The fun factor: How the Ford Focus ST won Hot Hatchback of the Year title

The fun factor: How the Ford Focus ST won Hot Hatchback of the Year title

It’s safe to say that our Irish Car of the Year jury probably looks forward to the Hot Hatchback category just a little bit more than any other. This, after all, is where the fun is to be found – grunting, growling, snorting, hot-hatch entertainment. You gotta love it!

At this year’s Continental Tyres Irish Car of the Year awards, the smart money in the Hot Hatchback category was on Ford’s rip-roaring, fourth-generation Focus ST, and so it proved. The ST was the clear choice, seeing off competition from the Cupra Ateca, Mercedes-Benz A35 AMG, Renault Megane RS Trophy and Skoda Kodiaq RS. But what did the jury love about Ford’s new performance beast?

“At the heart of any hot hatchback has to be the engine,” says ICOTY jury member Bob Flavin in our latest video series on the 2020 winners. “And the ST’s 2.3 litre petrol engine is no slouch. From a standing start, it can get to 100km/h in under six seconds and it’s that kind of precision engineering that makes it the best hot hatchback of the year.”

“The Focus ST has usability, performance, practicality,” Bob enthuses. “It’s a car you want to get out on the road every single day and it’s the winner of our fun category, the hot hatchback.”

Performance-wise, the new Focus ST has much to recommend. Even the sporty twin tailpipes hint at the sheer excitement in store, while the rally-esque popping and crackling that takes place during high-speed gear upshifts are a joy to experience. However, this isn’t just a car built for fun.

ST’s “dual personality”

“The judges liked the Ford Focus ST because it has a dual personality, blending the everyday practicality of a 5-door hatchback with an exhilarating performance,” says fellow ICOTY juror Caroline Kidd.

“This generation of the ST has a number of innovations including selectable drive modes for the first time, a sophisticated CCD (continuously controlled damping) suspension and an electronic limited slip differential,” Caroline adds. “Ford has also improved the interior with a leaner and sleeker appearance including better quality and the latest infotainment and technology features.

“On the road, the Focus ST is all about precision, agility and speed,” she says. “It’s a true professional in that regard and all the little innovations contribute to the dual personality of this car which you can experience through the selectable drive mode.”

The phrase ‘dual personality’ is a good way to sum up the award-winning Focus ST. This car is much more than a Mustang-inspired performance number – it’s also a versatile hatchback for everyday use, with a host of tech and safety features, that just happens to be a whole lot of fun to drive. Pace, handling and all-round performance: the Focus ST is our Hot Hatchback of the Year.