The second generation Focus ST is a five-cylinder hero you should invest in now
When you think of cars featuring five-cylinder engines, Audis immediately spring to mind, along with other VAG Group cars who shared powerplants. The Volvo 850R is another stalwart as well as the Land Rover TD5 but, all-in-all, the in-line five-cylinder engine has been shoved into the corner by the I4 and V6.
But with rarity comes a demand for exclusivity, and Ford's decision to use a five-cylinder powertrain in the second generation Focus' hot variants makes those Noughties hatchbacks a sly yet revered entry to I5 ownership.
The racing stripes are a bit brash, so I prefer the Electric Orange seen on the initial launch cars
The 2005-2011 Focus ST shared an engine with a bunch of Volvos, all of which were denoted using a 'T5' badge. The B5254T3 engine was a turbocharged 2.5-litre unit that was tuned to 222bhp and 236lb ft in the Focus ST.
Ford rebadged the engine as the 'Duratec ST' and applied variable valve timing to both camshafts, applied a lighter flywheel and performed a throttle recalibration. Reputable tuners Mountune then came along and offered a 260bhp package which featured a larger intercooler, a K&N filter and a slight tweaking of the engine mapping.
The standard ST does 0-60mph in 6.7 seconds and tops out at a fairly impressive 150mph
The ST also had its dampers recalibrated from the standard car and was lower by 15mm, making the entire package 30% stiffer than the humdrum Focus your mum drove. And to keep you in place while taking advantage of that suspension setup down a country lane, chunky Recaros were standard to hold your torso in place as you exploited every one of the ST's six gears.
You'll find plenty of these STs at between £4000-£5000, with the Mountune cars fetching a grand or so more. And although the more powerful tuned cars may seem tempting, remember that all of the power is being sent through the front wheels, bringing torque steer firmly into the equation.
Compared to its contemporaries, it wasn't the quickest - the Vauxhall Astra VXR and Alfa Romeo 147 GTA would have it in a drag race - but you can't deny that the ST more than makes up for it through its looks. The Ford Focus has always been a handsome beast and thankfully the Gen 2 car got the engine that the styling deserved. The ST170 Gen 1 car is also a tantilising option, but my money would definitely go towards the curvier later car.
Sadly, these cars were only made for the European market with the odd car making it to Australia and New Zealand. So all you Americans reading this may have to wait a while...
The Focus ST may have been heavily overshadowed by the RS that was released in 2009 to rapturous applause from the hot hatch community, but now that prices have firmly settled, these unsung oval-badged heroes deserve to become an appreciating classic of the coming years.
Do you think the Gen 2 Focus ST is a prime opportunity to invest in a future classic? Or is there another Noughties hot hatch that would be a wiser choice? Comment with your thoughts below!