Sometimes a lot of fun can be had with relatively little money. The new Focus ST takes this idea and multiplies it by ten. It is, at £21,995 for the base model, one of the most enjoyable experiences to be had on the road for the price.
The new ST comes fully kitted out with everything you would want in a hot hatch or weekend track day car, while being totally drivable in a day-to-day way. You get a turbocharged 2-litre engine, six speed transmission, five doors, a big boot and 247 horsepower to play with.
On the outside, Ford has redesigned things slightly. The bodywork appears lower, slicker and gives an even more sportier look to the car without being tacky. Little touches like the ST logo mounted on the new-look front grille and the colour-matched Recaro seats keep the whole package looking premium.
Inside there are all the usual Ford touches. The car is fully loaded with as much gadgetry as Ford can possibly pack in. This means sat nav, a Sony stereo, keyless ignition and a rather cool set of dash-mounted gauges, including one for turbo pressure. More cars should have a turbo pressure gauge. It might not add much to the usability of the car, but it's fun to see dials flipping out under speed. There is also the usual handy iPod connector which will charge and let you playback audio from your iPhone or iPod.
The ST comes in three forms: the ST, ST-2 and ST-3. The base model comes without clever touches like auto on/off headlights, optional cruise control or optional lane and parking sensors. Trim quality jumps up each model with the ST-3 featuring leather seats.
One particularly cool touch is the way it can pump engine sounds into the cabin. Using what's called an Active Sound Symposer sytem, you basically get to enjoy the sound of the ST's rather nuts turbo when you put your foot down.
All in all, quite a package from Ford, and one aimed straight at the likes of the Vauxhall Astra VXR. So which to go for? Check back soon when we will have a full review.
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