Typically it’s actually arduous to face out from the group. Irrespective of how worthy the actual product is, it merely can’t acquire traction in opposition to respected competitors.
Enter the fourth-generation Ford Focus, a hatchback with gross sales outcomes that conversely mirror its proficiency as a genuinely sorted product. In a section crammed with top-sellers just like the Toyota Corolla, Hyundai i30, Kia Cerato and Mazda 3, the plucky Blue Oval-badged five-door doesn’t get a glance in. However in ST-Line guise, it undoubtedly ought to.
The gross sales race is brutal and given the lacklustre efficiency of the Focus, Ford rationalised its native lineup in 2020 in an unforgiving style. We’re left with simply three variants; the ST-Line, the high-riding but front-wheel-drive-only Energetic and the gung-ho ST scorching hatch.
The spectacular three-cylinder-powered ST-Line examined right here fulfils the pseudo heat hatch temporary, however its an identical pricing with the Energetic means the vary begins at a lofty $30,990. Nonetheless, it ought to be saved in thoughts that the ST-Line’s mechanical gubbins go an extended strategy to justify the value premium.
READ Ford Focus ST vs Renault Megane RS300 Trophy
That’s as a result of the star of the present is the diminutive 1.5-litre three-cylinder turbo, an engine that punches arduous above its weight division and offers the Focus a quite distinctive promoting level.
It genuinely feels as robust as a 2.0-litre four-pot. And with 134kW and 240Nm, its uncooked figures actually again that up, which implies the Focus is greater than a match for the section.
The EcoBoost unit revs cleanly and with goal to redline, but additionally attracts on its meaty torque curve, which extends all the way in which to 5000rpm from as little as 1750rpm. Be it metropolis driving or overtaking on the open highway, the ST-Line by no means feels out of puff with a linear energy supply.
It sounds good, too, though it could be even higher in case you might hear much more of the inherently balanced, thrummy three-cylinder through the Sport mode (Regular and Eco are the opposite choices). And never solely does it miss out on the throaty word of the Fiesta ST, however there are additionally no overrun histrionics, both.
Whereas Ford claims a mixed consumption determine of 6.4L/100km, we recorded a thirstier 8.75L/100km – nevertheless, that did embrace spirited road-testing kays blended in with CBD and freeway stints. Apparently, the three-pot can deactivate one among its cylinders at cruising speeds to avoid wasting gas.
It’s a disgrace Ford doesn’t endow the Focus ST-Line with the full-fat 147kW/290Nm Fiesta ST tune (or supply the handbook that’s accessible in different markets). It looks as if a missed alternative to go toe-to-toe with the likes of the Hyundai i30 N Line and Kia Cerato GT in straight-line prowess. But, regardless of a 0-100km/h time of 8.3 seconds on paper, it isn’t a slouch, and the ST-Line’s dealing with capacity is a match for the EcoBoost’s allure.
Now utilizing a complicated multi-link unbiased rear suspension setup as an alternative of the torsion-beam configuration the hatch initially launched with (there are MacPherson struts up entrance), the ST-Line shows shocking dynamic expertise for what’s ostensibly a run-of-the-mill hatchback.
Working on chubby 215/50 Continental ContiSportContact 5 rubber (wrapping quite ‘small’ 17-inch alloys), the ST-Line does are likely to roll over its sidewall when pushed.
Nonetheless, it’s straightforward to get right into a rhythm with it and work with the motion to take advantage of the sorted chassis. It feels effervescent and light-weight on its toes, making you wish to discover its warm-hatch credentials.
Utilizing the stronger and lighter C2 structure, the ST-Line has a tidy front-end with ample grip and a stage of rear-axle compliance that doesn’t waver when encountering nasty mid-corner bumps.
The steering is slightly obscure on centre and within the preliminary phases of lock, nevertheless, it provides reassuring weight the extra you flip in direction of the apex. Oh, and people taller sidewalls do assist with the experience high quality that’s categorized as agency, not harsh – particularly given the 10mm drop in peak over the now defunct-for-Oz Development variant.
The weakest hyperlink within the powertrain is the eight-speed automated, which, satirically for a torque-converter unit, shows behavioural traits akin to a dual-clutch gearbox. Gradual-speed smoothness isn’t its forte, exacerbating the initially lax throttle response. Switching from drive into reverse gear will also be met with a delay.
On the run it’s clean and imperceptible however overlook utilizing the handbook mode and steering wheel-mounted paddles when the temper takes you because it doesn’t maintain gears to redline – it’s extra a Sport mode than full handbook management.
