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What happens when you take the world’s bestselling car, the Ford Focus hatch and refresh it? You improve on a winning formula, right? In theory yes. Driving the 1.0 and 1.5 3 cylinder EcoBoost versions of the Focus, yielded a positive thumbs up from me - Rand for Rand the Focus is impossible to beat in the value for money stakes. And it’s good to know that it is a great car generally speaking. But we aren’t talking about these two variants, rather we are focusing our attention on the wild child in the family, the ST3.
The ST3 features a 2.0 4 cylinder EcoBoost engine – swooshing 184kW of power, thanks to its turbo. From the outside the ST3 is equipped and bulked up with aggressively imposing body armour - the ST3 certainly isn’t a wolf in sheep’s clothing. The ST3 is a boy racer, in every sense of the word. It looks like one and drives like it too – wheel spinning pull offs are par for the course, as is the sensation that it corners as if it’s on rails. It’s a hooligan designed to excite those experienced drivers who love the thrill of motoring while scaring the lesser experienced with its menacing character.
Like the rest of the Focus range, the ST3 has had cosmetic changes but with specific racer details being catered especially for the ST. Things like: a new front grille, redesigned front and rear light clusters and bumpers too. These cosmetic enhancements have elevated its bad boy bravado status, making it the best looking ST yet!
Enter the cabin - the previously cluttered dashboard of the Focus is now ordered, more simplistic - due to its large touch screen infotainment system that now controls a variety of the cars systems at the touch of the screens button. The quality of the materials have been upgraded and the snug fitting Recaro leather sports seats remain. The ST may be tough enough for a street race but inside the cabin emulates a more sophisticated feel. Soft to touch materials, fine grade leather and embroidered ST detailing make for a classy spot to place your derrière.
With the upgrades, come a questionable adjustment to the ST’s suspension – supposedly tweaked to improve – I felt the ST to be firmer than before. Previously the ST suffered from torque steer (when the steering wheel moves left and right in your hand as the tyres grasp for grip of the tarmac when accelerating hard). Unfortunately it still suffers from torque steer, which can feel like Usain Bolt out of the starting block but with a pair of his wife’s wedges on. Driven more sedately you won’t pick up this sensation problem.
There are few cars that are as entertaining to drive, albeit the money you save buying the ST over its competitors should be used for an advanced driving course – knowledge is power, right? Having the knowledge to control the power of the ST will make this the most fun you can have for R350 900 for the base ST1 and R394 900 for the higher spec’d ST3.
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