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Fascination: Dream again in the Focus ST: Fast Ford – off to the racetrack

Fascination: Dream again in the Focus ST: Fast Ford – off to the racetrack

The term “Fast Ford” is not only very popular in Great Britain. For the driving dynamics experts it is the salt of the earth – a high-performance athlete for the common man – for others it is a crook’s car with which you can perform spectacular stunts in the local McDonald’s parking lot.

Admittedly, I’m leaning towards the latter, as I’m a paying member of the British Golf GTI Club. Maybe the Ford Performance department can forgive me if a Focus with a track pack hasn’t aroused any enthusiasm among me. Anyone who has ever taken part in a track day like this can hardly avoid mental excursions into the world of automotive accessories. Wheels, tires, brakes and suspension are the components that are replaced first before riding on the circuit. The problem is that hardly anyone is a qualified racing engineer, so it’s hardly surprising that most of us don’t have the slightest idea what exactly we’re buying. And even worse: how we should adjust the newly purchased components. It’s no wonder that there are heated discussions in forums and social networks about which coilovers or wheel/tire combinations are most beneficial.

That brings us back to the Focus ST’s “Track Pack.” It seems that Ford has a special eye on tuning fans, because the contents of the 3,000 EUR track pack read like a textbook: wheels, tires, brakes and suspension, all upgraded for perfect use on the racetrack. The vehicle sits on 19-inch wheels from Ford Performance, which are equipped with grippy Pirelli P Zeros. Brembo has also developed a larger front brake system with 363 mm discs and gigantic brake calipers. The chassis from KW can be adjusted in both directions over the entire height. Just in time to bring the 206 kW / 280 hp of the turbocharged four-cylinder engine onto the road, because ultimately the 420 Nm maximum torque noticeably tugs on the front axle at the limit. “Our Focus ST Track Pack combines high-end technical components to make the hot car for enthusiasts truly suitable for the racetrack,” says Stefan Münzinger, responsible for the performance models at Ford, “optimizing an adjustable chassis, powerful brakes and grippy tires the performance, body control and track durability for maximum driving pleasure – and that’s what this car is all about.”

Things get wild when you look into the glove compartment, because there is the chassis tool set with Ford’s cheat sheet on how to optimally use the setting options. It not only helps with adjusting the shock absorbers and vehicle height for various scenarios such as road, GP track or Nürburgring, but it even lists the optimal tire pressure – neatly separated for hot and cold tires. Even the most outspoken GTI fan is visibly excited. All very impressive, but the car is not just a race track machine and tuning a car can ruin its everyday usability. Also because the Focus ST can reach speeds of up to 250 km/h on the motorway.

The sports seats, which can also be found in the Puma ST and other performance models, offer comfort and lateral support like only a few other series chairs in the competitive environment. The driving position is notoriously good and offers a wide range of adjustment options, while the interior feels remarkably spacious compared to some rival models. The center of the dashboard is dominated by a large 13.2-inch touchscreen that, annoyingly, controls almost everything. Fortunately, Ford has retained some physical buttons elsewhere, including on the overly chunky ST steering wheel. Thanks to the seemingly endless adjustability of the cup holders, spilling drinks during a hot lap at the Silverstone circuit is finally a thing of the past.

Push-button start brings the slightly evil-sounding 2.3-litre Ecoboost engine to life, accompanied by a flash of the ST logo on the fully digital dashboard and a notification that you’re wearing a seatbelt. Only after briefly deactivating this unnecessary information does the entire display come to life. When exiting the pothole-strewn village road, the Focus hints at its race track genes with its slightly stiffer suspension. However, this does not come at the expense of comfort. When the posted 30 km/h limit gives way to the 60 km/h limit, the adjustable suspension quickly shows its value. Even on the most broken British roads, all four wheels remain in contact with the road.

After a few kilometers it becomes clear – the sports version of the Focus drives impressively. For me, the power delivery is absolutely at VW level, and even if the engine sound isn’t exactly inspiring, the crackling and crackling when coasting amuses my childish self. But there is nothing childish about the serenity, as the chassis is impressive in its broad spectrum. The P-Zeros hit reach their limits faster than I and the Focus ST would like. A pity!

The bottom line is that the Track Pack in the Focus is a great thing. The chassis is getting better, the compact Ford is noticeably faster and the fun factor is increasing. Fast-plowed country roads are particularly fun to drive, with the Focus having fun swinging its rear from the middle of the curve. Thanks to the lock and chassis, the grip remains impressive and leaves even drivers of significantly higher class vehicles speechless. That’s exactly what “Fast Ford” is as we know it. As Ford, like other manufacturers, ramps up their production of electric cars, the question arises as to whether the Fast Fords will ever again be as convincing as they are with the Focus ST. If this is indeed the last hurrah for affordable sports cars for everyone, it’s at least a fitting swansong. Zaid Hamid; press information

Source: Stern

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