The Focus ST wastes no time in laying its dynamic character on the table. From the moment you wind on even a degree of steering lock, its hyper-quick 11.6:1 ratio – quicker, even, than that fitted to a Ferrari 488 GTB – not only prompts an almost instantaneous response from the front end, but it also lets you know you’re in one of the most agile, fleet-footed hot hatches in the class.
Admittedly, it might not quite be on the same level as a Civic Type R for outright handling stability and pace, but those additional chassis tweaks along with the fitment of an eLSD and sticky Pilot Sport 4S tyres endow it with impressive levels of mid-corner grip and composure. The suspension does well to contain and control roll and pitch through faster bends – even when the dampers are completely slackened off – and the tyres provide an impressively secure, confidence-inspiring footing that encourages you to increasingly explore the car’s limits.
Track mode is undoubtedly the best setting for such endeavours. Turn-in is even more immediate and the ST’s enthusiasm for sniffing out apexes is significantly heightened. What’s more impressive, though, is that Ford has managed to engineer in such vivacious handling attitude without taking it too close to the extreme. There’s still good resistance to bump steer and surface-generated interference, and the differential is highly effective without being overly aggressive. It doesn’t get your synapses firing quite as frantically as in a hardcore car like the Renault Mégane RS Trophy, but the pay-off is that it doesn’t leave you feeling quite as drained when you calm it all down.