Ford Focus ST

I wasn’t that taken with the previous generation of fast Focus. Indeed, I appeared to be in a minority who regarded the most recent Focus RS as something of a disappointment. Too heavy at the kerb, too artificial at the helm. Its handling felt synthesised rather than natural, and designed to disguise the inescapable fact that it weighed too much.

And cooking versions of the current Focus have been hugely influenced by the two rear suspension systems available. Cheap versions have a torsion beam rear end with deleterious effects on ride and handling, while ritzier models have multi-link rear axles and carry on the fine work of the original Focus, which redefined the way family hatches drove over 20 years ago.

I’m pleased to report this new Focus ST – the first new sporting version – shows Ford has found its sureness of touch once more. Its 2.3-litre turbo motor develops 276bhp, which is close to the sensible limit for a front drive car, and comes with bespoke front and rear suspension settings, an electronic limited-slip diff and all the usual refinements.

The engine is the smoothest and best- sounding in the class, the suspension offers acceptable comfort and superb accuracy and confidence even when driven fast. The steering response still has something of the arcade about it, but it’s not a deal breaker. It’s as good as anything in this class.

Andrew Frankel

Ford Focus ST

Price £31,995
Engine 2.3-litres, 4 cylinders, turbo
Power 276bhp
Weight 1468kg
Power to weight 188bhp per tonne
Transmission Six-speed manual, front-wheel drive
0-60mph 5.7sec
Top speed 155mph
Economy 34.4mpg
CO2 179g/km
Verdict The hot Focus is back on form

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