THERE will, inevitably, come a day when the internal combustion engine finally turns its last turn and a thousand characterful engine notes will become a distant memory.
Thankfully that day has yet to dawn, so in the meantime I can quite openly enjoy the Focus ST’s five-cylinder soundtrack.
What an inspired choice for a power unit; at one extreme it is content to potter quietly in slow-moving traffic at barely higher than tick-over speeds without tantrum, yet at the other snap open the accelerator, and from 2,500 to 5,500rpm Beelzebub himself stirs from the darkest depths of the engine compartment, and the turbocharger chimes in to add to the excitement.
As a performance package the ST is pretty well complete: it also has phenomenal levels of grip, with impeccable manners – even in the recent sorry excuse of a ‘cold snap’ – and the switchable steering (comfort or sport via the settings sub-menu on the left-hand column stalk) is beautifully weighted and responsive when left in sport.
Electric Orange seems to be popular with ST buyers, and all those I’ve seen – bar one, in metallic blue – have been orange. But what effect will the colour’s popularity, now, have on orange STs once more start appearing on the used car market; will there be a glut and a downturn in values or will the ST be one of those rare beasts that transcends trends to become an automotive ‘icon’… no matter the hue?
Two little gripes after all the praise: our ST is a three-door and those heavily-bolstered Recaro front seats severely restrict the seat backrest’s ability to tip forward to allow rear seat access, and all the air-conditioning buttons placed around the touchscreen display are too small and close together but, more importantly, they’re out of view when driving so you have to look away from the road to use them.
Typically though, with the treatment meted out, it has taken its toll on the front tyres – with about 3mm of tread remaining they’re close to replacement – and my test average of 24.3mpg is still a country mile off the ST’s claimed 30.4mpg.
Price: £18,250 (as tested £22,365)
CO2 emissions (g/km): 224
Company car tax bill (2007) 22% tax-payer: £104 per month
Combined mpg: 30.4
Test mpg: 24.3
CAP Monitor RV: £7,175/38%
Contract hire rate: £402
Expenditure to date: Nil