rapid as this, and fewer still will sound as good.
On twistier roads, though, things can get a little messy. The suspension tweaks (bottom wishbones, mainly) do an admirable job of coping with so much twist through the front wheels; the ST’s fine damping has largely been retained too. But you can still light up the front tyres on the way out of third gear bends. And that’s in the dry.
When things get bumpy, the LSD tends to deliver spectacular but lurching acceleration. Short-shifting helps, but do that and you’re half the way back to a normal ST anyway, shunning this car’s incredible power levels for its safer, easier-to-manage mid-range torque.
Should I buy one?
While it’s all good clean fun, this car ultimately raises as many new questions as it delivers answers to old problems. As a track-day weapon it has considerable merit. But it’s not as incredible as the prospect might appear as a road car, and it’s definitely not the new RS; only Ford itself can deliver that.
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