RE: 2019 Ford Focus ST: PH Meets

RE: 2019 Ford Focus ST: PH Meets

Friday 24th May

2019 Ford Focus ST: PH Meets

Everything you need to know - from ESE to EBB, and CCD to eLSD - about the ST. Sitting comfortably?



No car is launched in 2019 entirely without significant expectation behind it, though the pressure for the new Focus ST to deliver must rank as higher than most. Not only are there illustrious forebears to consider - a legacy that new extends back to the middle of the last decade - there's the precedent established by the Fiesta ST to maintain and the calibre of the hot hatch class to contend with. It's expected to be good, because Ford has been making great hot hatches for a while now, but it also needs to be very good, such is the quality of rival it faces. Pretty decent just won't cut it.

Sadly an exact appraisal of its talents will have to wait a few more weeks; until then we have the full lowdown of the ST from Leo Roeks, Director of Ford Performance in Europe, plus a passenger ride in the car at Ford's notoriously demanding Lommel test track. Full disclosure: assessing a car from the passenger seat feels like reviewing a restaurant with someone else eating the food. You'll get a good impression, but there's a rather critical bit missing from the experience. Still, something has to be better than nothing, and in the case of the new ST there are certainly a number of encouraging things that can be appreciated even from the wrong seat.

The engine for a start. A reworked version of the entry-level Mustang unit, with the anti-lag turbo technology first seen in the GT, the 2.3-litre Ecoboost makes 280hp and 310lb ft. That latter figure is notable for being the highest in the class (a Civic Type R makes 295lb ft), surely a benefit of the extra capacity over predominantly 2.0-litre rivals, and is likely to dominate the driving experience. Or passengering experience, at any rate. The ST punches through its mid-range gear after gear, promising much for the accessibility of its performance on actual roads. It feels strong and willing, and is said to match an old Focus RS for both in gear performance and quarter-mile time. Still, it probably is a fair bit lighter...


It sounds great, too; naturally an element of it is manufactured, both through exhaust tuning and the Engine Sound Enhancement - though where isn't sound manipulated to some extent nowadays? It only becomes a problem when it's badly done. Here there's a rorty, purposeful induction note with a very silly overrun gurgle as well, adjustable through the drive modes - more on which in a sec - yet never overdone. Where a Golf GTI tends to emit a rather artificial drone and an i30 N is almost gratuitous in its tailpipe trumping, this seems a nice compromise.

Probably the most significant chassis introductions for this ST, beyond moving to the new Focus chassis architecture, are the limited-slip diff and the Continuously Controlled Damping (CCD) system. The former is a BorgWarner mechanical unit, with the software then set up by Ford to be adjustable by the driver through those drive settings. Given the old ST could get a little wayward at the limit, it sounds like an eminently sensible move given the 12 per cent increase in power and 17 per cent jump in torque. On fleeting experience here it seems to be doing the job, generating those numbers into forward motion rather than squandering it through wheel spin.

Continuously Controlled Damping is available only on hatchback STs, and in two forms: the standard form, as the name suggests, is always reading the road surface and adjusting the damping force as it deems appropriate. With the optional Performance Pack - which also includes rev matching, a shift light, red brake calipers and flat shift capability - the CCD can be set to different parameters in the drive modes. The graphs to explain it are all a bit baffling, but the idea is to give the damping greater bandwidth; the standard CCD will operate in its window, the optional system then available to tailor its attitude to the situation - meaning that the normal made is more comfy than the standard setting and the sportier ones tangibly firmer.


All test cars were fitted with the Performance Pack. It'll come as little surprise to discover that its showing at a Ford test centre was impressive, though the poise and fluidity on some really iffy surfaces does bode well for driving in the UK. Typically it's a knack that Ford does rather well - thanks, you'd have to assume, to extensive testing in Wales and similar locations - and, even if the RS was a bit too tough, there's reason to be encouraged by the ST.

As for the rest of the dynamics, it's challenging and probably unwise to say too much definitively from the wrong seat. What can be concluded from observation is the newly reworked steering - just two turns lock to lock - doesn't ever require much more than a wrist twirl to negotiate a turn. Traction appears to be good, too, Roeks asserting that the Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tyre is as good as road tyres get. Though there's plenty more to be discovered about just how the ST drives - which we'll come back to soon.

