FORD FOCUS ST-3 ESTATE: PH FLEET
Navigational disputes aside it's domestic bliss in the Focus still
costing closer to £40K or Porsche 911 Carrera quietly knocking on the door of six figures OTR without too much persuasion from the salesman. A pity also this tedious brand snobbery seems too often to cloud debate over the exemplary fitness for purpose of the product itself. And, yes, having lived with it I'm unashamedly partisan.
And having said I wanted to set the pricing debate on one side I've probably just reignited it. Ho hum!
To the car itself though and a couple of niggles first, reported from the driver's seat by Mrs Trent. First up the sat-nav, whose tiny screen and apparent lack of a 'proper' north-up plan view are minor irritations to its occasional total loss of position. It seemed to have lost signal - not for the first time - and then 'lost' us too, hence bonkers instructions like 'turn right' when joining motorways or 'make a U-turn' half way down the M1. But once your faith in a navigation system is shattered it's next to useless.
And while we're moaning the 'evens' only speedo is a pain too; OK, it's not that hard to fill in the gaps but given 30, 50 and 70 are numbers you really need to keep tabs on in UK driving it can be frustrating.
In all other respects the Focus continues to impress and dazzle with its all-round ability and seamless combination of fun and practicality. It's just such a pleasing balance and the fact that, as collection date looms, I'm facing household pressure to open negotiations with Ford says a lot. Ford tried before with the ST170 estate - a car I'd snap up in an instant - but our man there says the market wasn't quite ready and sales were unfortunately sluggish. This time around the aspiration is for the estate to eventually account for a fifth of sales; it's currently sitting at around a tenth but the usefulness, Q-car appeal and looks mean it deserves to reach that goal.
my everyday car makes 122lb ft at 6,300rpm may have heightened the impression slightly..."
What the Mountune upgrades announced recently, driven by Harris and retrofittable if you're already an ST owner, will do to that remains to be seen but Matt's a fan of the engine straight out of the box.
"That 2.0-litre Ecoboost is what some might call 'brawny'. It pulls from very few revs but still feels keen beyond 5,000rpm, all whilst accompanied by an appropriately boomy induction roar. The gearbox is tight with a positive, short throw and all the controls operate with that slickness we now come to associate with Ford. Perhaps if I clean it some more I can actually take it out properly!"
He, and the unfortunate bloke coming to pick it up in a couple of weeks, have a fight on their hands though. Mrs T isn't about to give up those keys without a scrap...
Car: Ford Focus ST-3 Estate
Run by: The Trent household, Matt when he's allowed to
On fleet since: April 2013
List price new: £29,055 (Basic list of £26,595 plus £750 for Sony DAB Navigation System with Rear View Camera, £900 for Driver Assistance Pack, £200 for privacy glass, £85 for door edge protectors, £525 for Spirit Blue Metallic paint)
Last month at a glance: Enough on price already, let's talk about the driving!