Ford Focus St

It's all very well building a global car, but will the Americans, Chinese etc force Ford's new iconic hot hatch to lose its halls 7 Ben Pulman asks the men behind the new

PHOTOGRAPHY: JOHN WYGHERLEY

FAST FORDS AREN'T subtle. From dayglo orange STs to acid green KSs with airport-spec wings, go-faster offerings from the Blue Oval have never been about blending in.

Your typical customer just doesn't value discretion. So imagine my surprise when Ford of Europe's head of exterior design Stefan Lamm points to the new Focus ST and declares: 'We didn't want it to look like a tuner car. Our key goal was to create something which was sophisticated!' But hang on a minute, it's got a grille the size ofMalema's ego and looks like it's been dipped in marmalade. Stefan, are you sure you meant sophisticated? Between smirking and stifling a laugh, 1 try to imagine legions of GT1 customers trading in their Golfs for new 'sophisticated' STs - nope, can't see it.

Time to get serious though. This Mk3 Focus ST is the first of a new generation of fast Fords that are going global. Thanks to the One Ford philosophy hot-hatch lovers in SA will get the same car that's also sold in the UK, China, Australia, the USA, and everywhere in between. It could be the beginning of the end, the start of compromise after compromise. What if fat

Yanks want comfort-orientated suspension? And what about styling? In the hope of appealing to the masses the new N issan Micra is about as dull as watching paint dry. The last thing we want is for our beloved ST and RS models to become jacks of all trades.

This isn't going to happen with the new Focus ST. That its looks have caused a bit of controversy is a good thing, but I reckon the styling is an improvement. The nose of the regular five-door Focus (Ford has no plans for a three-door) with two opposing trapezoid grilles, flanked by two large triangular intakes, is too busy. 'Our key ►

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