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  1. Analysis
January 26, 2022

Ford Focus ST Edition – the best gets better

The news that every Ford of Europe car is going electric makes the Focus ST Edition that extra bit special.

By Glenn Brooks

Sitting atop the range, the ST Edition, a limited production run variant, must be the most accomplished Focus yet. The changes are far from pronounced yet they help to improve this variant in a number of subtle yet important ways, making it even more desirable.

Even though Ford of Europe showed us images of a facelift for this generation model three months ago, there’s still no news on a relevant refresh for the ST. Nonetheless, its engine and transmission options have been listed in the pre-launch information, the revised all-turbo line-up being as follows:

  • 95 PS 1.5-litre four-cylinder EcoBlue (diesel), six-speed manual
  • 120 PS 1.5-litre four-cylinder EcoBlue (diesel), six-speed manual or eight-speed torque converter automatic
  • 125 PS 1.0-litre three-cylinder EcoBoost Hybrid (petrol 48 V mild hybrid), six-speed manual or seven-speed DSG
  • 155 PS 1.0-litre three-cylinder EcoBoost Hybrid (petrol 48 V mild hybrid), six-speed manual or seven-speed DSG
  • 280 PS & 420 Nm four-cylinder 2.3-litre EcoBoost (ST), six-speed manual with rev-matching or seven-speed DSG

The fastest Focus was originally announced three years ago this month, seven months after production of C519, the fourth generation Focus, went into production at Saarlouis. The German factory still makes all examples of the car for European markets, the only other plant being in China.

The ST comes as a five-door hatchback or an estate. There had been a choice of engines too: 280 PS and 420 Nm 2.3-litre EcoBoost petrol or 190 PS 2.0-litre EcoBlue with 400 Nm but it looks as though the diesel is to be dropped when the restyled Focus launches later in 2022.

One of many bespoke touches for the top-spec car is an electronic limited-slip differential. The ST was the first front-wheel drive Ford to have the BorgWarner diff. Its presence doesn’t so much transform grip as make you wonder how certain fast hatchbacks with all-wheel drive manage to feel less connected to the road.

Changes for the Edition over the existing ST include adjustable coilover suspension, lighter wheels, unique badging, a black roof and Azure Blue paint with high-gloss black detailing. This limited-build model is available only as a hatchback with manual transmission.

Modifications to the suspension system were carried out by KW Automotive, a specialist motor sport company. Spring rates are increased by more than 50 percent versus the ST, plus there are twin-tube stainless steel damper housings and powder-coated springs. These are painted Ford Performance Blue.

The ST Edition sits 10 mm closer to the road compared to the ST and an extra up to 20 mm is available should an owner wish to lower the ride height even more.

Ford includes a technical document with recommended suspension adjustments for different driving conditions. There’s even a setting for the Nürburgring.

Taking your seat means slipping into what is a part-leather Recaro bucket, trimmed with blue stitching. The ignition is fired via a red starter button and the Edition barks into life but it’s not so aggressive as to be too loud.

Even knowing that a revamp of the interior is coming is of little concern as the interior has as much appeal as it did back in 2019, or 2018 for other versions of the Focus. Generation four has aged well and I’m one of those people who prefers this vehicle to the segment’s number one, the Mark VIII Golf. I suspect we’ll look back on the latest VW as a car that was sent in a different but not necessarily better direction than the Mark VII.

In the Focus, there are digital readouts and analogue controls – all very much in that appealing safety-first style of how German Fords typically look and feel. There is never any frustration or confusion about where a function’s control is or how it works. Want to lower the heat or volume of the music? There’s a knob or a switch for that, not some slider that can be hit or miss.

The Edition, like the existing ST, is all about the driver so it’s just a delight to see that the focus, if you will, is on providing as few distractions as possible. In a car such as this, the emphasis should be and indeed is on providing thrills. You cannot help but seek out the best roads you know, even if the weather isn’t ideal.

It rained a lot during most of the days when the Edition was with me, and yet that didn’t seem to matter. The grip coming from the front end is just astonishing. When it’s about to segue into a little slide, that’s beautifully communicated through what has to be the best steering of any C segment hatchback. Back off, find the next roundabout, know that an enormous grin will be wide across your face.

To some, the GBP35,785 price might seem high for a Ford Focus. To others, it’s more than worth the cost for the sheer joy which it so readily provides.

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