2012 Ford Focus ST hot hatch unveiled in production form

September 13th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Fans of Ford’s performance offerings have something to celebrate this week with the official reveal of the new Focus ST. Known in NZ as the Focus XR5 Turbo, the new ST will debut in production guise at this week’s 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show and in the lead up, details and images have reached the web.

While the production hot hatch isn’t a significant departure from its concept predecessor, what’s really interesting is the inclusion of a station wagon body in the Focus ST range. Sadly, this performance wagon won’t reach as many global markets as the hatch and will likely be a European only offering, so don’t expect to see any down here in NZ.

Both the hatch and wagon feature the same 2.0-litre EcoBoost four-cylinder under the bonnet with a power output of 186kW and a healthy 360Nm of max torque. The high-tech engine comes mated to a 6-speed manual that pushes grunt to the front wheels only. That’s a lot of power for the front treads to handle so Ford has worked hard to avoid torque-steer issues with its electronic power assisted steering and torque steer compensation system. Both systems work together to minimize the wheel-tugging effects often associated with high power front-wheel drivers. Continue reading “2012 Ford Focus ST hot hatch unveiled in production form” »

Ford Focus XR5 Turbo 2010 Review

April 23rd, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

Like many Kiwis, this writer long had a thing for Ford’s hotter versions of its small passenger vehicles. This fancy has over the years been partially satisfied, once by owning a Laser S and soon after an Escort XR3i. But for each occasion my wants were appeased there have been other fast Fords that I have regrettably never tasted. I’m not alone in my passion either, there’s something in the sporty Fords that really appeals to us here in NZ. Is it the reasonable priced attainability? Or is it the sleeves-rolled-up, blue-collar nature of these machines?

The answers may lay with Ford’s current go-fast offering in NZ – the Focus XR5 Turbo. While it’s not the top-spec Focus RS, which never made it here, the XR5 is no softie and I had a weeklong date with the hot hatch. So we set off on a quest to see if the XR5 shares the same assets of its revered ancestors.

Now in its second generation the Focus has undergone a facelift that has brought with it a more purposeful aesthetic. While only sharing minimal design DNA with its Escort forefather the XR5 has a refreshed face with reworked headlights and a flatter looking grille. At the rear it’s all business with a new tailgate and diffuser-styled bumper sitting above the twin exhaust outlets that signal speedy intent. Finishing the athletic look is a wide body-kit and distinctive Y-spoke 18-inch alloys. Overall, the XR5 is a real looker; it encompasses all the muscular styling cues hot hatch buyers look for and despite being in the latter stages of its lifecycle appears modern and suitably aggressive.

Continue reading “Ford Focus XR5 Turbo 2010 Review” »

Ford Mondeo XR5 2008 Review

October 2nd, 2008 by Darren Cottingham

ford-mondeo-xr5-fq

If the automotive world went ‘Euro’ it wouldn’t necessarily be all that bad.

Looking at it only from an engineering and style perspective there would be no downside at all (except for the occasional weird big-bum Renault).

Given the current price of oil, companies investing heavily in future technologies and general financial stress internationally, rationalisation is now something that car makers will look at even more seriously.

Ford has announced that it will rationalise its global platforms to cut costs, and for those of you like myself who enjoy cars like the Falcon XR6 Turbo that could be bad news.

This also means that the Mondeo XR5 could be the future of sporting Ford saloons world-wide.

The new Mondeo XR5 is not a bad looking car despite the small wheel arches making it look like a shopping trolley which is strange given that the alloys are a decent (18-inch) size. The strongly sculpted front is the feature point of the XR5 and spreads its message all the way around the front fenders and along the side. It is a good-looking front end which won¹t be mistaken of the road.

The waistline is high and it has a small glass area which imbues a sense of security but also a slight sense of claustrophobia.

Inside it is very nice (Ford has really pulled ahead in this area) with a strong feeling of solidity and quality to the interior architecture. The instrument binnacle in particular deserves a mention for the way the screen between the tacho and speedo presents all information in one easy to see place.

It is quite a big car too, feeling not that much smaller than Falcons of two or three generations ago. The Mondeo has European ideas about size. It is a large car in the UK the way a Falcon is a large car here. It won’t be as accommodating as a Falcon but it is big enough for an average family.

I thought that the XR5 would go like a scorched possum given that it shares its turbocharged 5-cylinder engine with both the Focus XR5 and Volvo C30.

The engine produces a decent amount of torque low down but becomes extremely asthmatic above 4500rpm, making it a real chore to stretch it out to the redline. With little enjoyment to be had from using the full rev-range you start to drive the XR5 like a diesel, using the torque and short-shifting your way along every road. This is a disappointment as the Mondeo XR5 is supposed to be a sporting saloon. In the UK the Mondeo is seen as a driver’s car and is known for great handling. While this is true as the XR5 does handle quite well for a biggish front-wheel-drive car, the engine lets the rest of the package down as does the gear shift with throws between gears being long and ponderous.

