Ford Focus ST 2020 long-term review

Well, I’m clearly not going to be getting any of that here. But I guess if you’re going for an outrageous colour, you might as well go the whole way, and it might as well be on a fast Ford. Needless to say, however, this was not a colour I chose – it just came that way. Indeed, I had no choice in the spec at all other than to insist the car came with petrol rather than diesel power, hatchback rather than estate bodywork and manual instead of automatic gears.

So when it turned up and I started to push and prod about, I was startled by the amount of goodies and gadgets that had been loaded onto it, everything from radar-controlled cruise control to a heated steering wheel. Ford press cars used to be known by journalists as ‘Bob Wright Specials’ thanks to aforementioned (and quite brilliant) Ford press fleet man’s predilection for loading his cars with every available option, so I thought this ST might be some kind of tribute act to the recently retired Bob. But no: it’s all standard.

I’ll talk more about this at greater length a little bit further down the line. In the meantime, be advised that, orange ‘Fury’ paint aside, the only actual options this car carries are a wireless charging pad and Ford’s Performance pack, which provides launch control, a track mode, rev-matched downshift and an upshift indicator, all for a piffling £250. The car had only done 150 miles by the time it arrived, almost all accrued on its way from Ford’s UK head office in Essex to my home in the Welsh borders, so it will be a while before I get to drive it in the way I suspect it will shortly beg to be driven. And I’m fascinated by the powertrain.

The engine is a four-cylinder unit, but sourced from America where it’s more usually found in the entry-level Mustang. Its 276bhp output sounds rather modest, particularly when you consider its 2.3-litre capacity – remember Mercedes is now blasting way more than 400bhp from just 2.0 litres – but the devil appears to be in the detail.

A low-inertia twin-scroll turbo promises rapid response and more torque than some far more powerful competitors, including the Honda Civic Type R, the Mercedes-AMG A35 and the Volkswagen Golf R. It also has a form of anti-lag technology on it, where the airflow into the engine can be held open for up to three seconds after the driver lifts off, meaning the turbo compressor wheel is not slowed. And then there’s the differential, which is effectively an e-diff: open most of the time as you would want, but capable of locking up and sending half the power to each front wheel to maximise traction.

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