Some cars just seem to hang together very well, and I think I've discovered why by talking to Ford Team RS boss Jost Capito.
I sat next to Capito (left) at this week's Autocar awards, where we fell to discussing fine-detail engineering. I had just seen a bit of this at first hand in Death Valley, when driving a late pre-production mule of the new Skoda Superb. Skoda engineering boss Eckhart Scholz was going over the car with a fine tooth comb, worrying even about the weighting of the ratchet in the climate control switches.
Capito told me he took the same approach with the Focus ST. He took great pains to make sure that the leather trim on the steering wheel was of the right quality and the right thickness. "It had to feel like you were holding a normal steering wheel while wearing a driving glove."
Capito also made sure the ST was exactly to his liking just days before it was committed to production by driving to Italy and back from the UK, over a weekend. "I did about 4000 kilometres, only stopping for fuel. I wanted to be sure that every detail was covered."
And he discovered one flaw he couldn't let through. Capito reckoned the instrument illumination couldn't be turned down far enough when driving in total darkness. Undeterred, he badgered everyone involved to generate a fix before the cars were rolling off the line.
Capito got his way in the end. And I got a lesson in how the best cars come together.