The lack of performance in the engine department is a real let down as I was expecting a great handling large car that could fill the performance gap between the Focus XR5 and Falcon XR6 Turbo.

The performance isn’t stupendous and it doesn’t really surprise you when going round corners but the Mondeo XR5 really scares me. My fear doesn’t stem from anything that the XR5 does, but more what it represents. In this part of the world the fastest Fords have always been rear wheel-drive, but with the company struggling financially, big cars – like the Falcon – could soon be history.

What this means is that there is the possibility, however slim, that the next Falcon could be front wheel-drive like the Mondeo and that is not good news for enthusiasts.

It does, however, add some much-needed grunt to the Mondeo range ­ not enough compared to the benchmark set by the Focus XR5, though – and is a practical choice for those with a small family.

Click through to the next page to read the full specifications of the Ford Mondeo XR5

Price: from $48,990

What we like

  • Punchy low-end acceleration
  • Interior quality and ergonomics
  • Sporty ride

What we don’t like

  • Future Ford possibilities
  • Asthmatic top-end delivery
  • Vague gearshift

Engine & Transmission

Feature

Mondeo XR5 Turbo

2.5L Duratec Turbo Petrol with 6 Speed Manual

S

Engine

Feature

Mondeo XR5 Turbo

Engine Type (Automatic)

2.5L Duratec I5 Turbo Petrol

Engine size (cc) (Automatic)

2521

Max. Power (DIN)

162kW @ 5000rpm

Max. Torque (DIN)

320Nm @ 1500-4800rpm

No. of valves

20

Exterior Features

Dimensions (mm) Exterior

Feature

Mondeo XR5 Turbo

Overall length

4778

Overall height

1500

Overall width (without mirrors)

1886

Overall width (with mirrors)

2078

Wheelbase

2850

Front track

1589

Rear track

1605

Ground clearance (minimum)

103

Dimensions (mm) Interior

Feature

Mondeo XR5 Turbo

Front headroom

996

Front legroom (maximum)

1126

Front shoulder room

1448

Rear headroom

965

Rear legroom (nominal 95% driver position)

950

Rear shoulder room

1433

Weights and Measurements

Feature

Mondeo XR5 Turbo

Kerb weight (kg) (Automatic)

1581

Fuel tank capacity (litres)

70

Rear seat upright

486

Rear seat folded

1390

Braked (Automatic)

1800

Unbraked

700

Transmissions and Ratios

Feature

Mondeo XR5 Turbo

1st gear ratio (Automatic)

3.390

2nd gear ratio (Automatic)

1.910

3rd gear ratio (Automatic)

1.270

4th gear ratio (Automatic)

0.950

5th gear ratio (Automatic)

0.780

6th gear ratio (Automatic)

0.650

Reverse ratio (Automatic)

3.230

Final drive ratio (Automatic) 4.000

Fuel Consumption Data

Feature

Mondeo XR5 Turbo

Combined fuel economy (l/100km) (Automatic)*

9.315

Combined CO2 emissions (g/km) (Automatic)

22222

Euro IV compliance

S

Fuel

91-98 RON (E10 Compatible)

Brakes

Feature

Mondeo XR5 Turbo

Anti-lock Braking System with Electronic Brakeforce Distribution

S

Dynamic Stability Control (including Traction Assist & Emergency Brake Assist)23

S

4 wheel disc brakes (ventilated front / solid rear)

S

Front (mm) ventilated

300 x 28

Rear (mm) solid

302 x 11

Emergency brake light (Hazard warning light)

S

Steering

Feature

Mondeo XR5 Turbo

Minimum turning circle (m) (kerb to kerb)

11.45

Hydraulic power-assisted steering

S

Suspension

Feature

Mondeo XR5 Turbo

Front – Independent MacPherson struts with offset coil spring over gas filled damper units and lower L-arms with optimised front rubber bushings and rear hydro-bush mounted on separate reinforced cross-member sub-frame, anti roll bar

S

Rear – Independent Control Blade multi-link system, isolated subframe, anti-roll bar

S

Wheels & Tyres

Feature

Mondeo XR5 Turbo

18″ x 8″ Y-spoke alloy with R235/40 R18 tyres

S

Full size spare wheel

S

Safety & Security

Feature

Mondeo XR5 Turbo

5-star Euro NCAP Safety Rating

S

Anti-lock Braking System with Electronic Brakeforce Distribution

S

Dynamic Stability Control (including Emergency Brake Assist)

S

Traction Assist

S

Driver and front passenger airbags

S

Front row side airbags (x2)

S

Driver’s knee airbag

S

Front & rear side curtain airbags

S

Side impact door beams (front and rear)

