ConorTwomey: Despite an endless procession of new hot hatchbacks, the Ford Focus ST is still the one for me. Yes, the Golf GTI is a better buy and yes, it’s a fine car in its own right but it just doesn’t have quite the same level of urgency and eagerness as the outstanding Focus. The Ford could do with a better cabin, though, and it’s a lot thirstier and more expensive to run than the Golf, too, but every time you slip behind the wheel you know you’re in for a treat. The Golf doesn’t connect in quite the same way, which is why the ST is champ in my book.
Paddy Comyn: When you take everything into account; I think this remains the best all-round hot-hatch package, unless you really want to spend a lot more money. When you consider that this car comes in at under €36,000, it is hard to look beyond the Focus ST. Because these cars are unlikely to be bought by anyone ‘by accident’ then this, for me, is the best car euro-for-euro. It is flattering to drive, great fun and looks awesome. Sure, it might not have a posh badge but buy it in orange and that will more than make up for it.
Shane O’Donoghue: It’s quite incredible stepping back into the Focus ST so long after it was launched. Though it has hardly aged on the outside, newer models are already showing up the interior, despite how well made and tactile it is. However, stir the lively five-pot engine into life and point the Blue Oval down your favourite piece of road and you’ll be reminded how good it really is. Dynamics like this don’t age. Not only is it adjustable and communicative, it manages to soak up the worst surfaces imaginable. Can the Golf GTI really hold it off? Brian Twomey: The Ford Focus ST was something of a surprise when we first drove it. Sure, it is fast with a 2.5-litre inline five-cylinder turbo engine and, like all current Ford models, is a great car to drive but it is also surprisingly refined and easy to live with; less exciting than the old RS model, perhaps, but easier to get on with day-today as well. It is a brilliant car to drive and it rides surprisingly smoothly, although the interior looks like a stock Focus with bits tacked on amateurishly and it doesn’t look as classy as a Golf GTI inside or out.
Ford Focus ST
Engine 2.5-litre 5-cylinder turbo, 225hp, 320Nmtorque
Transmission 6-speed manual
Acceleration 0-100 km/h: 6.8seconds
Top Speed 245 km/h
Economy 9.3 litres/100km
CO2 224 g/km
Weight 1,392 kg
Boot Capacity 385litres
Base Price €35,445
Price as Tested €36,075