Ford Focus ST hatchback (2006 – ) first UK drive
Friday 30 May 2008
You’re not short of choice if you’re looking for a hot hatch – and they don’t come much hotter than the Ford Focus ST.
The Ford Focus ST has now had a facelift to sit alongside the excellent 2008 Focus hatch. Adrian Hearn took one for a day to see if it was still the ultimate hooligan hot hatch.
While the Volkswagen Golf GTi is often seen as the thinking man’s hot hatch, the previous generation Focus ST is the lairy hooligan of the pack.
And the facelifted Ford Focus ST is a full-blown yob of a hot hatch. When it’s orange and in three-door guise. But we got behind the wheel of a five-door Ford Focus ST in blue.
It is a calmer looking and more disguised model, but underneath there’s still the same throaty 2.5-litre turbocharged engine producing 225bhp and 236lb/ft of pulling power.
At low speeds you wonder what the fuss is all about with the Focus ST drifting along un-sensationally in a diesel-esque fashion thanks to the large amounts of pulling power low in the rev-range. And this is a good thing. You don’t want to be bellowing about waking neighbours at night when you pull up in a car sounding louder than a Led Zeppelin concert.
But at 3,000rpm, the Focus becomes an ST. Loud and unashamedly proud, it morphs into a motoring brute. And by flooring it you get some stunning performance. A full-bore start will see 62mph (100kph) arrive in 6.8 seconds thanks to the boost given by the turbocharger. If there are no speed limits you’ll end up hitting 150mph.
On the road there is plenty of grip and minimal roll through the corners. The Recaro race seats hold you in place, while the suspension is surprisingly comfortable soaking up bumps like you wouldn’t expect. Ford has fitted the ST with a special sports suspension which will limit roll as well as bum ache from pot holes in the road.
You get a set of 18-inch alloys, sporty bodykit, an ST steering wheel and upgraded instruments including a turbo gauge. As with the new Focus, the ST also gets a power start button as opposed to a key and Ford’s Easyfuel system which will prevent filling up with the wrong fuel.
The Ford Focus ST-2 mid-trim model we drove benefits from a Sony sound system, bi-xenon headlights, LED rear lights and the excellent Quickclear heated front windscreen. Our test car had sat-nav and a large entertainment screen which is an £800 option. The top ST-3 trim adds a six-CD autochanger and full leather trim. As with the whole of the Focus range, the interior is well built and robust.
You’re well catered for in the safety department with traction control and electronic stability programme as standard while the Focus was awarded a full five-stars in the EuroNCAP crash test programme.
So if you want to be noticed go for the three door model in bright orange. But if you want to glide by comfortable in the knowledge you’ve got a 150mph monster under the right-hand foot pedal, opt for the more discreet five door. And in this guise you’re less likely to attract boy racers at the lights – not that they’ll have much chance beating you anyway.
Model tested: Ford Focus ST-2 2.5 5-dr
On the road price: £19,850
Price range: £18,250 – £20,850
Date tested: May 2008
Road tester: Adrian Hearn