Ford Focus ST 2014 Review
Peter Anderson road tests and reviews the 2014 Ford Focus ST with specs, fuel consumption and verdict.
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Sooby had an automatic WRX a while back and it was a real dog. So, it was with some trepidation that we got into the new CVT (auto) Rex. Not expecting all that much, we fired it up and took the blue beast along one of our favourite back roads to see what it was like. On the way there, we encountered heavy traffic and the CVT turned out to be something of a relief. No on and off the clutch and no busy left hand. Tick for that.
Then we got to the twisty stuff and engaged Sport Sharp mode which effectively gives you an eight speed close ratio transmission that, as it turns out, feels a lot like a dual clutch manumatic. It took a nanosecond for us to realise we really liked the CVT Rex because it didn't behave like the usual slurring slushy CVT. It's crackin' sharp and flicks between ratios in a blink. This, while you maintain two hands on the D-cut steering wheel for maximum control.
On we went, click, click, click, up and down through the slick shifting ‘box using the paddle shift as each corner demanded. It was brilliant and dare we say it, possibly better than the six-speed manual because of the smaller increments between each 'cog'. The car goes better.
And a side benefit to the CVT is improved fuel economy rated at 8.6-litres/100km. It's pretty quick too especially once you pass 4000rpm and keep it percolating above that. It's smooth, flexible and quick point to point however, the brakes fade too easily.
We really, really enjoyed driving the CVT Rex but the drive is just part of the whole equation which delivers generous levels of kit, the highest safety rating, more room inside and arguably one of the best ride/handling combinations on a sporty sedan car available here. That good? You bet.
On the dodgy roads we traversed, the car maintained a high level of comfort and control, a high level of driver engagement and super dynamics. Perfect for the questionable roads we have here.
Our test car was the top of the range Premium with CVT that goes for $45,990 and includes leather upholstery, satnav, power driver's seat, auto wipers and headlights and a Harman Kardon audio system over the already generously equipped 'base' model. Drive is to all four wheels with a torque vectoring system aiding traction.
The brakes are bigger, the steering sharper and the suspension firmer than before. It rides on 17-inch alloys and the body is stiffer then before though weight is close to 1500kg.
ENGINE / TRANSMISSION
Plenty of kick comes from the 2.0-litre turbo four now with direct fuel injection, fully variable cam timing and a twin scroll, close coupled turbo. It achieves 197kW and 350Nm.
A major bugbear with earlier Rexs, the cheap interior, has been totally addressed in this model which has a premium, quality feel complete with a wide array of information and entertainment features. The layout and materials are attractive but there's an offensive acrid plastic smell to it – no good. The Bluetooth phone and audio system is good once you get there and the quality of sound from the stereo is acceptable. Needs a sub-woofer though.
The drive select system is excellent offering I for intelligent, S for sport and S# for sport sharp. There's plenty of room inside and in the boot but we aren't fans of the Mitsubishi Lancer-esque styling to the front.
Yes, we'd own one in a blink. It's safe, secure, sporty, potent, engaging, well equipped and undoubtedly reliable. We could live with the looks.
The complete MY15 range is:
WRX sedan: from $38,990 (manual), $40,990 (CVT automatic)
WRX Premium sedan: from $43,990 (manual), $45,990 (CVT automatic)
2014 Subaru WRX
Price: from $38,990
Warranty: 3 years/unlimited km
Capped servicing: No
Service intervals: 6 months/12,500km
Resale value: 55 per cent
Safety: 5 stars, 7 airbags
Engine: 2.0-litre 4-cyl turbo, 197kW/350Nm
Transmission: 6-speed man, 8-speed CVT automatic
Thirst: 9.2L/100km (8.6L auto), 95 RON
Dimensions: 4.6m (L), 1.8m (W), 1.5m (H)
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