Price: £23,995 (£27,440 as tested)
Engine capacity: 2l petrol
Power output (PS): 250
Top speed (MPH): 154
Fuel economy (MPG): 41.5
CO2 emissions (G/KG): 159 0-60
MPH (seconds): 6.5
The Nürburgring. La Grande Corniche. The Pan American Highway. On none of these, I'm afraid, did I drive my test Ford Focus ST. Any would have made for a memorable experience, I'm sure. However, there is a stretch of the A50 just outside Stoke that is well worth exploring in a Focus ST.
I can explain. The ST is a sporty version of the well-known and very accomplished Focus, recently revised, and has been set up with slightly firm suspension – though by no means uncomfortable. This bit of the A50 is made out of that sort of light-brown concrete, rather than proper tarmac, and is ridged in a quite marked and regular way. The combination of road and car sets the driver of a Focus ST (me, in this instance) to bounce up and down as if they were a toddler on Nan's knee.
Car manufacturers often say that their products are "specially tuned for British roads", which is code for saying that they have to make the suspension a bit more pliant because of all the potholes. But I very much doubt the engineers at Ford had such an effect in mind when they designed the ST. In fact, I did try the Focus out on some twisty lanes in an especially lovely part of Westmorland, and it acquitted itself very well. The real test of these sorts of cars – Golf GTI, Vauxhall Astra VXR and the like – is not how fast they go and how well they stick to the road, but how well they stop; the ST stops extremely well. Full marks there and for the relatively forgiving suspension.
Things are less happy when the Focus is becalmed. The tailgate is far too heavy to open, and I am sure that the rear doors didn't shut as smoothly as they should. I also found that the petrol gauge once didn't give a true reading.
I ought to mention, too, that the big, fat wheels make for a poor turning circle and trickier parking.
Being a Ford, some people will dismiss this car simply because of its ubiquity and because they want something "different". In fact, Fords are nowhere near as dominant in the UK market as they once were, and, on its own merits, the Focus is as good as anything in its bracket. I would recommend it to anyone, except if you have to take the bit of the A50 near Stoke. Sorry about that.Reuse content