ST puts Focus on fast, not furious
Iain Dooley checks out Ford's rapid Focus ST, a hot-hatchback for the masses.
Engines – The Focus ST doesn't follow the well-trodden hot-hatch path of highly-strung four-cylinder engines. Back when Volvo was owned by Ford, the Blue Oval chose the Swedish firm's 2.5-litre turbo motor. An unusual choice, but with more torque than a four-pot it proves a more manageable daily driver. The engine's 221 horsepower delivers the goods when you need it, too.
Exterior – Keen to distance the ST from more outrageously-styled rivals, Ford's hot Focus presents a surprisingly conservative face to the world. Chunky alloy wheels and a modest bodykit are the only clues as to this particular car's potential.
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Interior – Like the exterior, Ford opted to design a low-key interior for the ST. Save for the supportive sports seats and sports steering wheel not much has changed over a regular, high-spec Focus. It all works well and build quality is impressive though.
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Driving – By its own admission Ford never set out to make the Focus ST a flame-spitting monster. As a result, the car offers a more rounded 'GTI' experience than some other race-tuned rivals. Power delivery is predictable and grip is never in short supply. There's a nice balance between ride comfort and the ability to push hard into corners. And then there's that tuneful five-pot turbo motor – this flexible and torquey engine is the star performer, and one that will never fail to make you smile.
Ownership – Keen to make ST motoring affordable, Ford's decision to play down the car's appearance and make use of a relatively quiet engine should be reflected in your insurance premium. Remember, bewinged, noisy cars are often perceived as a greater risk. When driven sensibly, fuel consumption should be bearable, while the fundamental Focus attributes are all there – solid build, practical and spacious cabin.
What to look for – As with all performance cars it's important to find out whether the ST has been on a track. The reality is that the ST will have been driven harder than your average Focus and could lead to bigger garage bills later in life. As such, a full service history and a thorough test-drive are both essential. Evidence of kerbed wheels and parking dents should have you seeking better cared-for examples.
Model history – 2006, Ford launches ST performance version of its acclaimed Focus. Both three and five-door bodystyles offered. Power comes from a 221 horsepower five-cylinder turbo petrol engine, and is sent through the front wheels. Three equipment grades to choose from, with the base model (ST 1) aimed at enthusiasts seeking a low frills experience and ST 3 offering ESP and more creature comforts.
Reasons to buy – Good value, fun to drive, usual Focus attributes, modest exterior styling enhancements.
Reasons to beware – Potential for mechanical abuse, too 'soft' for some keen drivers.
Pick of the range – Focus ST 2 five-door.
What To Pay – 2006 55 �8,500; 2006 56 �9,350; 2007 57 �10,650; 2008 08 �11,850; 2008 58 �12,825; 2009 09 �14,250; 2010 10 �16,650. Figures are showroom prices for cars in A1 condition.