We take a look at the most recent special-edition quick Ford Focus to search out out if the ST Version lives as much as its predecessors’ reputations.
Evaluate from Quick Ford journal. Phrases: Alex Sullivan. Pictures: Jason Dodd.
Ford has developed one thing of a behavior of releasing limited-number particular editions of its sporty machines, normally as a remaining swansong earlier than the subsequent model or facelifted mannequin is because of arrive.
Within the case of the Mk4 Ford Focus ST Version, it was as a final hurrah earlier than the new-look Mk4.5 (because it’s already been dubbed by followers) arrives this yr.
We’ve at all times been keen on a quick Focus, and we’ve been capable of take pleasure in every incarnation of the ST because it’s bought higher and faster. So when photographer Jason had a brand-new Focus ST Version at his disposal – courtesy of Haynes of Maidstone – we had been eager to see what it was like.
The common Mk4 ST was a noticeable step on from the Mk3 Focus. The experience was supplied higher damping, and torque-steer appeared to have been largely banished. The additional 25bhp was instantly noticeable, as was the rise in torque. We preferred it so much.
Actually, trying again, the one gripes had been with the placement of some buttons within the cabin and its somewhat Eurobox styling.
After studying that the Ford Focus ST Version junked the adaptive damper configuration of the common ST in favour of a manually-adjustable set from KW Automotive, we had been a bit involved that the Mk4’s accommodating experience would endure. However after only a few miles behind the wheel, our fears proved unfounded.
Our take a look at automotive was provided in an optimised street setting, with the coilovers providing adjustment by way of 12 bump and 16 rebound settings. It’s agency, in fact, however the management and hushed potential to cope with the floor reeks of sophistication. If ever there’s any doubt about the place cash is finest spent when seeking to enhance a automotive, the Version serves as an important reminder that the reply is almost at all times the suspension.
Sitting 10mm decrease than a daily ST, and with an extra 20mm adjustment doable, the coilovers have been mated to a spring price that’s up 50 per cent over the non-edition. The result’s a automotive with severe turn-in, a exceptional lack of physique roll and the power to deploy all its energy more often than not.
Ford provides the ST Version with a technical information suggesting quite a lot of settings for various driving eventualities. Sadly, we had neither the time – or a ramp at our disposal – to fiddle, however there’s particular attraction in having the ability to tighten issues up in preparation for a observe day or slacken them proper off earlier than a motorway marathon.
Externally, the Ford Focus ST Version is distinguished by its Azure Blue paint, which, as with the Fiesta, isn’t accessible on the cooking fashions. The blue is complimented by a black roof, gloss black trim and 19in light-weight flow-formed wheels, which assist scale back unsprung mass and help with the full of life and alert driving expertise. Some will lament that it’s not a bit extra aggressive visually, however these within the know will know, and that’s arguably cooler.
On the within, the acquainted Recaro seats really feel a bit extra cosy than earlier than (blame the odd further kilo on the motive force’s half), however the further girth of the steering wheel is all Ford’s nourishment – and it might do with slimming down. We get that chunkiness instils a way of high quality, but it surely does hinder really feel. The Mk3 Focus steering wheel was a lot nicer and wasn’t burdened with 20 buttons, which look messy and are more durable to function on the hoof.
The remainder of the inside is essentially like another present Focus earlier than the just-launched refresh. It features a customisable digital instrument cluster and this instance has a heads-up show. You is probably not eager on these – notably once they utilise a distinguished piece of projecting plastic on high of the sprint – but it surely’s efficient sufficient and the street pace restrict reminder is definitely helpful.
The query to ask is whether or not the Version is price the additional over the already very competent customary ST. Now solely accessible used, a fast scan on Auto Dealer reveals simply two on the market in the meanwhile, priced at £34,000 and £36,700. So, about the identical as a brand-new facelifted Focus ST.
The reply will depend on the way you’ll use the automotive and what premium you place on exclusivity. The adjustable suspension provides the Version a probably a lot broader vary from comfortable cruiser to track-day weapon, however this does come on the expense of comfort; spannering the dampers is just not the work of some minutes and gained’t be for everybody. For these of us who don’t like tinkering, the ST’s adaptive association, which will be slackened or made taut on the contact of a button, in all probability provides a extra wise compromise.
However the Ford Focus ST Version is one thing else too. It’s the closest factor to date to a Mk4 RS, one thing we sadly gained’t ever see, and whereas it doesn’t include any extra energy than an ST, it has a chassis able to absorbing a severe bhp improve.
This limited-numbers Ford Focus ST Version – with its distinctive paint, strong residuals and selection upgrades – could possibly be not solely the most effective Mk4 but, however one of the succesful Focuses ever to take to the street.