The secret diary of a motoring journalist aged 39¾'ish


2nd November 2020

Quick check of the diary this morning shows a Ford Focus ST is set to arrive. Much smiling and anticipation. Then I clock it’s the 2.0-litre EcoBlue version and not a petrol-powered model. Ah, that’ll rein in the fun, then, says my inner doom and gloom merchant. Still, when the car pitches up, it appears just like an ST should with big wheels, jutting chin spoiler and rear diffuser. Things may be looking up.
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Appearances on the inside are just as positive this morning as I head for a first drive in the ST. The seats are that ideal blend of sporty looks and comfort, with embracing side bolsters that hold you in place without pinching on the ribs. Another often overlooked Focus feature is the ideal driving position and the way it offers good all-round vision, even if the rear pillars limit the over-the-shoulder view for reversing and swapping lanes.
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A trip into Edinburgh today means mostly motorway miles and this is where the ST EcoBlue proves its company car credentials. This car has a six-speed manual gearbox to give a suitably sporting air on back roads, yet it settles to a long-legged lope on the motorway that sees the Focus comfortably match its claimed upper best combined economy of 56.5mpg. Overall, the car is averaging 51.0mpg, which ain’t bad for a car that can crank out 0-62mph in 7.6 seconds.
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Scanning through the spec sheet for this car today shows it has a list price of £30,575 and some keen lease deals available. Given the economy and okay-ish 148g/km carbon dioxide emissions, the ST EcoBlue makes an intriguing alternative to its petrol-fuelled hot hatch rivals. Granted, it’s not as quick off the mark, but it covers ground swiftly and its running costs are lower to save you a fair bundle over the duration of a lease.
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Mention of ground-swallowing ability yesterday has me hankering after a drive just for the sake of it in the Focus ST. So, when the kids are off to school, Dad’s off for a re-run of his youth over some favourite roads. By the end of this hour or so’s indulgence, my admiration for this Focus has increased considerably. Its handling is unflappable, the steering communicative and the brakes strong, but what’s best is it still has a manual gearbox. This is the essence of a hot hatch for me – the engagement it has with its driver – and the Ford’s transmission is a peach.
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Popped over to see a photographer friend this morning to get some family snaps for the album. As you’d expect, the Focus carted Mrs S and the kids in comfort and with space to spare. Not as much space as my friend’s latest acquisition, though, which is a 1980s Mercedes W123 limousine. This car was built in-house by Mercedes and has just the right mix of regal and 1980s cop show sinister.
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I started this week as a sceptic about the notion of a diesel-engined fast Ford, and I know there are plenty of other doubters out there. However, this has turned out to be a thoroughly good car that offers a slightly different take on the theme. Straight line speed is sacrificed for economy, but it’s the handling of the Focus ST still shines through and that’s what makes it quick and entertaining where it counts in the corners.
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