Review: Ford Focus ST

The Ford Focus ST cockpit features Recaro front seats.
The Ford Focus ST cockpit features Recaro front seats.
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When you connect your phone to the Bluetooth receiver in the Ford Focus ST “it” tells you not to be distracted by notifications displayed on the screen.

Fair point and wise. It is too easy to get involved in the phone call or text message at the expense of driving concentration.

This is Ford’s quickest family car. The 276bhp four-cylinder 2.3 turbocharged petrol engine helps it get from 0 to 62mph in 5.7 seconds. Hot versions of the Honda Civic, Renault Megane, SEAT Leon and Volkswagen Golf give it a run for its money but frankly this is the stuff of erudite waffling in some media and, indeed, in the Camshaft Arms & Sporran.

Regulars will barely touch their pint until they know whether the Focus is the boss. Well, the only place you’ll eliminate the losers is on a race track or closed roads. There was a time I bothered about such distinctions but now all the contenders are much more powerful and the roads are busier and I don’t care to pay fines because I come out of a corner at a speed which is caught by a camera half a mile down the road.

So the simple one-touch button which registers each speed limit as you pass the relevant sign is helpful. You still need to brake down to it but then you’ll get a warning if you go past the pedal resistance.

One proviso: it does not hold you back going downhill – whereas cruise control will do so.

Fast cars need grip, secure handling, balance, and excellent brakes if you need to slow down quickly. There is an argument that if you are driving properly then you shouldn’t have to scrub off too much speed. One tries.

Most of the time that is how I drove the ST. The engine’s flexibility makes it a relaxing drive, with enough pace to overtake without banging down through the six-speed gearbox. This gear change feel is sprung away from the first to second plane and muggins here often selected third when setting off: sorry clutch.

I don’t take any responsibility other than excessive zeal for the wheel tramp under fierce acceleration in the lower gears. This was a surprise because the ST has a sophisticated electronic differential to cope with the torque going to the front wheels.

This interference can happen on a straight road or coming out of tight bends. I also noted constant tyre hum on some surfaces from the fat and low Michelins.

Gongs include Hot Hatch of 2019 in the Top Gear awards and Scottish Hot Hatch of the year.

Verdict: A charmer. Police forces are evaluating the 155mph estate version.