Ford, for its part, was keen to discuss the DNA now running through all its Performance cars. While it's hard to see how much is really shared between a hot hatch and a supercar, the stated aim of delivering a linearity in the driving experience does have relevance. Roeks uses the phrase "friction fetishist" in his presentation, which sounds a lot weirder than it is. Basically he wants no slack in the controls; meaning the stiction and resistance which can blight steering systems, pedal feel, gearshift - almost anything, really - to prevent a consistent, linear feel from being delivered. If the response is linear then it's predictable, and predictable is enjoyable.


That's not just by Ford standards, either. The Focus was extensively tested against what will most likely be its three main rivals: the Civic Type R, i30 N and Golf GTI. Certainly if this ST can combine the best elements of those cars - the circuit finesse of the Civic, the fizzy excitability of the i30 N and the sophistication of the Golf - while improving on what was good about the ST before, then it could be something very special indeed.

So that it might achieve that lofty aim, modifications include a 10mm drop in ride height (with springs stiffer by 20 per cent at the front, and 13 per cent at the rear), new suspension knuckles and some significant brake upgrades - 330/302mm discs with uprated pads and an Electronic Brake Booster now feature as standard. The seven-speed automatic option is a conventional torque converter, issues around reliability - plus the fact that good autos have improved their shift speeds - meaning that a dual-clutch wasn't deemed prudent. The six-speed manual is borrowed from other Fords in the range, but with a shorter shift and bespoke ratios here. As for the drive modes, the all Focus STs get Slippery, Normal, Sport and Track, adjusting pretty much everything: sound, damping, steering, throttle response, limited-slip diff and the brake booster. There's so much adjusted, in fact, that Ford opted against an individual mode, claiming that most customisable modes are set once then left and that this much choice could be bewildering. Let's see how that bears out on the road; for the Fiesta ST the settings felt a little superfluous, though that could change here. For the first time, too, the mode selector is on the steering wheel, and there's a Sport mode hot key, like an M button in a BMW.

It's a lot to take in, and signifies just how thorough the ST overhaul has been despite a slightly demure styling makeover. With good foundations in the Mk4 Focus architecture, plus the formidable reputation established by Ford Performance since its formation in 2009, there's certainly cause to believe to that this ST could well be another corker. We'll know for certain come the summer.









Author
Discussion

Darren93

Original Poster:

58 posts

47 months

Thursday 23rd May
quotequote all
Looking forward to seeing how this drives, I think the mk3 facelift ST was well regarded but always lived in the shadows of the competition. Just not sure on those rear light... They look a bit cheap to my eyes.

The Vambo

3,333 posts

83 months

Thursday 23rd May
quotequote all
The best thing about the new Focus ST is that it doesn't have

 F             O                      C                     U                 S



spread along the boot. It drives me to distraction, new Volvos too.

Think this ST might be a bit of a cracker.

Escort3500

4,525 posts

87 months

Thursday 23rd May
quotequote all
The Vambo said:
The best thing about the new Focus ST is that it doesn't have

 F             O                      C                     U                 S



spread along the boot. It drives me to distraction, new Volvos too.

Think this ST might be a bit of a cracker.
Agree, especially with the S underneath the F biggrin

fernando the frog

177 posts

10 months

Thursday 23rd May
quotequote all
I still think Ford's grille has ruined all of their cars apart from on the larger models

5Cylinder

3,037 posts

34 months

Thursday 23rd May
quotequote all
A amazing package, congrats to ford for getting it right!
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Jon_S_Rally

339 posts

30 months

Thursday 23rd May
quotequote all
Interesting that so many of the cars here are orange, suggests that it's a standard colour, while it was only available on the special edition Fiesta ST.

It's a nice looking car though, will be interesting to see how it stacks up. It's a shame Ford have succumbed to all the driving mode/adaptive damping business though.

okenemem

414 posts

136 months

Thursday 23rd May
quotequote all
looks ok

Honeywell

263 posts

40 months

Thursday 23rd May
quotequote all
Yes but the infographics and soft touch lower dash plastics are still not as good as Golf R. So.

lee_erm

779 posts

135 months

Thursday 23rd May
quotequote all
Control blade IRS has been beefed up a lot. Is that standard on the MK4 or bespoke to the MK4 ST I wonder?

JulianHJ

8,056 posts

204 months

Thursday 23rd May
quotequote all
Jon_S_Rally said:
Interesting that so many of the cars here are orange, suggests that it's a standard colour, while it was only available on the special edition Fiesta ST.
There was a similar colour available as standard (for some extra cash) on the mk3 - Tangerine Scream.

