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Eff One

Ford Focus ST

Ever since I first read the road test in 2012, I've suspected that a Focus ST might fit me like a glove. Both my Mk2 Focus 1.6 and the Mk3 Tdci I hired in Scotland in 2013 are quietly excellent cars which fit seamlessly into your life while delivering surprising levels of entertainment when called upon.

The introduction of some minor tweaks, a tidier interior and a slightly less ugly face - and some quite attractive lease and finance offers - prompted me to bite the bullet and try an ST.

2015 cars aren't in the showrooms yet, so the demo was a 2014 ST3 in a particularly violent shade of yellow. Every toy under the sun of course - it even has a reversing camera - but although the leather is of decent quality, a base ST1 has everything I'd need.

The seats are pretty much perfect for me - grippy in all the right places, low enough - and you sit hunkered down behind a fairly thin-rimmed wheel which feels better than it looks. Aside from the Recaros, gearstick and a couple of ST badges it's standard Focus and none the worse for it. The driving environment would serve me equally well on a track day or a road trip to Scotland.

On the move it instantly shrinks around me - it actually feels smaller than my Mk2 Focus despite being bigger in every direction - and is a doddle to drive in traffic. All the controls are nicely weighted, the engine is docile and tractable, gearchange light and positive if a little loose across the gate.

We headed north from Winchester up the A33 towards Basingstoke - ALF will know the area - and turned right into the warren of back roads towards Alresford. Up until that point I'd learned that the ST is impeccably damped, reasonably refined (though there is some tyre roar) and - in the bottom two thirds of the rev range at least - shows little sign of being turbocharged. The 'piped in' engine noise is far less intrusive than I'd feared, and actually rather amusing.

Then we happened upon a 'proper' road: twists, turns, gradient, dumps, crests, adverse camber, the lot. I turned it up a bit, and the ST responded largely as I expected. There's a bit of tugging through the wheel under hard acceleration, but the roads were wet and cold and the electronics do a fine, unintrusive job of managing things without spoiling your fun or sending you towards a hedge.

It's very quick but not in the least intimidating. The steering is a little short of ultimate feel but otherwise very good: quick without being nervous, precise to the millimetre. The brakes are strong, with great feel through the pedal even at low speeds. It changes direction all of a piece, with the sense that front and rear are working in harmony - particularly impressive for a powerful front-driver - and its body control is just sublime.

Best of all, there's nothing deceptive about it. It does what you ask, communicates without shouting at you, entertains at sensible speeds, cossets when you need it to. Because I felt so connected to it, I always knew exactly how fast I was going - no dawdling along and glancing down at the speedo to find we were doing 100mph.

This all might sound a bit anodyne, but for me it's manna from heaven. I've owned enough cars that enthralled and infuriated in equal measure to know that I need an all-rounder. Something that will enthrall on demand while functioning as a workhorse for the other 90% of its life - without costing me an arm and a leg.

Ford's chassis designs major on damping and feel, which perfectly aligns with my driving priorities. For me, the Focus ST - looks notwithstanding - is a near-perfect performance car.
cbeaks1

Pm me if you are seriously considering one. The deals are strong at the moment.

I have an ST2 TDCi arriving next week and an ST 3 TDCi as a company car coming in March.
JohnC

Nice write up. Ford have been doing great suspension for as long as I can remember and it is a wonder they aren't copied more often by manufacturers who are criticised in this area.
Stuntman

I'd probably be tempted to take a comparison test drive or two - a Megane 265 (or 275 Trophy) and a Golf GTI would be two good alternative candidates to see whether they can add significantly to your overall driving equation.  I suspect the Focus is probably better value for money, though.
Eff One

Stuntman wrote:
I'd probably be tempted to take a comparison test drive or two - a Megane 265 (or 275 Trophy) and a Golf GTI would be two good alternative candidates to see whether they can add significantly to your overall driving equation.  I suspect the Focus is probably better value for money, though.


For this sort of money it would need to be a 5 door, which rules out the Megane (I think?). Golf GTi is the obvious alternative, but a friend has a GTD as a company car and hates it - endless problems with the adjustable suspension, and all sorts of weird nannying built into the control systems which can't be switched off (he's checked). That would drive me up the wall.

