CAR OF THE WEEK
BY BRIAN BYRNE
THE standard Focus has always been a family car. A popular and successful one for Ford through the nameplate’s multi-generational history. Doing what a family car should do, carry parents and children through their daily motoring needs in comfort, safety, and reliability.
But of course, sometimes drivers, even family drivers, want a little more than that. And Ford as a brand has always facilitated this by providing more sporty versions of their bread-and-butter models.
ST has been the suffix long used for a number of these. RS is the next step up, but rather more powerful than a family car would need to offer.
The ST version of the latest Focus has been with us since the middle of last year, and moves the model version significantly on in a number of areas.
Building on the already good looks of the Focus, the visual upgrades are particularly on the front, with a dedicated main grille and a high-gloss black finish to the lower grille. The ST badging is discreet but stands out in the performance red colour.
The 18-inch alloys are also a standout design for the ST. The car is also lower than the standard. There are ST colours designed to flash the eyeballs.
Inside there’s mainly detail additions to the otherwise normal Focus interior. But they give a black headliner — somehow, black and sporty have become merged — and Recaro seats with deep side bolsters and their own ST badge. There’s ST badging on the lower part of the steering wheel, and on the aluminium and leather top to the gear shifter. None in your face, but there.
There are no special gauges in a dashtop pod, but it’s doubtful that any of recent sporty Ford owners every bothered to look at what they were saying. It’s all about the connectivity these days, and that’s taken care of by the centre screen. Arguably still with the best current graphics in the game.
There’s a distinct lack of flashy controls, but instead buttons set into the steering wheel for the usual functions, and the Mode one for choosing which is one’s driving style of the mood. Inventing our own acronym generator, let’s call it Fun Factor Choice, which goes from Normal to Track.
The bits that make the FFC happen are a 280hp version of Ford’s 2.3 EcoBoost petrol powerhouse, which provides the ooomph for a 5.4s sprint to 100km/h. There are enough electronic assists to achieve that without the car bucking or going wild in any way.
On the move, the electronically-controlled suspension copes with any attitude shifting that road configuration and speed demands.
All without fuss, though you can get a fairly noisy sport sound from the engine if you wish.
And, that brings me to the real advantage of this ST Focus. It can be all FFC, or it can be very amiable family car transportation of said family. The only difference is a slightly firmer ride in normal use, but nothing that even hints at uncomfortable.
That made it a doddle in my week for the local driving chores, with a little FFC taken when on my own in suitable places.
Fun comes at a cost, whatever the fun is. The review car was almost twice the cost of an entry level Focus. Making it really for the AFD, After Family Driver.
Well, carmakers seem to love acronyms, so there are two new ones for free …
What I liked: Ford still producing something for everyone, even in niches.
Pricing: From €41,099; review car with options €44,729.