We zijn nu net halverwege onze ‘lange termijn test’ met de Ford Focus ST Estate, en viel het me op dat we hem meer hebben geprezen om z’n bruikbaarheid, dan over z’n weggedrag en dat maken we goed in deel 2.
Lees het volledige 2e artikel hieronder in het Engels, link naar deel 1 elders op deze pagina:
Second Report: Our hot hatch Ford Focus ST estate car is providing fun and function in equal measure
We’re just over halfway through our term with the Ford Focus ST Estate now, and it struck me that we’ve eulogised about its practicality more than its on-road
That’s not to say that the Focus isn’t up to coping with family life. Quite the opposite, in fact; I’ve already become dangerously accustomed to just opening the wagon’s boot and hurling all sorts of clutter in there for days out. My son’s bicycle (and assorted clobber), bags full of wellies, the odd coolbag – you name it, the ST estate swallows it. We’re just over halfway through our term with the Ford Focus ST Estate now, and it struck me that we’ve eulogised about its practicality more than its on-road behaviour. And that was a bit of a mistake.
So yes, the Focus is continuing to impress me with its practicality. But driving it is so much more fun than loading stuff into the boot – and on that score, Ford does such a great job of nailing the basics.
The Focus’s control weights are all right at the top of the class for me. Some people think the steering is a tad heavy but I find its weight pleasing, and it’s supremely accurate, making it easy to position the car’s nose as you enter a corner. The pedals are neatly spaced, allowing more scope for heeling-and-toeing than you’ll get in many family cars – although of course, switching into the car’s more extreme Sport mode activates electronic rev matching on downshifts.
The gearshift is perhaps not quite as sweet as the one you’ll find in a Civic Type R – there’s just something about the short throw that Honda offers – but it’s a match for anything else in the class, with a positive action that helps to keep you really involved.
The chassis does the rest – and boy, does it deliver – but with one caveat: the Focus is firm by the standards of a conventional family car; occasionally my six-year-old son will pipe up from his car seat to tell me, “This is a bumpy road!” when in fact it’s just a regular British town centre street.
But the ride is far from intolerable and the trade-off is a spectacular one. This car loves to dance from corner to corner, to be pointed towards the inside of a bend and then pushed hard as you accelerate out of it. I’ve been lucky enough to try dozens of great hot hatches over the past 20 years and I’m convinced that this ST is right up there with the best of them. It’s a hoot.
Can I tell that our car is an estate and not the regular five-door? I think I’d really need to be on a track day to determine the fine differences, beyond the slightest extra hesitation when it comes to rapid changes of direction, caused by the extra mass further back in the Focus’s chassis. But we’re talking narrow margins here; in the most part, it’s very easy to be sucked into our orange estate’s agility and performance along a back road. And that, to me, is the sign of a great hot hatch, wagon or otherwise.
The ‘aural enhancement’ on the Focus’s 2.3-litre four-cylinder engine is supposedly meant to make it sound like an old rally Escort. As a long-time fan of that branch of motorsport, I’m not sure it quite matches the screaming BDA engine in Ari Vatanen’s old Mk2 – but there’s something about its relatively gruff lower notes that does make me think of a competition engine idling.
Elsewhere, I can report that the Focus’s heated seats get very toasty very quickly, and our car’s heated steering wheel has also come in handy over the winter months.
This increased enjoyment of the Ford’s performance means I’ve also come to rely (quite heavily) on the speed limiter, which is activated via a steering-wheel switch. It’s great because pressing the button tells the limiter to kick in at whatever speed you’re currently doing – and it doesn’t remember this if you flick it off and back on again.
I like that functionality, because it means I can come from, say, a 60mph zone with the limiter set appropriately, and then, as I brake and enter a 30mph area, a double-press of the LIM button keeps me safe and legal without having to muck around decreasing the selected speed manually.
The Focus ST Estate is a brilliant all-rounder. It’s as practical as we could want while also delivering the kind of driving thrills we’ve come to expect from cars with the ST badge on the boot.
Source | AutoExpress.co.uk