No, if it's to be anything, it will be a Ford. I could go down a step in size and budget, get a Fiesta ST and put up with 3 doors. Or maybe a Focus Zetec S which seems to have most of the ST's good bits.

I'm going to get some quotes and do some man maths. But I must be getting older and wiser, otherwise I'd have come out of the dealer with a signed order form this morning!

Great car  
JohnC

The new Drive the Deal website has some fantastic discounts at the moment and Ford have some attractive finance deals just now with extra discount.

However I am sure anything DTD can do cbeaks1 can too!
Martin

Sounds excellent.  It's a lot cheaper than the direct competition, so if you're comfortable with the looks and the interior, you should snap one up.
simonp

I think I'd go up to an ST2 for the xenons...
PhilD

Re: Ford Focus ST

Eff One wrote:

For me, the Focus ST - looks notwithstanding - is a near-perfect performance car.


The Estate, in the right colour and on the right wheels could be a bit of a Q car and a great all rounder.

http://www.evo.co.uk/ford/focus-st/15028/ford-focus-20-st-tdci-review
Giant

Re: Ford Focus ST

PhilD wrote:
Eff One wrote:

For me, the Focus ST - looks notwithstanding - is a near-perfect performance car.


The Estate, in the right colour and on the right wheels could be a bit of a Q car and a great all rounder.

http://www.evo.co.uk/ford/focus-st/15028/ford-focus-20-st-tdci-review


I saw a blue facelifted STestate last week, it looked great, other than the stupid shaped exhaust. I'd be changing that for a twin barrelled tail pipe asap!
Michael

I must admit I've looked at these myself as I've been exploring replacement options for mine. The estate would be a possibility.
One potential issue is the exhaust, I think I'm going to be needing a tow-bar soon .
gooner

cbeaks1 wrote:
Pm me if you are seriously considering one. The deals are strong at the moment.

I have an ST2 TDCi arriving next week and an ST 3 TDCi as a company car coming in March.


I didn't realise they did a diesel version, is it particularly powerful. If it's less than 200bhp I can't see it being particularly fitting with the ST ethos given that the petrol one has 250bhp.
JohnC

gooner wrote:
cbeaks1 wrote:
Pm me if you are seriously considering one. The deals are strong at the moment.

I have an ST2 TDCi arriving next week and an ST 3 TDCi as a company car coming in March.


I didn't realise they did a diesel version, is it particularly powerful. If it's less than 200bhp I can't see it being particularly fitting with the ST ethos given that the petrol one has 250bhp.


I think it is around 185hp but tons of torque will see it fair fly.
PhilD

JohnC wrote:
gooner wrote:
cbeaks1 wrote:
Pm me if you are seriously considering one. The deals are strong at the moment.

I have an ST2 TDCi arriving next week and an ST 3 TDCi as a company car coming in March.


I didn't realise they did a diesel version, is it particularly powerful. If it's less than 200bhp I can't see it being particularly fitting with the ST ethos given that the petrol one has 250bhp.


I think it is around 185hp but tons of torque will see it fair fly.


185bhp but almost 300 torques so will feel pretty quick.
cbeaks1

To 60 is a pretty slow 8.1 but the in gear stuff is very quick.

The residual is pretty strong so 2 year options is good value. Of interest to probably no one the monthly cost goes down if you choose the sat nav as the residual increase is greater than the cost. Also, last time I looked the monthly cost for an ST TDCi was less than a 1.5 TDCi Zetec.

There are a number of reviews up now, all positive, and what I assume is a advert piece on you tube where Sutcliffe thrashes one around a track.
cbeaks1

The petrol is a little more a month, but only 7 or 8 pounds.

For the type of driving we have to do the diesel makes more sense.

Also, according to the reviews it has been made to sound petrolly inside the cabin, which should be intriguing.
gooner

I may well stand corrected and it's certainly a good marketing move given that diesel versions of the Golf, Octavia and Leon sell in much higher numbers then their petrol equivalent. VW have done quite well out of rebranding their higher powered diesel Golf as GTD rather than it bring an engine option on the GT. I'd still prefer a petrol one if I wasn't paying for the fuel!
Eff One

Autocar reckon the ST TDCi is the real thing:
http://www.autocar.co.uk/car-revi...-ford-focus-20-tdci-185-st-review

It would still be the petrol for me, but that has a lot of appeal.
PG

simonp wrote:
I think I'd go up to an ST2 for the xenons...


