Every once in a while, a carmaker will release a vehicle that exceeds expectations. With millions spent on research, automobile manufacturers don’t need to take chances. They know their audience, and they know their product.
But every once in a while, we see a car that just blows everyone away. A car so good it impresses us car nuts, which leads to a car that sells so well it impresses the manufacturer. I would say I’m trying to build suspense, but the title of this post gave away the car I was building up in this first paragraph.
Reaching the Boy Racers
A runaway hit since its introduction in 2013, the Ford Focus ST has absolutely captivated the “boy racer” demographic. Mustangs are too expensive, GTIs are too clichéd, and the Fiesta ST, as brilliant as it may be, is still a Fiesta. Europe has had an entire decade to appreciate the greatness of this souped-up “hot hatch,” so perhaps it shouldn’t have surprised Ford when the Focus ST played so well in a segment where the GTI is really the only competition. Sorry, Mopar guys, the Dodge Dart GT isn’t even in the same league.
After two years, the ST wasn’t really in need of a freshening, but since the base Focus got one, so did the ST. Luckily, the ST was spared the corporate “Aston” grill. I say luckily not because I don’t like the grill but because it would have looked out of place on the ST. Instead, the ST receives the same new front fascia as the base Focus with black mesh in the grill instead of the silver horizontal bars.
The rear end is tightened up a bit, too, including smaller taillights. The engine is the same, and Ford boasts only minor steering recalibration. You would be forgiven if in a few months you are unable to tell the difference between the old and new models out on the road. For those of you looking to take advantage of the eminent upgradability of the ST, there’s one boy racer dream you won’t have to get on the aftermarket – racing stripes.
A Few ST Changes
The biggest changes are where the driver will notice them most — on the inside. Most importantly, the center stack has been de-cluttered, which is sorely needed. Now the thing actually makes sense. A flat-bottomed steering wheel adds a touch of racer flair and for your legs, and Ford has made the backup camera standard equipment ahead of the 2018 federal mandate.
The Focus currently offers the best value proposition in terms of fun-per-dollar, which is a measurement I just made up. Look for it to catch on the car industry shortly. The engine is as strong as ever, the 6-speed manual gearbox is still fun to row (and currently, thankfully, the only transmission available — long live the manuals!), and the front-end suspension gives you the best handling a front-driver can offer.
So Ford took a great car and not only made it look better, but also improved the frustrating ergonomics inside? When can I take delivery?
Scott Huntington is a car buff and freelance writer. Check out his site, Offthethrottle.com.