Ford ST Focus - Sunday Life 31/05/15 | Saltmarine

Ford ST Focus - Sunday Life 31/05/15

MA'ST'ERPIECE

Fast Lane - Sunday Life - Paul Connelly, Motoring Correspondent.

Nothing in life is absolutely perfect, nothing man-made anyway. But some things can come pretty close.

Take the Ford Focus ST, for example. It's a car with a history that has been far from perfect.

But the latest revisions have drawn it together in a way that is, maybe not perfect but is pretty sublime.

Why? Because in my opinion it ticks all the boxes. Looks? Check. Power? Check. Fuel efficiency, driving experience, technology. Check, check and check again.

The Focus ST is a car of evolutions. It's had several over the years, with Ford continually refining the car into the modern day, very desirable hot hatch that it is. It now comes in both diesel and petrol models, and as a rival to the mighty Golf GTI/GTD, it gives the Volkswagen a serious run for its money.

CHOICE

The latest generation, the third, has recently been refreshed and it's this latest iteration that scores so many extra points adding as it does better fuel efficiency, some design improvements and a proper diesel choice.

Thanks to the good folks at Saltmarine, I've driven within a short period of time both the petrol and the diesel variants (no, in case you're wondering, the diesel isn't badged the Focus STD!) and I can testify that these are very warm hatches indeed.

Next year Ford will slot in a full-blooded hot hatch on top of the range, the Focus RS, which will by all accounts be a raw and edgy flying machine. This means the ST sits very nicely within a Focus line-up that will be complete at both the top and bottom of the range.

It was the diesel ST that really caught my attention. It's a beautiful drive: composed, refined, fast and mannerly. Acceleration is rapid but smooth; the manual-only six speed gearbox is slick and precise.

Even on the bumpy B-roads of Co Antrim, the suspension coped with aplomb; bumps are treated with firmness but also with respect. It's a deliciously sporty ride, exhilarating but never uncomfortable.

Under the bonnet, the diesel is a 2.0TCDi unit pumping out 185PS, with a top speed of 135 mph and a 0-62mph time of 8.1 seconds.

The petrol is pokier but far thirstier: the 2.0-litre Ecoboost powerplant delivers 250PS and will get you to 62mph in 6.5 seconds, going on to a maximum speed of 154mph. Far from being a bad thing, this disparity in performance adds choice to the range: you get to choose between the bad boy petrol for speed or the rather more refined diesel for efficiency.

STARTLING

And the efficiency difference really is quite startling. The petrol version will give you some 41 mpg on the combined cycle, according to the official figures. The diesel on the other hand delivers 67mpg, which makes it the most efficient and cleanest Ford performance car yet. Prices start at the £22,000 mark and there are three trim levels, rather unimaginatively labelled ST1, ST2 and ST3 and two bodystyles – five-door and estate.

As you'd expect, the ST benefits from a good deal of technology, and you'd probably want to trade up to the Ford SYNC 2 connectivity system which links your mobile phone, sat nav and the rest to an 8-inch colour touchscreen. There are a raft of safety and driving assists, but the bottom line is that this is a driver-focused car of real accomplishment.

- The Ford Focus ST diesel and petrol models are available from Saltmarine (www.saltmarine.com)