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Ford Focus ST

Broadcast date : 21st May 2006

What do we have here? A new cruise missile, courtesy of Ford Motor Company.

Thereís nothing very subtle about the Ford Focus ST, which could well stand for Super Toy. 

It has all the latest go-faster goodies scattered around the bodywork, such as mesh intake guards, shrouded spotlights, in-your-face alloy wheels, deep side-skirts, twin tail-pipes and a roof wing. Fancy a dice?

Fortunately the power train delivers on that exterior promise. 

Essentially the Volvo T5 five-cylinder turbo engine, with plenty of grunt and a glorious exhaust note, the Focus ST stands back for no hot hatch. Itís pretty good behind the wheel too, but with some stylistic reservations.

When youíre driving the Focus ST, those interior misgivings fade into the background. This is the new hot-hatch benchmark, with a 0-100 of 7,5 seconds, as tested by Car Magazine.

That shades the 7,7 second effort for the Golf GTi, and when it comes to top end, the Focus simply stomps on the Golf, running on to a 237 km/h top whack.

An extra cylinder and 500 extra cc's over its typical two-litre turbo hatch competition makes the ST superior where it really counts, and thatís in overtaking acceleration.

The 320 Newton Metre torque curve is as flat as Table Mountain, and the Ford-badged motor only runs out of steam at 7000 rpm, which adds a mega excitement factor to its lazy-boy lugging ability.

And the chassis offers a driving experience to match the speed. To complement the fine suspension set-up, the body shell feels as if itís hewn from tungsten steel. The car imparts an amazing amount of confidence to the driver, both in terms of its handling and its ability to hang together from a reliability point of view.

You can lug along in sixth all day thanks to the torque, but the carís sheer charisma doesnít encourage that.

The Ford Focus ST simply begs you to play around with the gearbox, because itís such a slick-shifting journey through the six forward speeds.

Five cylinders and turbocharging extracts a penalty. While Car Magazine returned 11,4 litres per hundred, we experienced a fuel appetite approaching addictive levels.

We averaged around 15 litres per hundred with the Focus, and with a 55 litre tank, youíll be making a nuisance of yourself at the unleaded pumps.

As for the looks that Hendrik didnít fully embrace, we feel they are fine for now, when Ford really needs to re-establish its once proud performance heritage.

Ford Focus ST
  •  Engine: Five-cylinder petrol turbo, 2 522 cc
  •  Power: 166 kW @ 6 000 rpm
  •  Torque: 320 Nm @ 1 600 rpm
  •  Transmission: Six-speed manual, front-wheel-drive
  •  0-100 km/h: 6,8 seconds
  •  Top speed: 240 km/h
  •  Fuel consumption: 15 litres/100 km (estimated)
  •  Price: R250 000
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