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Ford’s ST more Focus-ed than ever

09.07.2015

THE C-segment is a great place for consumers to shop these days in terms of hot hatchbacks. There’s the likes of the Volkswagen Golf GTI, Opel’s Astra OPC, Renault’s Mégane RS and Ford’s Focus ST. The latter has recently been refreshed so I went down to KwaZulu-Natal to sample it on road and track.

Refreshed you say?

On the face of it, the new Focus ST is certainly prettier than before; I wasn’t a fan of the pre-facelift model.  Ford has redesigned the front and rear ends with more streamline front lights, rectangular fog lamps and a smaller front grille, while at the rear, the lights have also been made slimmer and the diffuser re-shaped. What’s more, there’s a new signature colour joining the range in addition to ‘tangerine scream’ and it’s called, ‘stealth’ - a metallic grey, which seemed to be popular among everyone at the launch.

Interior changes

More significant changes can be seen inside and thankfully the first thing you’ll notice is just how many buttons have been removed. There’s a newly designed steering-wheel branded with the ST badge and the same three-gauge bank on the instrument binnacle for boosted pressure; overall a significantly improved interior.

Depending on which model you select (ST1 or ST3) the interior will look slightly different, however, the common theme is more simplicity. The higher-specified ST3 model gets a proper eight-inch touchscreen infotainment system called SYNC II, which now includes more voice commands, voice-controlled climate control, as well as audio and smartphone functionality.

Tell me more about the models

The base model (ST1) comes with cloth Recaro seats and a less sophisticated SYNC infotainment (with Bluetooth/USB/AUX) system lifted from the older model, but with several updates. It also gets 18-inch alloys, cruise control, multi-function steering-wheel and air conditioning.

Move up a model and you’ll get the aforementioned SYNC II infotainment system, electric heated leather Recaro seats, dual-zone climate control, a Sony nine-speaker sound system along with LED daytime running lights and bi-Xenon HID headlamps. There are only two optional extras available in the range, one being R750 for metallic paint and the other a R6 540 option for the ST3 model, which gets you a sunroof and 19-inch wheels finished in grey.

Is it better to drive?

In a word…yes. The engineers at Ford have made the new car stiffer with modifications to the body structure, while the suspension features new springs, adjusted shock absorbers and stiffer suspension bushes.

These changes - in combination with calibration changes to the electronic power steering system - and features like torque vectoring, made the ST fun to drive around the track. There is still a hint of understeer however, the car is quite playful with three ESC settings namely: Normal, Sport and ESC off, which allows you to build confidence when pushing the car on.

Is it more powerful?

No, it retains the same figures as before with the 184kW/360Nm from its 2.0-litre turbo EcoBoost motor. This means the 0-100km/h time remains at 6.5 seconds, but more importantly, the car is less prone to torque steer; don’t get me wrong, it still does, but it is much improved. It is also more economical with the addition of Stop/Start technology and improved aerodynamics for a claimed consumption figure of 6.8 litres/100km and a CO2 figure of 159 g/km. 

Warranty and service

The Focus ST range comes with a four-year/120 000km warranty and a four-year/80 000km service plan.

Pricing

Focus 2.0 EcoBoost ST1 five-door  R381 900
Focus 2.0 EcoBoost ST3 five-door R421 900

 

Article written by Sean Nurse
09.07.2015
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