The traditional color of Ford sports cars is bright blue. Or, as the Ford men themselves call it, “performance blue.” However, at the presentation of the new charged Ford Focus ST, only branded oval emblems were blue. The action was arranged in bright orange. Of course, there was a lot of gagging about the anniversary of the Ukrainian Maidan, but the unusual color of the car did its job: cars the color of "mad carrots" or overripe orange invariably attracted attention. Gentlemen, the journalists, having barely sat until the end of the mandatory press conference, immediately grabbed the orange “tricks”. Less agile had to be content with not so bright colors: gray, white, silver - or, at worst, “performance blue”.
Alas, I missed my piece of orange happiness: the gray “Focus ST” did not cause sunny emotions. It only remained to close the door, start the engine and go, forgetting about the sad mouse color of the car. Everything at once fell into place: the car turned out to be clockwork and energetic, fast and emotional, unexpected and controversial.
The first thing pleased the engine. The unit, created on the basis of the famous five-cylinder Volvo engine, combines the dynamics and sharpness of the response to the pedal with confident traction from the lowest revs. The motor is fast, but there is no racing confusion in it, when all the strength and power wakes up somewhere upstairs, and with a quiet ride, you just think how not to stall and frantically distort the gears. And then you roll yourself calmly, do not touch anyone, but if necessary, just press the pedal, realizing that very few rivals can respond to such acceleration. In addition, usually much more powerful and expensive.
At first the suspension showed what was expected of it: a clear and rather rigid transmission of all the minor roughnesses of the road to the fifth point of the driver. Now I’ll go faster, more holes will appear, and this “Ford” will shake my bones. No matter how! Even the speed is higher, and the asphalt on the local tracks is worse, and I had to grab the curb a couple of times. And the suspension swallows all this with unexpected comfort for a sporty setting - and at the same time, the car rests on the pavement reliably and confidently. The feeling that the serial “Ford” was simply equipped with more rigid shock absorbers.
In fact, everything is much more complicated. The suspension was used conventional, from the "Focus", but a lot of changes have been made. The ground clearance is reduced by 15 mm, the rebound and compression moves are changed, more rigid silent blocks are applied, the stiffness of the springs and stabilizers has changed, the shock absorbers have different characteristics. And finally, for the sake of better behavior on the road, the body has been modified - it has become even tougher.
The brakes did not cause any complaints - they worked without problems. The anti-lock braking system and the stabilization system intervened in the driver’s actions in a timely and delicate manner - thank you very much for that.
The sound hit the cabin. It seems that under the hood there are not five cylinders, but all eight, and not two and a half liters, but at least twice as much. How juicy the engine mumbles! They say that the sound was tuned specifically to flatter the pride of future owners. After all, an ordinary turbocharged engine only squeals a solid squeak …
Deep, with good seat support, is not at all a luxury for a fast, charged car. The Recaro seats installed in Focus ST hold the driver's (and passenger's) body perfectly in turns. True, these same lateral supports have pretty badly ripped my ribs. But, as Rabbit said from the fairy tale about Winnie the Pooh: "This is someone who eats too much."
Now it's time to grumble a little. Thinking about what to criticize, I realized that the least I liked was … steering. The car responds to the steering wheel very quickly and clearly - Ford engineers modified this function specifically. But the feedback is clearly not enough - the steering wheel is too light and, as they say, “empty”. While driving quietly, you simply do not pay attention to it. The higher the pace, the more noticeable is the lack of information on the steering wheel. This is probably the result of a compromise: after all, such a car must be fast, stable on the road, well managed. At the same time - adapted to everyday driving on ordinary roads and not cause problems for the average driver. And also safety requirements, environmental standards …
Compromise is essentially a sacrifice: improving one thing, you have to sacrifice another. What did Ford engineers sacrifice to create Focus ST? In my opinion, behavior in extreme modes. The car is good with a calm, measured ride. It can go fast, even very fast. "Focus" is ready to satisfy the ambitions of the driver and at the same time prove to be reliable, obedient, safe. And only when you go along the racetrack, you begin to understand that you are ready to exchange comfort and convenience for rigidity, rudeness, noise - if only the car becomes even clearer, more understandable, unequivocal in management. Now estimate: how often does the owner of such a machine have to practice on the racetrack? It is extremely rare, and even then not for everyone. But to drive and drive on ordinary roads - almost daily. So the bias towards everyday convenience and comfort is understandable, and the compromise called “Ford Focus ST” can be considered successful.
For two days I traveled on several ST: gray, white, even corporate blue. I never got a car of a juicy, carrot-orange color. It’s a pity, I didn’t even ask what the name of this insanely bright color is called.
HEROES OF ESTABLISHED TIMES
A good pedigree is an important thing for a car with sporting ambitions. Focus has worthy ancestors. The small “Escort” of the late 1960s seems ridiculous today: it travels slowly, drives poorly, slows down hardly. But let's make a discount on age: in his youth he was a real fighter.
The rally car created on its basis won the most difficult marathon "London - Mexico City".
A solid "Ford Capri" at the age when a touch of old-fashioned is already felt, but it’s too early to register with grandfathers. It seems that it accelerates vigorously, goes fast, but a turn is approaching, but the car does not want to slow down. Phew!
I got into a turn, you just need to press the pedal from the heart. And you’re used to that electronics will do everything for you.
Sierra RS is already our time. Such a device is in good condition and today will give odds to many. It was worth adapting a little to shifting gears with your left hand (the car is right-hand drive) and got out of the steering wheel completely got sick. So I would wind circles - not a car, but pure pleasure!
But there were also Escort Cosworth, Puma, Cougar …
White “Fiesta”, bright orange “Focus”, blue “Mondeo” - three charged “Fords”. Each is the most powerful and fastest in its family. It would seem that a certain similarity, close feelings, similar behavior on the road can be expected from cars. High-speed track showed that this is not so. What unites these machines is the name and the blue oval of the emblem.
The youngest is Focus. It successfully combines high comfort and ease of management with the athlete's remarkable capabilities. Obeys the driver perfectly, behaves perfectly even in the fastest turns, but … The higher the speed, the more distinct the feeling that the car is trying to be self-willed. As if the driver’s actions were not an order for him, but only information for reflection, and he would execute any command only by passing through himself. “Focus” reacts to the actions of a person behind the wheel quickly, clearly, but in its own way. Sometimes it seems that the car corrects its owner, when he in excitement begins to lose his head. Smart device, you can’t say anything.