Home' Open Road NSW Central Coast and Hunter : OR0317 Contents THE RUNNERS UP...
Best Sports Car
The Ford Focus ST rises to the challenge for the
second year in a row, with power, poise and great value
Engine: 2.0-litre turbo four-cylinder Transmission: six-speed manual
Power: 184kW Torque: 360Nm Fuel consumption: 7.3L/100km (claimed)
ANCAP: HHHHH Price: $43,028 (indicative drive away)
AUSTRALIANS HAVE ALWAYS HAD a love affair with
performance cars. Powered by six-cylinder and V8 engines,
Aussie muscle cars have dominated the sports car sales charts
for decades. Orders of Commodores or Falcons would spike on
the Monday, depending on who had won that weekend in the
muscle car races in the ’60s, ’ 70s and even into the ’80s.
However, with Holden and Ford closing operations in
Australia, and the Commodore and Falcon badges now destined
to adorn products from other parts of the globe, there are no
plans for replacement models to house V8s. This means the
four-cylinder turbocharged models that dominate this category
will become a lot more popular.
For the second year running, Ford’s Focus ST has taken out
this class, which is no mean feat given this segment carries a
varied line-up of affordable hot hatches, sedans and coupés.
Even its fire-breathing brother, the Focus RS, has created a stir
in the hot hatch market and threatened to overshadow the ST,
but its higher price tag separated the pair in this competition.
With a 38-point gap between the Focus ST and the second-
placed Ford Fiesta ST, there was no denying it offered the best
bang for buck. The Focus ST was a clear winner in design and
function, helped, in part, by boasting the best seats in its class.
They are well bolstered and provide good comfort and support
whether you’re on the track or a country road. Ford’s clever
Sync2 system, combined with the eight-inch touchscreen and sat
nav, saw the Focus ST also voted the class leader for ergonomics.
The Focus ST was equal class-leading for performance and
braking with the Holden Astra VXR – not surprising given its
2.0 -litre turbo engine pumps out 184kW and 360Nm. It also
comes with a six-speed manual for a better sports car feel.
Starting life as a regular Focus, which has always been at
the top end for handling in the small car stakes, the Focus ST
gets lots of extra goodies in addition to a more powerful
engine. These include sports-tuned suspension, Recaro seats
(driver and front passenger), a sports body kit, bi-xenon HID
headlights, LED daytime running lights, dual centre exhaust,
18-inch alloy wheels, sports alloy pedal covers, Ford SYNC
emergency assistance and an alarm. In fact, its standard
features list leaves daylight between it and all but one other
contender in this class, the Subaru WRX.
For a reasonable price, the Ford Focus ST offers a lot, and
back-to-back wins further cement its credibility as a hot hatch.
2ND PLACE Ford Fiesta ST
Fun with a capital ‘F’ – the baby Fiesta
always brings a smile to the judges’
faces when put through its paces at
testing week. No matter how much you
throw it around, it stays balanced,
composed and predictable.
The Fiesta ST’s 1.6-litre engine
produces 134kW and 240Nm and is
well-matched to the six-speed manual
gearbox. The sports suspension has
been tuned to emphasise the car’s
surefooted behaviour and sharp turn-in.
At just under $30,000 on the road,
the Fiesta ST is the third cheapest in its
class. This, combined with good fuel
economy and low running costs, sees it
one of the top scorers in value for
money. It’s not strong for standard
equipment, but there’s a whole swag of
cars in this category that are worse.
THE RUNNERS UP...
Renault Clio RS 200 Cup
This baby hot hatch was down the list last
year, with its bigger brother the Megane
RS snatching the silver medal. However,
movement in the class has given the
Renault Clio RS 200 Cup a big boost.
It has a strong 1.6 -litre turbocharged
engine that produces 147kW and 240Nm.
It’s a great handling hatch with good
safety, performance and ride comfort,
but some quirks work against it. The
cruise control turns on via a button down
near the centre console and the other
buttons are hidden behind the steering
wheel, plus its dual-clutch gearbox is
irksome and there’s no manual available.
The Clio RS didn’t score well against
its rivals for standard features but it
still has a good equipment list and is
covered by a five-year factory warranty.
The Fiesta (above) and the Clio (below).
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13/02/2017 9:50 am
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