READ Opinion: handbook gearboxes aren’t all the time higher
And the e-shifter gained’t be to everybody’s liking, particularly when it doesn’t actually unencumber way more console house and it’s more durable to make use of than a traditional shifter. Kind over operate, certainly.
The rotary-style dial can be imagined to be a design determination to encourage general cohesion. However whereas the previous-gen Focus was lumped with a busy cabin, the fourth technology is slightly stylistically nondescript.
And a few of the supplies used imply it gained’t hassle a Volkswagen Golf or Mazda 3 for premium atmosphere regardless of matching them by way of construct high quality. There are a couple of hints to the sporting intent with ST-Line scuff plates, darkish headliner and pink stitching for the material seats and flat-bottom steering wheel.
Fiddly e-shifter apart, the ergonomics are sound with a logical structure and the sports-orientated seats are a pleasant addition – the driving place can be spot on behind the wheel.
Ambient lighting raises the temper at night time, too, whereas outward imaginative and prescient from all angles is nice. Highway noise on course-chip tarmac may be heard at pace, however general untoward exterior sounds don’t develop into too intrusive throughout the cabin.
A high-mount 8.0-inch touchscreen handles the infotainment comprising Ford’s SYNC 3 system with inbuilt satellite tv for pc navigation – however most will bypass it to utilise wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
A wi-fi charging pad is out there for appropriate smartphones, whereas DAB+ digital radio, dynamic LED headlights, 180-degree split-view digital camera, keyless entry/push-button begin, dual-zone local weather management and a leather-wrapped steering wheel are customary.
The instrument cluster contains analogue dials, which flank a digital show for numerous capabilities just like the journey pc and speedometer.
FordPassConnect makes use of an embedded modem to speak to your telephone through an app. As soon as attached, it may be used to hold out numerous duties like find the automobile, lock and unlock the doorways and begin the engine. The latter engages the local weather management, which is able to both heat or cool the cabin relying on the settings programmed earlier than the automobile was turned off.
When it comes to security, the ST-Line receives a five-star ANCAP security score. An optionally available Driver Help Package deal consists of adaptive cruise management with a useful Cease&Go operate in addition to blind-spot info with rear cross-traffic alert and lively braking. AEB with bike owner and pedestrian detection, lane maintaining assist with lane departure warning is customary. There are two ISOFIX factors to safe youngster seats.
With a 2700mm-long wheelbase, backseat legroom is beneficiant if not commodious. Nonetheless, even with the optionally available panorama sunroof, headroom is spectacular. It’s a disgrace there’s no central armrest, air vents or USB charging ports within the again, however each outboard seats acquire a mesh map pocket, there’s a 12v energy socket and the seat backs of the entrance pews are coated in delicate materials as an alternative of arduous plastic.
The rear seats fold in a 60:40-split, and whereas the boot ground is flat (hiding a space-saver spare), there’s a lip when the rear pews are stowed. Nonetheless, at 373 litres, the cargo capability is aggressive for the category and is noticeably bigger than that of the strong-selling Corolla (217 litres).
Capped-price servicing is available in at $299 per customary A or B scheduled service for as much as 4 years or 60,000km (whichever comes first), with intervals deemed to be each 15,000km or 12 months. The Focus ST-Line is roofed by Ford’s five-year, limitless kilometre guarantee for peace of thoughts.
Finally the ST-Line is a superb package deal, but there’s a caveat. And that’s the value. Whereas the $30,990 sticker is profitable, you could tick the Driver Help Package deal to realize the identical stage of security tech present in rivals – which is able to set you again a further $1250.
Plus, to coat your ST-Line within the hero Desert Island Blue hue (or any of the premium metallic paints) you’ll have to fork out $650 and an extra $2K for the panoramic glass sunroof. That tallies to an RRP of $34,890 all in, however earlier than on-road prices.
Sure, the Focus is beginning to age given its late 2018 launch and the ST-Line is lacking some key customary tools. Nonetheless, in a world the place run-of-the-mill hatchbacks may be boring and generic, the warmed-up ST-Line provides an enthralling persona that’s arduous to not be enamoured by.
What’s extra, it hasn’t misplaced the dynamic edge that made the unique Focus such a landmark automobile. And that makes it worthy of standing out within the crowd for all the appropriate causes.
Physique: 5-door, 5-seat hatch
Engine: 1497cc inline 3cyl, DOHC, 12v
Energy: 134kW @ 6000rpm
Torque: 240Nm @ 1750-5000rpm
Transmission: 8-speed automated
Gas Financial system: 6.4L/100km (claimed); 8.75L/100km (examined)
Value: $30,990 ($34,890 as examined)
On sale: Now