Words: Stephen Spyropoulos
Photography: Stephen Spyropoulos
Published: May 23, 2017
Whether you call yourself a car enthusiast or someone who just likes hatchbacks, the Focus ST (an acronym for Sports Technology) belongs on your list of cars to test drive. The ST combines a high fun-to-drive factor with the everyday versatility of a four-door hatchback.
Straight off the press, the ST comes standard with a turbocharged 2.0-litre four cylinder engine, which cranks out a healthy 252 horsepower and 270 lb-ft of torque, and a smooth shifting six-speed manual gearbox.
The Focus ST is a blast to drive, with gobs of power and razor-sharp cornering ability that feels like the car is pulling itself towards the apex. Its tenacious brakes will never let you down either. The ride however, is stiffened for sports duty but it’s not abusive. The ST shines winding roads and actually offers decent fuel economy and value—as long as you stay away from the expensive options. Torque steer is still present, but it is an issue that makes your drive hilariously more fun.
The ST is not a car for novices, though. For starters, it’s only available with a manual transmission, and while its suspension tuning rewards expert drivers with the ability to tail-slide around corners, it can also make emergency maneuvers trickier for the inexperienced. Buying this car for your newly G2-minted teenage driver would be a mistake.
The ST is also the rare front-wheel-drive car that easily slides its tail out in hard cornering like a rear-wheel-drive car. Electronic stability control steps in late, allowing so much oversteer that it can make you feel less confident during an avoidance maneuver. Ford should have tightened up the ESC program to make it more conservative for use on the road, and left the existing setting as a separate performance mode for competition driving.
Stepping on the accelerator pedal brings either a marvelous growl or intrusive racket, all depending on your mood. For one thing, it’s freaking addictive! Taking on-ramps to the highway become therapeutic as you romp on the throttle and let all the 252 horses come to life. When you are about to hit the redline, just grab onto the carbon-fibre glossed shift knob and drop into another gear to repeat the entertainment.
The cabin design screams, “go, go, go!” Instantly your eyes are drawn to the Recaro branded bucket seats with the ST logo embossed on the backrests. These seats are bolstered to high heaven and hold you super tight when cornering. These optional seats can be hard to resist, but you might want to pause a second before checking the box. The pronounced bolsters force a certain dedication to the cause – some drivers might find them overly confining, and you don't have to shop at Big & Tall shops to feel pinched. Big bottom cushion bolsters grip your legs like a vise, and wing bolsters cradle (or cramp) your shoulders.
And that's not all. The ST's bottom seat cushion is severely raked, with your butt down low and your knees up high. If you don't like that position, you need to raise the seat to try and even it out. But since you can't adjust cushion tilt independent of height, you often wind up with a compromise: sitting too high or having a pressure point under your thighs. Although there is adjustment for lumbar, the Recaros don't provide enough lumbar support for long driving sessions.
For most Focus models, the rear-seat cushions are comfortable and supportive, but they are too narrow for seating three adults across. Leg room, tight in the regular Focus, is even tighter in the ST thanks to the thick Recaro seat backs. Carved-out slots for your knees on the front seatbacks only help so much.
This particular tester came with the Carbon Accent Package (which is standard in Canada), and adds in some carbon fibre panels to the dashboard, doors, and most importantly, to the new shift knob that replaces the weird plastic one found in the regular ST model and the Focus RS.
The ST is no longer the hottest Focus around, what with the new all-wheel drive Focus RS can the offer. That does give the ST a renewed, slightly softer role in the world. Although this car is still great for those looking for a sportier option to the everyday run of the mill hatchback, there is still a lot more this car could do, and is evidenced by the addition of AWD clutchpacks in the RS.
Why would someone choose the little brother to the RS then? It all boils down to cash. The Focus ST starts at a humble $32,948. Meanwhile the RS starts at $48,418. If you’re worried about car payments, the dollar-per-fun factor choice is obvious. Plus, even a well-equipped ST with all the bells and whistles is still under $36,000.
Buyers will likely compare the ST to the Volkswagen Golf GTI, Subaru WRX, and Mini Cooper S. Personally I’d prefer the GTI for its superior cabin refinement and overall ride quality, but the Focus ST is a true winner in the hearts of enthusiasts, with boy-racer looks and more horsepower than the GTI. It’s sure to grab the attention of onlookers—just make sure that onlooker doesn’t wear a badge or a gun.
型号 Model: 2017 Ford Focus ST
顏色 Paint Type: Race Red
廠方建議售價 Base Price: $32,948
試車售價 Price as Tested: $34,348
軸距 Wheelbase(mm): 2,648
長闊 Length/Width/Height (mm): 4,362 / 1,471 / 2,044
車重 Curb weight (kg): 1,470
引擎 Engine: 2.0L EcoBoost Turbocharged 4-cylinder
最大馬力 Horsepower: 252 hp @ 5,500 rpm
最高扭力 Torque: 270 lb-ft. @ 2,500 rpm
波箱 Transmission: 6-speed manual
擺佈 Engine & Drive Configuration: Front engine, FWD
油耗 Fuel Consumption ( City / Highway / Combined ) L/100km: 10.5 / 7.8 / 9.3
油耗 Observed Fuel Consumption (L/100km): 10.0