Absolutely!
cbeaks1

You'd have to 3 for Xenons.
Roadrunner

Eff One wrote:
Autocar reckon the ST TDCi is the real thing:
http://www.autocar.co.uk/car-revi...-ford-focus-20-tdci-185-st-review

It would still be the petrol for me, but that has a lot of appeal.


I can only assume that Ford have made big changes to the engine, because every Ford diesel I have driven has been powered by a lump which would not be out of place in a dumper truck.
Eff One

cbeaks1 wrote:
You'd have to 3 for Xenons.


From the website it appears that the ST1 doesn't come with a heated windscreen - is that right? Seems a bit stingy.
PG

cbeaks1 wrote:
You'd have to 3 for Xenons.


I'm sure it is good for their manufacturing systems and margins, but I really dislike it when manufacturers make you go for a higher model to get an option that is simply not available on a lessor model. I suppose it works in that it forces everyone to go for the top model if they want certain FG.
cbeaks1

Eff One wrote:
cbeaks1 wrote:
You'd have to 3 for Xenons.


From the website it appears that the ST1 doesn't come with a heated windscreen - is that right? Seems a bit stingy.


Yes - and no options possible. No climate control either.

Hardly anyone takes one (though it is good value). So far stock and pipe of 22 out of pushing 1500 orders.
Dr. Hfuhruhurr

Blimey - imagine buying a Ford and not speccing the heated windscreen!

On topic, I was always put off the ST (and the Mk 3 Focus in general) in general by the ugly front and messy interior, but they've done a terrific job on the facelift. An ST estate in a dark colour would be a proper sleeper.
PhilD

Dr. Hfuhruhurr wrote:
Blimey - imagine buying a Ford and not speccing the heated windscreen!


I think I'd buy a Ford just for the heated windscreen.
Eff One

Dr. Hfuhruhurr wrote:
Blimey - imagine buying a Ford and not speccing the heated windscreen!


Quite. Even I wouldn't do that. If I take the plunge (not imminent) it will have to be an ST2. Hatchback in blue for me.
Alf McQueef

Interesting stuff F1... The C Max is - as the Evo reviews suggested - a genuinely entertaining steer, I love the steering, the brake feel, the keen turn-in and the balance of ride and handling. Ford do this so well, in a way so suited to UK roads (i.e. crap roads).

As a result I have been faintly interested in buying a Focus ST estate new, so your review is very interesting... I think I am too hung up on RWD and NA engines, but I would like to try one... I am also a bit too into my "exec" interiors, although my car is getting on a bit it still feels a class above the C Max inside. Even if the kit is worse!

PS I take that route every time I get a curry... Have you found the road from Overton to Kingsclere yet? It is a true epic, with one amazing section of non-stop bends and some nice really fast other stuff....
simonp

Well, if Ford are forcing me to buy an ST3 to get decent headlights, then I'll be off to look at a Golf GTI instead. At least I can still get a 3 door going that route, too.
Giant

simonp wrote:
Well, if Ford are forcing me to buy an ST3 to get decent headlights, then I'll be off to look at a Golf GTI instead. At least I can still get a 3 door going that route, too.


Or buy a Leon and get LEDs...
Andy C

Interesting thoughts.

The thing with even 'standard' fords is they're an absolute riot to drive in general, not just the hot versions

Other hatches, like the civic, Megane, Clio  are pretty poor to start with .

A dark coloured estate with the mountune kit would be a right laugh
simonp

Giant wrote:
simonp wrote:
Well, if Ford are forcing me to buy an ST3 to get decent headlights, then I'll be off to look at a Golf GTI instead. At least I can still get a 3 door going that route, too.


Or buy a Leon and get LEDs...


They're the reason I'm going to the VW shop!
cbeaks1

Do a lot of you live very rurally or drive at night a lot? I think Simon does nights?

I have no issue with Xenons but I'm not convinced they would ever be a deal breaker for me.

