An experiment in evolution

by Andy Bryenton

Ford have long had an association with creating compact and powerful cars. Just look at the forthcoming movie in which Henry Ford’s son matches wits with the formidable Enzo Ferrari, leading to the creation of a vehicle only 40 inches tall that wipes the Le Mans racetrack with Italian oil, thanks to a couple of Kiwis, naturally.

In more recent years, the blue oval has enlisted some heavyweight help to keep its compact and sporty offerings right at the edge of the curve. From the famous little Cosworth — tuned hot hatches of the late 20th century, through to the recent Focus ST with its input from legendary auto maestro Ken Block, there’s been a willingness to experiment, to let some fresh air and a whiff of punk rock attitude into the design studio and factory. 2020 has proven no different.

Let’s begin with the juicy numbers — 276 horsepower. That’s more than you’d get from a sporting Mercedes not so long ago, for the kind of money which billionaires find down the back of the couch.

Now it’s crammed into the 2.3 litre engine of the most powerful Focus ever and it hasn’t stopped the Focus from being, well focussed.

From the first run of these cars people have been impressed by how they handle and carving through the curves has not been neglected with the 2020 model. There’s also a handy 420 Nm of torque so you can go deep into the corners and power out with a wave of g-force smashing you back into the racing seats like a polite but firm doorman.

This is all fine and good, but purists will insist that the inspired insanity of the previous model carries over. It does, with little touches that mean Ford have consulted the tyre-smoke and burning octane brigade comprehensively. Such as a driving mode which can be selected ‘for race track use only’, and continuously controlled damping which checks the car’s position every 2 milliseconds and adds a little nudge to keep holding down a razor sharp line. Sport mode can be engaged with a single button, and it’s right there on the steering wheel, tempting you to get a little bit crazy. That’s the ST spirit! From the looks outside to the cabin’s more subtle presentation, the new Focus ST has grown up a little. But make no mistake, it’s still up for some adventures.