Parkers overall rating: 4.5 out of 5 4.5

Enthusiasts will undoubtedly read the Ford Focus ST performance stats with beady eyes. What’s interesting is that its 0-62mph time of 6.5 seconds isn’t much slower than the previous-generation RS that could get there in 6.0 seconds. Okay, it’s half a second off, but when you consider that the engine capacity in the old RS is 500cc bigger and that the RS model is supposed to be the pinnacle of performance in the Focus range, this ST certainly gives a good account of itself.

The engine in this model is a 2.0-litre Ecoboost petrol that delivers 246bhp, maximum pulling power of 340Nm and, as well as the impressive 0-62mph time, it’ll go on to top speed of 154mph. The stats tell just a smidgeon of the story. Not only is it fast, it feels fast. The performance is linear and smooth, but not so refined that you don’t feel the raw brutality.

The torquesteer that has blighted some of the previous fast Ford models has been well restrained, and once you get up to third gear the scenery will have become a satisfying blur. On top of that you get a fantastic engine sound that is certainly very addictive.

The handling in the Ford Focus ST is let down a little by the electronic power assisted steering. The standard Focus suffers from a similar problem, although in the C-Max it seemed perfect for that sort of car. The fact is there isn’t much feel from the steering and, if you like, you could describe it as rubbery. Still that’s probably the only complaint as far as the Ford Focus ST’s handling is concerned.

The steering may be low on feel but it is responsive on turn-in and is well weighted too. Like the standard Focus, you get excellent grip, but the sports suspension ramps up the agility a notch. Twisty roads are where the ST excels, coping with fast and tight corners with ease. The body control is excellent, with little lean on tighter corners. The six-speed manual gearbox is smooth, the clutch satisfyingly light and the brakes solid.

There’s plenty of wizardry to make sure you don’t make a fool of yourself on the road. The Focus ST features torque vectoring control, which sounds fancy but this is a system that applies brake torque to the wheels on the inside of the corner to increase grip and reduce the car’s tendency to go straight ahead instead of turn in. The car also features Cornering Under Steer Control - another piece of technical trickery that helps keep the car stuck to the road.

In any event, this is a difficult car to fault as far as handling is concerned – the only rival that beats it… just, is the Renaultsport Megane.