When it comes to powerful front-drive cars such as the Ford Focus ST, 0-60mph times only tell you so much. In fact, they tell you more about the size of the front tyres, the gear ratios, the efficiency of the traction control system and the durability of the clutch than they do about the power and its delivery.

A 6.2sec 0-60mph time is claimed for the Ford Focus ST and, in one direction, two-up and full of fuel, we matched it. Our two-way average of 6.3sec is a rather more reasonable reflection of where the ST is, however, given that a full-bore start in a car with 247bhp inevitably creates some strain on the drivetrain, and repeating it does it no favours.

Matt Saunders Autocar

Matt Saunders

Road test editor
The ST's electronic torque vectoring system mimics a limited-slip diff by braking a spinning wheel

It’s mildly interesting, too, that the 0-62mph time is 6.5sec. There’s a gearchange just after 60mph (our calculated 64mph maximum speed in second doesn’t allow for tyre deflection), from second to third.

If you just want to enjoy the ST’s powertrain, aurally and in gearchange quality, the best that the ST has to offer comes from short-shifting slightly, and to hell with the loss of a couple of tenths against the clock. The change is then more positive than at its limit; the noise peaks at its best before the 6750rpm red line, too.

Top 5 Hot hatchbacks

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

But what a noise it is. Ford pumps induction noise through a tube to the back of the dashboard, where it resonates nicely and creates the sort of hollow ‘brap’ that was the trademark of the old five-pot ST. It sounds quite organic and heterogeneous; certainly, we’d rather listen to this than the assimilated, digitised V8 that BMW plays through the speakers of the M5 and M6.

There’s nothing wrong with the ST’s power delivery, either, barring a slight reluctance to begin spinning at low revs, which is not unexpected from a 2.0-litre engine that makes this much oomph. Whether it requires a limited-slip differential or clever front suspension system to deliver it to the road is a moot point we shall come to in the next section.

The 2.0-litre diesel is less tuneful and significantly more docile. The TDCi ST is so quiet that its barely audible except for tyre roar and pumped in exhaust noise when you push on. The engine itself is always willing to pull and gives wave after wave of effortless torque as you go through the ratios. Such is the nature of the engine, it never feels like a slouch and feels more urgent than the equivalent Golf GTD.

Save money on your car insurance

Compare quotesCompare insurance quotes

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week