I was looking at two cars: the Opel Astra OPC and the Ford Focus ST.
I have always loved the Opel cars (the Vauxhall/HSV VXR was my all time favourite), so when Opel came to Australia, I was hanging for the OPC to land. Once it did, I was all ready to get in one and have a drive. Unfortunately, it was not as inspiring as I had read about.
It was still a fantastic car to drive and it was well packaged with lots of features, but I was disappointed to find how heavy it felt and how expensive it was considering the ST was much cheaper and had just about the same amount of gear.
While I was still deciding between the two, Opel announced their departure from Australia. Reading about experiences from Opel owners on various forums and how they seemed to be treating the whole exit strategy, I was nervous. I love the OPC, but wasn't keen on forking out $40k+ on a car that was not going to be looked after post purchase from a warranty and servicing perspective.
I jumped behind the wheel of the ST and was instantly converted. The Recaro seats hugged me so tightly that they were practically inviting me to swing it through some twisty bends, which I did, and it was amazing. The Torque Vectoring Control handles the car so well for what is essentially an emulation of a real LSD, and the Goodyear Eagle F1 tyres stick to the road so well, I am amazed at how little wheel spin I get when planting the foot in a FWD car.
The SYNC system also works very well, I can almost control my entire phone by voice. Music is a bit of a challenge, however, as I have noticed that it relies on your music collection being named correctly for it to recognise an artist.
The handling for a standard FWD car is astonishing. I have always been someone to buy a car and then modify the things that I wanted a little extra performance out of. Where there are a lot of modified parts available for the ST from overseas, I am very happy with how it handles right out of the box.
Ford, you really have stepped it up a notch with this one.