Driving report: Ford Focus ST. Sensibly sporty

Visually, the revision can only be recognized at second glance. Here are wearing the face-lifted Ford Focus ST has a sharpened front design, imposing sills and optional "stealth" gray paint, similar to the camouflage bombers of the same name, as well as matching, centrally positioned double exhaust ports of huge caliber. In addition, there is a thoroughly tidy cockpit in the interior.

Completely new and unfamiliar is the first heartbeat in the refreshed Focus. Assuming that the 136 kW / 185 PS diesel engine now offered in the ST will be put under load. Then the 2,0-liter TDCI sings a rich auto-ignition sound, which is amplified via a generator in the cockpit, while up to 400 Nm of torque pull on the front wheels. As an alternative to this 4,2 liter consuming oil miser, the 184 kW / 250 PS is still strong and almost 250 km / h fast Ecoboost gasoline engine. All this as in two body shapes as a five-door sedan or as a Kombiversion tournament.

The starting price for the Focus ST, which will be available in German retail from February, has increased by at least 900 euros. At least 28.850 Euro calculated by Ford now for the Ecoboost sedan, the diesel 29.650 Euro. The tournament costs 950 Euro more each. Despite the inflation, the 250-PS tournament and the sedan for performance fetishists are real bargains, but no competitor in these body shapes offers more horsepower per euro. But the Focus ST with lower-horsepower diesel is also one of the most affordable compact-class offers in the rapidly growing field of sporty biedermans with a self-igniting bite.

Since 1997, the ST logo has stood for “Sports Technologies”, while the RS label (“Rallye Sport”) symbolizes the performance time and is emblazoned again this year on a focus (then with a 300-hp four-cylinder from the Mustang). The role of the everyday Kraftmeier remains reserved for the Focus ST, which competes against a good half a dozen competitors. These include the Golf GTI relatives Skoda Octavia RS and Seat Leon Cupra, but also the Opel Astra OPC and Renault Sport Mégane coupes, or the slightly less powerful one Peugeot 308 GT.

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The many competitors are for Ford occasion to spend the ST a thorough update that goes beyond the model care already given all focus. For example, the headlamps are not only slimmer cut, but optionally mitigating for the first time. Whereby light angle and also luminous intensity are adaptively controlled. The assistance systems now also feature optional Warner before cross traffic, which is useful not only for backward parking. The emergency brake system Active City Stop System now works up to 50 km / h.

The optional connectivity system Sync2 offers greater ease of use, as it allows the control of a music program, smartphone or the adjustment of the air conditioning system using simple voice commands. Some competitors still have some catching up to do. Finally, Ford has also taken on rivals and finally installed a touch screen monitor in user-friendly size (eight inches). Its control panel replaces the previous sea of ​​buttons in the cockpit.

Our test area is the mountains above Barcelona. Challenging routes with blind crests, corkscrew curves, lines for intermediate sprints and changing road surfaces. Until Tempo 100 pass in the gasoline engine no 6,5 seconds, Ford promises. Sounds plausible, the feeling suggests even shorter Sprintwerte, so vehemently pulls and tugs the Focus on the front wheels. The riders, who are even faster in the real world, such as the Golf GTI Performance or the Leon Cupra, take on a significantly more relaxed ride. Still too long are the switching distances of the otherwise precisely working six-speed box in focus. This also applies to the new Focus ST Diesel, which boasts 8,1 seconds sprint time and 217 km / h top. For Ford drivers who want to drive in advance, these are unfortunately unsatisfactory values. After all, all TDI competitors from the VW Group are significantly faster and yet just as economical in consumption.

On the other hand, driving fun in everyday car life is clearly more important than chasing lap records. And the Focus is already a pleasure thanks to its formidable suspension set-up, which shows its best form on the Catalan mountain roads and bumpy routes without the exaggerated tightness of some rivals. There is a lot of load when braking in downhill hairpins on the front wheels, which then triggers slight understeer of the Focus. The rear part of the five-door gets nervous, but gently captured by the electronics. This even if the ESP works in the sharper switched sport mode, ie without engine torque control and longitudinal stability system. Amazing is always anew, how quickly the compact Cologne can throw around the curves.

Fun is guaranteed with all Focus ST. With the petrol engine but significantly more than with the diesel.

Author: Wolfram Nickel / SP-X

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