Every era has had its fast Ford icon. Right now it’s probably the Fiesta ST. But once upon a time it had a Cosworth badge, and for good few years it was an assortment of rear-wheel drive Escorts. And while it might not spring immediately to mind, the five-cylinder Focus ST is probably deserving of lofty status, too.
Think about it. It was cheap (from £17,500 in 2005); it was fast (thanks to that lovely old Volvo engine it would do 150mph); it handled nicely (as fast Fords of the era always have); and it was extremely orange – as made famous by that Top Gear video. Moreover, it came at a time when the hot hatch was enjoying a resurgence, with a host of manufacturers offering a variety of wares: revs came from Honda, loutish enthusiasm came from Vauxhall, V6 sophistication came from VW and Renault Sport had finally worked out what to do with the Megane. It was a great time for the segment, and the Focus was more than competitive, delivering on the fast Ford promises of value, entertainment and plentiful performance.
With the new Focus ST soon to reach customers, it’s an interesting time to revisit the five-cylinder car. With the new Ecoboost model festooned with modes and settings, we can look back fondly at how sophisticated having variable steering was in the mid-2000s. Now it’s a surprise not to find it fitted. The wheel itself hasn’t a single button on it, the dials are remarkably simple and the analogue gauges almost quaint in a world of endless configurable digital displays.
Arguably, though, that’s the joy of cars from this era: sufficiently modern in terms of performance, safety and driving dynamics to be enjoyable, yet not swamped with an overwhelming amount of technology. That five-cylinder engine is, of course, a big part of the fun, too – and eminently tuneable, as proven by the RS.
While being fast, fun and affordable brought the ST many fans, it also soon revealed a problem: cracked cylinder liners. It’s become a well known issue, which is why this ST appeals so much. The engine was rebuilt just a thousand miles ago, at a cost of £4,000.
Some might be wary of the rest of the car as a result, but the ad suggests the engine issue only emerged once it was up for sale. It’s now been rebuilt, the running-in service has been completed and the ST is ready to roll, with lots more to be encouraged by. The rest of the car has only seen 62,000 miles, the ad is long and there are worthwhile mods already fitted should the next owner pursue more power. It also looks in fine condition for a car that, let’s not forget, is approaching its teenage years.
So while there are cheaper STs around - not to mention a whole host of rivals offering their own USPs - this Focus’s mechanical freshness and its apparently diligent owner count for a lot. Indeed the only thing that might be holding it back is the paint scheme, because for some only orange will do. Still, you can’t have everything…
SPECIFICATION – FORD FOCUS ST
Engine: 2,521cc, five-cyl turbo
Transmission: 6-speed manual, front-wheel drive
Power (hp): 225@6,000rpm
Torque (lb ft): 236@1,600-4,000rpm
First registered: 2007
Recorded mileage: 62,000
Price new: c. £18,000
Yours for: £7,500
See the original advert here.