I'm pleased they've ditched the horrible primer grey in favour of a proper metallic grey ('Magnetic') this time round.

redroadster

903 posts

174 months

Thursday 23rd May
quotequote all
Ford has always been great at producing good fast hatches this sounds v good .

spikyone

315 posts

42 months

Thursday 23rd May
quotequote all
Genuine question: how does the steering on performance Fords (STs and RSs) compare to the vanilla versions? Every Fiesta and Focus I've ever driven has had truly weird steering behaviour; I find they need repeated mid-corner adjustments when driven at anything more than granny speed. It's totally unnerving and I hate to think what driving with any enthusiasm would feel like.
Having driven a few I read Jackie Stewart's autobiography, and the feel he describes from testing the MK1 Mondeo described exactly what I was feeling. I can only assume that the hot versions have very different steering feel?

Edited by spikyone on Friday 24th May 06:42

David87

5,206 posts

154 months

Thursday 23rd May
quotequote all
I have no doubt this will be a fantastic car. I’m staggered at how good the regular Mk4 Focus drives, so this should be really excellent. Look forward to seeing one!

Cacatous

3,053 posts

215 months

Friday 24th May
quotequote all
fernando the frog said:
I still think Ford's grille has ruined all of their cars apart from on the larger models
I disagree now - it helps break up the taller front ends due to the ridiculous pedestrian crash regulations.

mike150

398 posts

142 months

Friday 24th May
quotequote all
Hope they sorted the rally spec suspension

I bought a new Focus ST in 2016 after 2 years in a Focus Zetec S expecting it to be better...……….obviously!

The Zetec S was great. The ST looked better but in all other areas was worse, it handled badly, I suspected the ESP was to blame, it seemed to torque steer unpredictably in the wet and was verging on dangerous. That and the fact the suspension was great for a bumpy tarmac stage but no good for driving every day, way over damped, I got rid of it after 3 months.

BTW I used to work for Ford and have owned over 2 dozen...…………..I now have a Golf R with DSG, brilliant car!

Big Robbo

109 posts

88 months

Friday 24th May
quotequote all
spikyone said:
Genuine question: how does the steering on performance Fords (STs and RSs) compare to the vanilla versions? Every Fiesta and Focus I've ever driven has had truly weird steering behaviour; I find they need repeated mid-corner adjustments when driven at anything more than granny speed. It's totally unnerving and I hate to think what driving with any enthusiasm would feel like.
Having driven a few I read Jackie Stewart's autobiography, and the feel he describes from testing the MK1 Mondeo described exactly what I was feeling. I can only assume that the hot versions have very different steering feel?

Edited by spikyone on Friday 24th May 06:42
I drive a Fiesta ST and my daughter has the 1.0 version and they are both great cars to drive however her turning circle is better than mine and mine has quicker response

Onehp

1,030 posts

225 months

Friday 24th May
quotequote all
Cacatous said:
fernando the frog said:
I still think Ford's grille has ruined all of their cars apart from on the larger models
I disagree now - it helps break up the taller front ends due to the ridiculous pedestrian crash regulations.
Side note - why rediculous? Anybody here is a pedestrian at times and I for sure don't want to die because and idiot runs me over with a rock hard car. Bo miricles happening and will still get injured of course, worldwide still millions of pedestrians are killed, my uncle was too. Maybe they should have gone farther with bonnet airbags and automatic radar emergency branking...

On topic, so the estate doesn't get the adaptive suspension? If it's good no worries but on the other hand the more dual nature of an estate could benefit even more of it...

Edited by Onehp on Friday 24th May 07:52

Shuthan_S5

170 posts

71 months

Friday 24th May
quotequote all
To me, the focus has got worse in terms of looks as each generation has passed, I still think to this day the MK1 Focus is the best looking and I still give the odd glance as one goes by, may be capable but it just looks horrid and the rear reminds me of the Fiat Tipo, the price is also a little too ambitious.

kultsch88

94 posts

108 months

Friday 24th May
quotequote all
Supposedly £32,000 for Petrol Manual....that's a bit expensive for list price

CacheMonet

37 posts

28 months

Friday 24th May
quotequote all
Looks absolutely cracking in that yellow, much better than the blue from the original announcement photos. Cannot wait to see how it is received - especially the estate.