Photo courtesy of Ford of Canada
Full-leather Recaro bucket seats; 18-inch aluminum wheels wrapped in high-performance Goodyear Eagle F1 rubber; two-litre 252 horsepower EcoBoost engine mated to a six-speed manual transmission. In a…what? Ford FOCUS?!
That’s the kind of incredulity I am usually met with, when I explain to regular car folk that the ST is a slightly different breed of Focus. It’s still the practical hatchback that college students and other entry-level consumers have come to know and love, only with a few enhancements like the Tangerine Scream paint job and the two-litre turbocharged engine that will leave you wondering what exactly you’ve gotten yourself into.
In the above-referenced tangerine colour that’s more of an egg yolk yellow, you will stand out on the road. That can be a good or bad thing depending on who’s watching — your friendly neighbourhood police officer is bound to take notice if you throw caution to the wind and stretch the ST’s legs on a long patch of freeway. With big air intakes on the bumper, a rally-influenced rear wing and a centre-exit exhaust, it’s easy to differentiate this from the standard models. Inside, anyone who has driven a recent Ford should be quite comfortable with familiarities like the MyFord Touch system that allows full control of several onboard systems – using your fingers or your voice — from entertainment to communication. What might not be so comfortable for some is sitting in the aggressive Recaro reclinable race seats. Personally I enjoy a thickly bolstered seat for holding me in tight while I negotiate country backroads, but even I found the shoulder supports an obstacle at times while shifting gears.
Photo courtesy of Ford of Canada
Driving the Focus ST reminded me of my previous, previous, previous personal vehicle — the first North American Subaru Impreza WRX. Minus the Boxer engine rumble of course, although the ST sounds great in its own right. The push-you-into-your-seat straight-line acceleration is classic turbo, one that pumps out 252 horsepower and 270 lb-ft torque. Ford has managed to tame the wild torque steer common to powerful front wheel drive vehicles, particularly in situations with uneven road surfaces, using its electric power-assisted steering system that will compensate accordingly and minimize effects felt by the driver during hard acceleration. The ride is just firm enough that allows for minimized body roll and good cornering ability without inducing anxiety when going over every pothole and bridge connection. If you are light on the pedal —although if you are, why are you in the ST? — fuel consumption numbers are 10.2 L/100 km city and 7.3 highway.
The Ford Focus ST, which has long been available in previous iterations to other markets, chose a good time to finally make its way to local shores. Out the door, the price tag for our test vehicle was $34,849. That puts it right where it belongs in venerated WRX, MazdaSpeed3 and GTI territory, and with what the ST brings to the table it doesn’t need to worry about being that awkward new kid in school.
Notable features (as tested)
Price: MSRP 29,999
Engine: 2.0 L EcoBoost, 252 hp @ 5,500 rpm/270 lb-ft @ 2,500 rpm
Drivetrain: six-speed manual transmission, front engine front wheel drive
Curb weight: 1,429 kg
Safety and security: Dual stage front airbags, front/rear side impact and curtain airbags, driver knee airbag