MATT CAMPBELL August 01, 2012
New turbocharged ST hatchback undercuts Golf GTI and WRX, starts at $38,290.
Ford has announced pricing for its eagerly anticipated Focus ST hot hatch - and buyers with a bent for performance will likely be pleasantly surprised.
The Blue Oval’s new performance focused five-door small car will kick off from $38,290 plus on-road costs when it goes on sale on October 1, undercutting the likes of Subaru’s WRX (from $39,990), Volkswagen’s Golf GTI (three-door from $38,990; five-door from $40,490), the Mazda3 MPS (from $39,490) and Mitsubishi’s Lancer Ralliart (from $44,990).
Despite that eager pricing, it is considerably dearer than the newly introduced Hyundai Veloster SR Turbo, which starts at $31,990 but is a lot less powerful. The Focus ST is also slightly more expensive than the model it effectively replaces, the XR5 Turbo, which started at $36,490.
The Focus ST is powered by a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine with peak power outputs of 184kW and 360Nm - meaning it is oomphier than the Golf GTI (155kW/280Nm) and Lancer Ralliart (177kW/343Nm). Subaru’s WRX has more power (195kW) but less torque (343Nm), while the understated Mazda3 MPS trumps the Ford in both regards (190kW/380Nm).
The Focus ST is only available with a six-speed manual transmission and unlike its predecessor the ST will come with standard cruise control, meaning drivers will now have the option of resting their right foot if they so choose.
Claimed fuel consumption for the Focus ST is rated at 7.4L/100km, lower than all of its competitors. Subaru’s WRX, which has a bigger engine, uses 10.4L/100km.
The ST gets torque vectoring control (which can brake the inside wheel for more direct cornering and less understeer) and an electronic steering system that has been developed specifically to counteract torque steer (where the steering wheel tugs to one side under throttle). It also has an adjustable stability control system with three settings (on; partially on; or completely off).
Standard equipment for the Focus ST includes Recaro sports seats with leather trimming and cloth inserts to match the paint colour, dual-zone climate control, bi-xenon headlights, auto-dimming rear-view mirror, rain-sensing wipers and 18-inch alloy wheels.
The audio system offers Bluetooth phone and media player connectivity, and there’s a neat “sound symposer” that amplifies the engine intake noise into the cabin, much like Toyota’s recently released 86 coupe.
Exterior colours for the Focus ST include the orangey-yellow signature colour Tangerine Scream, as well as blue, red, black, white and silver.
Ford’s previous model hot hatch, the Focus XR5, proved a popular choice among buyers, with 5923 units sold between April 2006 and December 2011.
Read our first drive review of the Focus ST from the international launch of the car.