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New Ford Focus hot-hatch has the Winning ST-REAK

CarsBy Robbie Farrell
The new Ford Focus ST-02 is fast and furious
The new Ford Focus ST-02 is fast and furious

Test Drive - Ford Focus ST and ST Diesel

The slagging was fierce last week when our colleague, and my fellow Motormouth, Paul, informed us that he had picked up an ST-D.

Thankfully, it didn’t require a trip to any medical clinic – it was just the new diesel version of the new Ford Focus ST – the ST2.

The Focus ST is one of the company’s high-performance versions of the popular family hatch. I say one of them, as Ford will reintroduce its famous RS nametag next year when a 350bhp four-wheel drive version of the Focus appears on our shores.

It’s capable of hitting 100kph in just 4.7 seconds and tops out at 265kph if you can find an unused landing strip somewhere. 

It is faster than both the crazy Civic Type R and BMW’s M135i beast, but just stops short of Audi’s amazing RS3.

But for now, while we await its arrival, there is a cheaper alternative from the blue oval badge in the shape of the Focus ST2 and ST2 diesel.

Last week, I got behind the wheel of the Focus ST2, while my colleague Paul, got his hands on its diesel sibling. For the purest of petrolheads, the diesel may seem somewhat blasphemous in the motoring world. 

Many will tell that you that they would never choose a fast diesel over a fast petrol, and we would have to agree.

However, Ford decided to get in on the act following the likes of Volkswagen and its GTD version of the famous GTi badge, and what a job it has done.

On the outside, both cars are identical. There’s no way of telling the difference between the two in the looks department (see his-and-hers picture), until you fire them both up that is.

They both feature the Focus’s updated good looks albeit with body kits to match the Volkswagen Golf’s stylish exterior and we would even go as far to say that it is even more aggressive looking.

On the inside, you will find figure-hugging Recaro bucket seats with ST stitching, aluminium pedals, ST gearknob and sporty gauges in the middle of the dash for turbocharger, oil pressure and temperature – a real rally-car resemblance.

The good news is that both the petrol and diesel engines deliver ST performance but with everyday practicality and lower fuel efficiency. This means that you can drive either ST2 like a pussycat around town or turn it in to a beast if you are heavy footed. 

Both models have benefit from tweaks from the Ford motor team including, new chassis technologies, tuned suspension and steering, and bespoke tyre specification.

 

ST2 Petrol:

As a petrolhead, the Focus ST petrol is the pick of the two for me. Maybe I am just old school, but fast diesels just don’t do it for me and I would never pick a GTD or ST2 diesel over a petrol version.

The proof is in the pudding. My 2.0-litre EcoBoost ST2 petrol delivers 0-100 km/h in 6.5 seconds, fuel consumption of 6.8l /100 km, and 159 g/km CO2 – putting it in to tax band D (€570 per annum).

It comes with Ford’s auto-start-stop for the first time that improves the EcoBoost version’s fuel economy by six per cent which helps to make it the most fuel-efficient petrol Focus ST ever.

On the road, the ST petrol was brilliant to drive. You can potter around town as if you were driving a normal family hatch, or burn the boy racers at the lights with if you fancy putting the pedal to the metal.

The handling is superb, although I felt it still just falls short of the VW Golf GTi. If I am to be perfectly honest I still prefer the Fiesta ST for all-round handling.

ST Diesel:

Petrol has run through my veins ever since I covered my bedroom walls with pictures of Lambos and Ferraris.

My chequered car history has included quite a few hot hatches, and still to this day, they are my favourite car. My colleague Robbie may have joked that mines is faster than yours last week, but truth be told, I was more than happy with my oil-burning hot hatch.

There are very few hot hatches that offer diesel power, and the Focus ST diesel and Golf GTD are the best at what they do. 

For me though, if it’s a Golf, I’m going for the GTi as the GTD is just too expensive and I love the characteristics of the GTi, but strangely, in Focus form, it’s diesel for me, thanks.

And here’s the reason. My weekly commute, with social outing in between sees me cover more than 1,000kms a week.

So, with a range of nearly 700kms in the Focus ST diesel I was able to enjoy performance with economy. The diesel is well down on horsepower over the petrol, with only 182 horses, but it has a massive 400Nm of torque which gives serious in-gear performance.

It handles superbly and I don’t think I needed the extra 60 thoroughbreds from the petrol ST to really get the thrills you expect from a hot hatch.

The diesel-powered ST will get you to 100kph in 8.2seconds and on to a top speed of 217kph. But power aside, the diesel offers great economy and running costs. It falls into tax band A3 €190 and has a claimed fuel consumption of 4.2l/100kms

Even though it’s a diesel, Ford has even engineered in a sound simulator that pumps in engine noise through the speakers, making it sound like its petrol sibling.

With the looks, feel and gutsy performance, I’m a diesel hot hatch convert this time. My petrolhead colleague can keep his gas guzzler, I’m happy with my ST-D.

Prices for the Focus ST2 are a little on the high side starting at €39,100 and €39,800 for the ST2 diesel.

There is not a massive options list available so standard equipment is fairly high.

Although the ST2 is an amazing car, we are both agreed that we would still have the Fiesta ST over it for the sheer fun factor.

Robbie Farrell & Paul Keown