I have owned numerous 'hot hatches' in the past, including a 2008 Ford Focus XR5 Turbo, 2015 VW Golf R manual and a 2013 Ford Focus ST.
I wanted a new car with strong performance and practicality as I have two young children to cart around from time to time.
When looking at a replacement for my 2013 Ford Focus ST, I wanted something with character but less torque steer as I didn't fancy ending up in the scenery.
I looked at a newer generation Golf R but they don't come in manual anymore and I like to be part of the driving experience. In addition (I will probably be hated for this next comment) my previous Golf R, although quick and efficient, was dull and left you feeling disconnected from the whole experience. There is no doubt they offer great comfort and the ability to travel very quickly but in the land of Australia the limit is 110 km/h at most.
When test driving the 2020 Focus ST, I was impressed with the space inside compared to the previous model. The overall feel was of greater quality although not up to the quality of a VW interior.
The cost of around $50k on-road isn't cheap but I think there is a lot of car for the money, especially noting that we get the full fruit performance pack model including electronically adjustable dampers.
As a driver's car, the 2020 Focus ST is impressive. Mine has the updated digital dash which is quite like a PlayStation in a good way. The electronic gizmos, ie LSD diff and previous generation RS gearbox do an amazing job of reigning in 420Nm of torque and over 200kW through the front wheels.
The performance is said to be the same as a previous generation Focus RS over the quarter mile, and when on the move it is quicker in some increments due to less weight.
We all (car enthusiasts) go on and on about 0-100km/h times and power-to-weight figures. Admittedly, so do I but I have no intention of using launch control at all. What we don't go on about is torque. The pulling power of the 2.3-litre (adapted from the previous generation Focus RS) is awesome in any gear. The car is so engaging, and acceleration and braking are impressive.
There is very slight torque steer when pressing on but nothing like the unruly uncontrollable mess the previous generation became.
It is sad that there will be no more Ford petrol hot hatches as Ford have been building them for some time. This model is the end of the line as Ford already announced there are no more Focus RS models.
It is the end of an era which means hybrid/electric is on the way. This car may become collectable one day (don't laugh) as when something can't be bought new, old ones increase in value.
In Europe, Focus STs have a cult following but not so much in Australia. This is both good and bad - good as 'boy racers' aren't as inclined to annoy you, and bad as street credibility isn't as high as, say, a Golf R.
One gripe is that you can't really adjust all driving modes as in a Golf R, so Sport and Race for example come with the preset steering which can feel a little weird at times. It would be better if you could have it in these modes with normal steering. This is really splitting hairs as this would make a great car even better.
The noise of this thing is great! It is almost like the much lauded 5-pot in previous generations, which is accompanied by the greatest backfiring. This is something my wife doesn't understand. This is all the more reason to love it! There are backfires on upshifts and downshifts in Sport or Race mode when driving becoming eager, but in other modes they disappear. The engine note is always eager - its baritone notes and the way it drives are like a mini muscle car. Great car, Ford!