S

4 wheel disc brakes (ventilated front / solid rear)

S

Remote power central/double locking

S

Locks – Anti-burst, high-security, shielded with child-locks on rear doors

S

Emergency brake light (Hazard warning light)

S

Follow-me-home lighting

S

Front seatbelt pre-tensioners

S

Seatbelt reminder system – driver and front passenger seats

S

Height adjustable mounts on front seatbelts

S

Decoupling safety pedals

S

Advanced collapsible steering column

S

Immobiliser – Passive Anti-Theft Syatem (PATS)

S

Perimeter Alarm

S

ISOFIX child seat attachments (rear outboard seats only)

S

Words Ben Dillon, photos Darren Cottingham

Ford Focus XR5 Turbo 2007 Review

December 21st, 2007 by Darren Cottingham

Ford Focus XR5 turbo 2007 fq

Fifteen seconds was all it took for me to get the approving nod. It’s a special nod that guys give to other guys when the nodder appreciates something that the noddee is driving. In this case it was the highly conspicuous bright orange Ford Focus XR5 Turbo. I had literally pulled out of the Ford dealership and up to a set of lights and said nodder nodded. Pride and manly camaraderie welled up inside me.

Being the noddee, you don’t want to have to then pull away in a vehicle that’s all show and no go (and especially not a car that’s all show but sounds like a sewing machine). I then performed an exemplary demonstration of noddee gratitude — it’s not about accelerating away as fast as possible or lingering and waiting; it’s about taking off with enough beans so that the nodder can appreciate both the engine’s tone and the car’s constrained and tamed aggression. Very complex is the psychology of nodding.

My restrained acceleration wasn’t satisfying for me though, because the best part of the Focus XR5 is the almost V8-like engine tone that roars when you unleash all the horses available, and from an inline five-cylinder turbo, no less. Filter out the slightly annoying turbo whistle and it’s like P Diddy has remixed an Alfa Romeo 147 GTA and an HSV GTS and won a Grammy with it. It’s a sonorous but determined anger that emanates from beneath the bonnet and I just never tired of burying the throttle and letting it wrap around to 6500rpm.

All this joy comes from a 2.5-litre inline five-cylinder mill that produces 222hp. This is sufficient to get the XR5 to 100kph in 6.5 seconds despite severely challenging the front tyres. The 225/40R18 Continental Sportcontact 2 tyres that wrap around very striking 18-inch mags have excellent grip encouraging you to push into the corners and then accelerate with vigour out of them again.

Which is a problem. The fuel economy isn’t exactly stellar to start with, and with the temptation to let the aural goodness of the engine wash into your ears, it’s worse. Ford even gives you a turbo boost gauge — one of three gauges in the dashboard (the others measure oil temperature and pressure) — so that you can be sure of just when the Focus is drinking like a darts player.

The power is transferred to the wheels via a six-speed gearbox. The gear change is positive and easy, though the throw is a little long. With a short-shift gear stick the slight problem of bumping your arm into the seat when changing to second, fourth or sixth would be solved.

The Recaro seats have orange highlights to match the body colour. They are exceptionally comfortable and supportive when pushing the Focus towards its safe mild understeer.

The Sony stereo is better than most Ford offerings. It features a CD player with MP3 compatibility, but you will certainly want to listen to the engine for fun anywhere other than in rush hour or motorway cruising.

In Europe the XR5 is called the ST, and this badging can still be seen on the engine. The XR5 is essentially a UK-spec car — its instruments are calibrated in miles per hour, the indicator stalk is on the left and the stereo controls are a on a stubby wand as opposed to on the steering wheel.

The bright orange colour (which my flatmate assures me is the colour of the second chakra – the sexual one), must bring a smile to the faces of the people of Great Britain, stuck as they are in the dreariness of constant drizzle. The fact that there are spare ones to send over here isn’t surprising, though as Ford obviously isn’t trying too hard to sell this amazing car — in fact, unless you specifically bring one in from the UK you can’t get one yet!

When you go to the Ford website, there isn’t even a price given, let alone any specifications. Ford’s response was that the Focus XR5 will be available second-quarter 2008 as part of a freshened model range (which will also include a Mondeo XR5 in April) and prices are to be confirmed. If you want more power you could use the XR5 as a stop-gap measure until the Focus RS arrives in 2009. If the Focus RS is even better than the Focus XR5, it’ll be one hell of a car.

Price: To be confirmed early 2008.

What we like

  • Sound
  • Styling
  • Performance
  • Handling
  • Stereo
  • Huge glovebox
  • My second chakra tingled

What we don’t like

  • Whistling turbo is annoying
  • Needs a short shift kit
  • Two-wheel drive = traction dramas
  • Fuel economy
  • Not much other cabin storage

Words and photos Darren Cottingham