ON paper the Focus ST is a dream package for user-choosers, offering plenty of performance and an affordable front-end pricetag.
Which is all well and good, but to fully live up to its perk car tag the fast Ford needs to offer entertainment day-in, day-out over three years.
We’re nearly four months into our ownership of the ST now, and every journey still puts a smile on my face. Much of the appeal lies in the characterful 2.5-litre five-cylinder turbo engine, providing a growling soundtrack and thumping performance throughout the rev range.
The noise becomes very addictive – I just can’t resist stroking the throttle to get the turbo spinning and then enjoying the rush of power which ensues.
All of which probably explains the dismal fuel economy I’m managing to extract from the Focus – 23.5mpg is well short of Ford’s claimed 30.4mpg figure.
I’m now managing to cover around 250 miles on a single tank of super-unleaded, although motorway miles with the car in sixth car can eke this out to nearer the 300-mile mark.
The ST has the same 55-litre fuel tank as every other Focus, but because of the extra power on offer it just doesn’t go as far.
But I’m starting to think our ST may be running a little rich. There are three clues to this – firstly, the amount of carbon residue around the exhaust pipes; secondly, the popping and spitting the car produces when I lift off the throttle and finally, the sometimes lumpy nature of the engine when it’s idling. A visit to the garage is on the cards to see if my suspicions are correct.
But even if it isn’t running rich, this level of frugality is to be expected in such a performance-oriented car. If you want more miles to the gallon, buy a diesel.
For me, the compromise is well worth living with, and there are some more prosaic reasons for choosing the Focus. In four months it’s hardly used a drop of oil and tyre wear is surprisingly low in spite of the punishment the tyres have gone through.
Only an annoying rattle from a poorly-fitting glovebox lid is spoiling things. A good thump silences it for a few minutes, but it soon chirps up again. That’s another job for the garage to have a look at.
Price: £18,520 (£22,365 as tested)
CO2 emissions (g/km): 224
Company car tax bill (2006) 22% tax-payer: £104 per month
Insurance group: 17
Combined mpg: 30.4
Test mpg: 23.5
CAP Monitor RV: £7,275/39%
Contract hire rate: £384
Expenditure to date: Nil
Figures based on three years/60,000 miles