The latest Focus ST, which you can learn more about in this news article, is no different. So, after learning that Ford Batley, in West Yorkshire, had a new one in their showroom, we thought it would be rude not to pay a visit and see what all the fuss is about. Here's our first impressions.
It looks subtleThis is the one thing that we suspect might cause the most divide among fans and potential owners, because the new Focus ST is a subtle hot hatch indeed. One argument would suggest that a hot hatch should have machine guns poking out the bonnet; and it should have a massive rear wing that Boeing themselves are eyeing up. On the other hand, the other argument would suggest that those kind of features are, well, ridiculous, and that a modern hot hatch should be monster lurking in the shadows.
We're going to be very diplomatic here and say that both arguments are valid. And, at the risk of being branded unbearably cliche, we would say the new Focus ST is the best of both worlds. Make no mistake, the loud body colours, raucous exhaust note, large alloy wheels, and huge front brakes aren't fooling anyone into thinking this is your average family hatchback. Yet, Ford have managed to package it in a stylish body shape that won't make your elders vomit as you drive-by. Bravo.
The Recaro Seats are outstandingFord and Recaro; there's a partnership that seems to span over multiple generations. Your grandparents may recall the encapsulating nature of the Recaro seats in their Capri, but now you can indulge in that same feeling thanks to the brilliant seats fitted to the new Focus ST.
It's impossible not to notice just how much support these seats offer. There is a chunky bolstering, that wears the 'Recaro' logo in white stitching, which we can't imagine will allow you to move an inch during some enthusiastic driving through the twisty stuff. On top of that, the seats boast acres of adjustment, which means you can get yourself nice and low down in the cabin for that ultimate driving experience.
The exhaust system is just rightThe Ford Focus ST is a performance car. In other news, water is wet and the sky is blue. The point here is that performance cars can be guilty of having exhaust systems that are either too muted or too loud; well your neighbor may not approve of the latter, but we personally love a sonorous exhaust note.
The new Focus ST seems to strike a very fine balance between motoring enjoyment and not being a delinquent. Start-up brings a lovely deep rumble that soon settles down into a mellow metallic hum. Blip the throttle and you'll soon be grinning, because it lets off a distinctive crackle as it climbs the rev-range and drops back down to idle. Oh, and you'll be pleased to know that a few pops from the exhaust were present, but without being artificial or overdone.
Big Wheels + Big Brakes = Big SmileFord have decided to give the Focus ST their critically-acclaimed 2.3-litre turbocharged EcoBoost engine, which is actually a reworked version of the one found in the non-GT Mustang. The result of this is 280bhp and a monstrous 310lb ft! As you can imagine then, ditch finder tyres made from melted down Barbie dolls isn't going to cut it.
Ford have teamed up with French tyre giants Michelin and decided to make the Pilot Sport 4, a grippy performance tyre, the standard fit on the new Focus ST's alloy wheels (19" on the car photographed). On top of that, they've put massive 330mm brakes behind the front wheels and painted the calipers red. This combination looks the business and certainly gives the impression this car will help deliver jaw-aching smiles for many hours.
Initial reviews from the major automotive magazines are in as some of you may have seen; and it comes as no great surprise to see that the new Focus ST has scored high marks across the board. Keep an eye on our blog section in the coming weeks as we take the ST for a spin and uncover more of what makes it one of the best in its class.