My mk 1 Golf had borderline dangerous headlights - this Focus not so much.
TreVoR

I wouldn't have another car without HID lights at the least. After the Subaru and Mercedes which both had them it is the one thing I really miss.

I can forgive the TVR as it is old but Nissan have no excuse for crap lights.
Michael

I miss the xenons from my Compact. The lights on the D3 are shit and they're really pissing me off at this time of year.
Roadsterstu

Try a V50 with ordinary headlight bulbs...
Eff One

The headlights on our previous-gen Fiesta are pretty mediocre and prone to dropping too low of their own accord. My Mk2 Focus is fine and I've never had any issues with anything more modern.
PG

cbeaks1 wrote:
Do a lot of you live very rurally or drive at night a lot? I think Simon does nights?

I have no issue with Xenons but I'm not convinced they would ever be a deal breaker for me.


But you are young with pin sharp eyesight  

Wait till you're old and decrepit and then you'll be bemoaning standard headlights.
gooner

michael wrote:
I miss the xenons from my Compact. The lights on the D3 are shit and they're really pissing me off at this time of year.


The Insignia has equally awful lights, whereas my Focus and Megane had much better lights. Perhaps the trouble comes with cars designed for Xenons.
JohnC

PG wrote:
cbeaks1 wrote:
Do a lot of you live very rurally or drive at night a lot? I think Simon does nights?

I have no issue with Xenons but I'm not convinced they would ever be a deal breaker for me.


But you are young with pin sharp eyesight  

Wait till you're old and decrepit and then you'll be bemoaning standard headlights.


My eyes used to be A1 and I could drive as fast, if not faster, at night with excellent vision even with crap headlights. When I hit 40 something started to change. I only need glasses for reading but I have noticed that I get dazzled by headlights more easily and dislike periods of being stuck on dipped lights with oncoming traffic when I am trying to make progress.

Xenons are a big help. In another 30 years I might need something that looks like a 1970's rally car on a night stage.
simonp

↑ That. I'm in my late forties now and don't find driving at night tooo bad unless it's raining, then I'm like Mr Magoo. I am finding that halogen headlamps going the other way really reflect back off the wet road surface and totally wash out the weak light from my LED lamps. This means that I can see where the cars going the opposite way are going, but not where I am! I never had this issue with xenons.

In fact, I was driving along an unlit road the other day and could see there were some nicely powerful headlamps about to round the corner. I was suitably jealous and then experienced a pang of regret when I saw they belonged to a xenon equipped mk5 Golf.

Frank Bullitt

The headlights on the DS4 are fine even with non upgraded bulbs, the Picasso was also excellent. The A2 has shit headlights and they need upgrading to Osram's et-al which makes them less-shit. I've had Audi's the Xenon's and I do like them a great deal but although they make the light more pleasent I'm not sure the absolute illumination feels much better to be honest.

When I'm old, like most of you, I will probably notice it more  
PG

The stupid thing is that it is possible to design very good halogen lights. And they must all come from only a few suppliers.

Our Shogun uses H7 bulbs in a projector light for dip, and even on the standard bulbs they are really good. Yes, the height might make a difference but it cannot make that much.

Whereas the Jag XF, also on H7 projector dipped beam were crap. With Osram bulbs they were better but still worse than the standard Shogun lights.

Worst lights I ever had were on a Calibra. Two candles would have given out more light.
Martin

The adaptive Xenons in the Boxster are excellent and have a supplementary Halogen high beam so are incredibly bright when everything is lit up.  The MINI had a single Xenon bulb, so was very good on dipped beam, but main beam wasn't as impressive.

The 535d is about as bright as the Boxster on main beam, but the witchcraft function means it's much better most of the time.
Alf McQueef

My eyes have started on the same route as JohnC's!

The reflector size/design, bulbs, and height all make a big difference with standard halogens. The Golf Plus and the C Max - with big reflectors and lights well off the ground - are both better on standard bulbs than the 3 series with "+100%" bulbs, though the 3 series is way better than the 156 which was awful in the light department, raising to acceptable with better bulbs.

How much more would it cost an OEM to fit "+100%" bulbs as standard? Or do some?

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