The Ford Focus ST with tweakage by Mountune. Available on new and used STs, the Mountune St receives engine tuning – the chassis remains unfettled. A larger intercooler, new air filters and electronic map push power up form 222bhp to a mighty 256bhp and the torque swells by 59lb ft to 259 lb ft – and all for $1120 plus two hours of labour. The result is knockout 5.9 sec 0-62mph sprint but, more importantly, a vast amount of real-world performance form the charming, warbly turbo five cylinder engine. Few cars overtake like the Mountune STi; turbo lag and gear selection simply aren’t an issue. Just prod that right pedal and go. Indeed the Sti chassis copes with the extra horses with aplomb. Torque steer is only a problem when exiting slow corners and traction on the exit of medium speed bends is greater than the type-frying but similarly powered Astra. The Focus is a ‘softer’ driving experience compared with other cars, but it’s this squidge (technical term) that affords the Focus a degree of feedback when grip turns to slip.
In contrast when the Astra breaks traction it’s often sudden and you have little choice but to back off and wait for the chassis to regain composure; with the Focus you are aware of the limit approaching and you can power through it or adjust your trajectory with an accurate lift. Grumbles are few. The seat is too high, the gearshift vague and some may find the STi overall refinement unbecoming of a 256bhp hot-hatch. In fact, at the end of our test some wondered if the Focus’s character was more suited to the next class up.