When the current Ford Focus ST landed on South African shores in 2012, it served as the most budget-friendly offering in the C-segment hot hatchback ambit. At that time, the basic ST1 version started off at little over the R300 000 mark with the more generously equipped ST3 costing around R50 000 more.
Ample performance, keen pricing and impressive standard specification gave it an edge over the evergreen Volkswagen Golf GTI – then in its sixth generation. But as you know, the German counterpart has since progressed into iteration number seven. And what a lauded package that is. Hoping to claw back relevance in the segment, Ford is releasing the newest version of their Focus ST on local shores this week. We are off to KwaZulu-Natal today to sample it.
Those changes might seem subtle, notably the adoption of the same aesthetic upgrades that were rolled out onto the standard Focus earlier this year. But there are tweaks under the skin too. For starters, it is purportedly more rigid. Front-end body stiffness is said to have been increased, thanks to thicker structural brackets and a stronger metal arc welding technique.
The suspension features all-new springs and revised shock absorber tuning, plus stiffer bushes on the front lower control arms and rear spring links. In addition, Ford’s Electronic Torque Vectoring control has been revised, promising better traction through the corners – and less waywardness than before. This is something we will have the chance to test, given that our drive will consist mostly of track time at Dezzi Raceway.
Power remains the same. The ST still employs a two-litre, four-cylinder engine producing 184kW and 360Nm of torque. Which helps the car from standstill to 100km/h in 6.5 seconds. There is still only one transmission choice available; a six-speed manual gearbox.
Like with its “normal” Focus sibling, the ST also gains a raft of interior revisions which include a simpler fascia layout with fewer buttons. There is a new colour choice too – a metallic dark grey affair called Stealth, as well as Deep Impact Blue. And you can still have the striking Tangerine Scream choice.
Pricing is still keen it seems. The range starts off at R381 900 for the ST1 while the ST3 goes for R421 900. This is inclusive of a four-year/120 000-kilometre warranty and a four-year/80 000 kilometre service plan.
Be sure to look out for our full report in your print copy of IgnitionLive next Thursday, free in The Times and Sowetan newspapers.