The Ford Focus ST is our reigning hot hatch of the year, so the day when editor John McIlroy told me I'd be running one definitely went down as 'a good one'. My green-eyed colleagues think I must have either told John I'd be happy to work for less money, or I know where the bodies are buried. Anyway, the upshot is that we now have a gleaming blue Focus ST in the car park.
We decided to keep the spec simple so went for virtually no options. However, we really wanted the optional 525 Spirit Blue metallic paint, but that isn't available on the basic ST, so we went for ST-2 trim. This also brings body-coloured highlights in the seats, dual-zone climate control instead of the basic cars air-con, and an upgraded audio system.
The total cost of our car was 24,020, which is a bit of a bargain when you consider that a basic Golf GTI 5dr will set you back 26,500.
The car arrived with barely three figures on the odometer, so the past couple of weeks have been spent pottering around on light throttle openings, which is more than a touch frustrating. It's like being given the key to the sweet shop, but being informed you have a sugar intolerance it's all there to be enjoyed, but you darent touch the goodies.
However, we've now passed the 1000-mile mark, so the fun has begun in earnest. Oh yes, it's fun the first time the back of the accelerator met the carpet my grin widened at the same rate as the rev counter needle went round the dial.
The Focus is properly quick, hitting 60mph in just 6.5 seconds, but even better is the way it bullets past slower traffic when you drop a couple of cogs and flatten the go pedal. You need to hang on to it though, because the steering wheel does a good impression of an angry snake as it writhes in your hands under acceleration on bumpy roads.
That said, A- and B-road blasts are where the Focus ST truly comes alive. It turns, grips and deals with bumps brilliantly, and the (albeit artificial) noise it produces is real rally-car stuff. You blast past dawdlers in a blare of revs, doubtless drawing disapproving glares for having the indecency to be having so much fun.
When the fun's over and you rejoin the mundane world the Focus is right there with you. It's easy to drive, it's quiet, it's roomy and the Recaro seats are truly comfortable. The ride is undeniably firm, but it's not so hard that it becomes an issue.
So the next few months look like they're going to be pretty special indeed and what happens when the time comes for the Focus to go back? Oh yes, we're going to get the full-on Ford ST experience, because I then get my hands on a Fiesta ST, a hot hatch that's arguably even better than the Focus. Yup, this summer is definitely going to go down as 'a good one'.
By Euan Doig