We’re used to fast Fords that transcend normal limitations, so to find one bound by them is a bit disappointing. But the Ford Focus ST has shortcomings on the circuit that can’t be overlooked.

It may ‘only’ be an ST, but owners will still take their cars on track-days and hill climbs, and should be able to do so without worrying about how much punishment their car can take.

The Focus ST’s shortcomings on the circuit can’t be overlooked

That concern is the main fly in the ointment preventing that extra half star. Maybe that’s a result of it being a car built for global markets, rather than simply for the hardcore hot hatch fans in the UK, Germany and a handful of other countries. But considering the handicap that creating a car for all could have been, the Focus ST is a superb effort.

A Mégane Cup is a more capable circuit car, and slightly more exciting on the road. But the Ford counters that with greater usability, fine value, lots of charm and handling thrills that are almost as vivid.

To many, the new Focus ST will be no less a hot hatch for being intended for the road. As a fast front-driver to use every day, we’d rate it higher than any.

And then there’s the added bonus of the flexibility offered by the Focus ST estate. It delivers that little bit more practicality, and is largely without equal in its class.

Despite the ST’s road-focused softness, it leaves plenty of room for the Focus RS. Maybe just a bit too much.