Focusing on speed and style
To put it into perspective, around Mondello Park’s national circuit the ST was 0.69 of a second quicker than the Seat Leon Cupra R and just 0.66 of a second behind the Mégane RS Trophy, the current hot hatch pace-setter. We haven’t had the opportunity to take the GTI out, but we did test the Volkswagen Golf R previously; it was 1.47 of a second off the ST’s time.
The Mégane RS is undeniably fast around the track and still my personal favourite for track driving; the ST, however, is easier to live with on a daily basis, in a similar way to the versatile Golf GTI.
Both cars offer practical motoring; they will happily fulfil the family duties and entertain the driving enthusiast behind the wheel. Daily running costs for these hot hatches aren’t too steep considering the performance on offer: the Focus ST will return a combined fuel consumption of 7.2l/100km (39.2mpg), while annual motor tax will set you back €481, although this will have gone up since the Minister for Finance dished out his budget earlier this month.
Standard specification on the Focus ST includes keyless start, Recaro sports seats, 18in alloy wheels and Bluetooth connectivity. Our test car was the ST2 variant (€2,300 premium); this benefits from additional equipment that includes Ford’s SYNC advanced voice control, device integration and connectivity interface, and electronic climate control.
Ford has priced the ST competitively. The entry-level ST (priced at €35,170) has a price advantage of almost €2,000 over the equivalent five-door Golf GTi. The GTi, however, tends to have a stronger residual value when it comes to selling after a few years of ownership.
This latest incarnation of the Focus ST embodies all the characteristics required to fulfil the status of a true hot hatch. It’s practical, properly fast and above all entertaining to drive.
On the other hand it’s expensive and something of a luxury in these austere times, but there are petrolheads out there who would sacrifice light and heat for the right car, and this falls firmly into this category.
The ST is fun without too much compromise in terms of practicality. Delivering on both fronts means it scores high in our ratings.
The Lowdown: Ford Focus ST
1,999cc EcoBoost four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine putting out 250hp at 5,500rpm and 360Nm of torque from 1,750rpm with a six-speed manual transmission .
0-100km/h in 6.5 seconds, max speed 248km/h.
Urban 9.9l/100km (28.5mpg) extra-urban 5.6l/100km (50.4 mpg) combined 7.2l/100km (39.2 mpg).
169g/km (€570 from January 1st)
Standard features on the ST2 model include 18in alloy wheels, keyless start, Recaro sports seats, Bluetooth, climate control, auto wipers, auto headlights.
Volkswagen Golf GTI 2.0 Petrol 210hp €37,025 (motor tax €481); Seat Leon Cupra R 2.0 Petrol 265hp €39,525 (motor tax €677); Renaultsport Mégane 2.0 Petrol 265hp €35,990 (motor tax €677).