Two litres. Turbo. Slick shifting six speed manual. Is it a goer? Oh, yes, very much. These numbers tell the story: 186 kilowatts (5500 rpm). 360 Newton metres of torque between 2000 and 4500 revs. Ford’s EcoBoost technology makes this an immensely flexible engine around town, allows safe overtaking and feeds a somewhat annoying drone into the cabin once the tacho sees 2500 rpm.
Ford quotes a combined fuel economy of 7.4L per 100 kilometres; the best A Wheel Thing saw was on a highway run, at 7.8L per 100 kilometres….the tank has a 62 litre capacity and will take 92 to 98 RON unleaded.
It’s largely unchanged from the Focus that landed here two years ago; rounded and angular, a pushed out to each corner stance provides an aggressive pose. At the front, there’s the familiar truncated triangle design with the grille hiding the upright sides and a shutter for the intake system.
The profile flows into an ovoid shape, has colour coded handles for the doors on the ST and finishes with an impressive rear deck spoiler. The hatch lid itself is well balanced and can be lifted with one finger.
Headlights are underpinned by LED daylight running lights and come with a self leveling system as well; the tail lights have two horizontal bars, with an almost neon light look to them. It’s a striking and eye catching design, helped by the bright gold paint the test car came clad in.
Rolling stock is 225/45/18s.
On The Inside.
Of immediate note are the Recaro seats for driver and passenger; you sit down into them and they’re trimmed in body colour. In this case, it’s a retina searing yellow (complete with sporty red ST embossing), contrasting with the charcoal black, inlaid to the supportive and body encompassing seats. They’re well padded, wrap around you and lack only heating for colder climates.
The dash is familiar in layout and display, with a predominantly blue hue, there’s the multi-leveled information screens accessed via the steering wheel buttons, with the upper centre console also housing both a trio of gauges, including turbo boost, and the larger map and information screen. They’re clear to read, clearly laid out and information is easily accessed. sadly, Ford persists with the inbuilt Sony head unit (no digital tuner, in this case) and its damnable button layout.
For the driver, the ST gets a thick and chunky steering wheel, complete with chrome inlay at the bottom with ST engraved in…painted red, so you know it’s a sports hatch.
Rear seat room is fine, thanks to the wheelbase, allowing plenty of leg room, not to mention shoulder and hip room. Even the hatch cargo section has plenty of space for a weekend away for four people.
On The Road.
It’s here that the ST shows its strengths; it’s a sledgehammer mix of grunt and subtlety, raw power and finesse. There’s the typical off boost hesitancy of a turbo engine before that 360 Newton metres comes on stream; gently used, it’ll pull the ST around nicely, with the old “even grandma can drive it” truism but, when prodded into anger, it’ll hook up, tacho zinging around the dial, turbo boost gauge rising and the cabin feedback note becoming more pervasive. A snick of the smooth and well weighted gear lever, a push of the nicely calibrated clutch pedal and illegality is shown on the speedo. Yes, there’s a touch of torque steer when on boost however the front differential system does a solid job of minimising that.
Rolling acceleration, when on boost, is stupendous; off boost but in the torque band, it’s as easily to drive as it is to drink a glass of water
Braking is beautiful, modulated perfectly, becoming almost an extension of the body, with no lack of confidence in the system. It’ll haul up the ST safe;y, time and time again, with no qualms. Of note, however, was the road noise transmitted into the cabin; it’s excessive, intrusive and wearisome.
Handling is pin point precise; the steering ratio is a tick under 3.5 turns lock to lock, meaning rapid response. The suspension is supple, fluid, even allowing for the sports feeling the ST is endowed with. Its wheelbase and wide track give a surefooted feel across all sorts of road terrain, from tarmac to the concrete freeway between Goulburn and Canberra to the rougher and more unkempt roads in suburbia.
Head over to Ford’s website, http://www.ford.com.au and follow the links to the Focus.