BY MATTHEW CORSO
SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY CORRESPONDENT
Ford left the hot hatch market in 2004 with the departure of its Focus SVT. After nine long years, Ford has finally re-entered this market with its brand-new 2013 Focus ST. This Focus, Ford’s newest creation, is starting at a base price of $24,495, and if you are not careful with the option boxes, the price can stretch to a grand total of $28,930. This top trim adds the ST3 package, which includes heated full-leather Recaro bucket seats, a built-in navigation system, HID headlamps and LED daytime running lamps. The “ST” badge on this Focus stands for “Sports Technology,” and there is definitely a lot of both in this hot hatch. This new Focus ST was developed jointly by Ford’s Special Vehicle Team (SVT) in America along with Ford’s Rallye Sport (RS) Team in Europe.
The ST’s silken lines are a testament to part of its European design scheme, and reflect subtle yet aggressively good looks. The design follows suit inside the ST as well with exquisite leather seating with more expensive packages and very nice cloth seats on the lower trim levels. Edmonds.com, a car reviewing site, says interior materials are “best-in-class,” which is a massive complement for a vehicle starting at a base price of about $24,500.
Time to talk numbers and performance. Underneath the hood of the Focus ST is a tuned version of Ford’s 2.0-liter turbocharged EcoBoost four cylinder engine. This gives the ST 252 horsepower and 270 pound-foot of torque. With those performance figures, the ST sprints to 60 mph from a standstill in a respectable 6.2 seconds and rockets through the quarter mile in just 14.5 seconds.
This is not bad for a 3,250-pound hatchback. If not governor-limited, the ST will reach a top speed of 154 mph. The ST is not all about pure speed, since it is also a very composed and competent handler through corners. Ford’s Focus ST gets specially tuned springs, dampers and a revised rear suspension.
All of these special parts add up to very impressive vehicle handling. The suspension on the ST is also reminiscent of sporty driving. It offers a firm and planted ride when the stability control is in sport or fully off modes. When the stability control is turned to the normal mode, the ride is still firm, however livable for the automotive enthusiast. The ST pulls 0.96g’s of lateral acceleration through the figure eight handling test. After all, speed is nothing if it cannot be used on backcountry roads.
Michael Austin commented on the car in Car and Driver’s June 2012 issue.
“The Focus appears to fulfill the promise of the affordable daily-driver performance car.”
With the national average gasoline price hovering around $3.80 a gallon many consumers are rightfully concerned with miles per gallon figures. The ST is rated at 23 mpg city and 32 mpg highway with a combined estimated average of 27.5 mpg.
This means that if you drive 13,476 miles per year (the national average), you will end up spending around $1862 per year in gasoline costs.
Ford’s new hot hatch has brought major competition to this selective niche market and hopes to win over buyers who are willing to give up a little bit of comfort for a lot of utilitarian fun.
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