What is it?
With the fire-breathing versions of the Ford Focus ST and Ford Fiesta ST not destined to arrive until next year, fast Ford fans have had to endure a lull in blue oval-badged objects of lust since the final Ford Focus RS found a home.
Unable to turn the product tap all the way up to hot, Britain’s best-selling manufacturer has resolutely settled for warm. The Ford Fiesta Zetec-S has been the range’s peak performer (special editions aside) for years, and the trim level has taken less than a year to migrate to the new Ford Focus Zetec-S, tested here.
With it comes the more powerful version of the 1.6-litre Ecoboost engine already at the heart of the petrol line-up. Producing 180bhp and 199lb ft of torque in overboost mode, it improves the Focus’s 0-62mph time to 7.9 seconds, but retains the capacity for 47mpg fuel economy.
Around the beefier powerplant, Ford has hung all the usual Zetec-S trinkets. A bodykit is the obvious addition, but underneath the car has been treated to stiffened springs and dampers, while the cabin gains sportier front seats and a slightly better standard of trim.
What’s it like?
Perhaps inevitably, the shortcomings of the standard Focus make the dynamic alterations made here feel irresistibly superior. The discernable inertia in the chassis has been partly alleviated by the firmer setup, and the Zetec-S’s tauter turn in and proddable rear end now encourage enthusiastic driving rather than competently enduring it.