Following in the footsteps of past sporting vehicles from Ford is a challenging task. After all, there is no denying Ford’s unparalleled heritage in this area, which means so much too so many generations of car enthusiasts and motorsport fans.
Previously Ford’s performance models were identifiable by the XR nomenclature and later the RS logo but more recently the ST badge has come to the fore. ST stands for Sports Technologies and is a product of Ford’s TeamRS organization.
Ford TeamRS was formed early in 2003 when Ford Motor Company’s competition and performance road car engineers were pulled together for the first time to create performance road cars and new competition models.
The current Ford ST line-up consists of three models; the Ford Fiesta ST, the Ford Focus ST and the Ford Territory ST. All models can be identified by the ST logo that uses a central red stripe design inspired by Ford’s classic RS ‘racing stripes’ logo.
“The ST logo is more than just a badge, it is a whole new performance and design concept devised by TeamRS. ST should be synonymous with affordable, dependable performance and an ST model should reflect the character of the car from which it is derived,” explains Jacques Brent, Marketing and Sales Vice President, Ford Motor Company of Southern Africa.
Engineers aimed to meet very specific goals when designing the current generation ST models with all three models designed to be competitive all-rounders in their respective segments.
Throughout the development phases the engineers and test drivers strived to achieve an optimal balance between delivering exciting performance yet still maintaining affordability and practicality.
The concept of equilibrium was taken one step further as engineers aimed to create a balance between understeer and oversteer. Similarly the team concentrated on ensuring the right balance between suspension travel and grip from the tyres.
Another important aspect of consideration for engineers was to instill the right amount of confidence in the driver, with ST models geared towards rewarding the expert and flattering the novice.
The Fiesta ST was the first road car to be developed by Ford TeamRS. Powered by a specially modified version of Ford’s 2.0 litre Duratec 16-valve engine. The Fiesta ST delivers 110kW and offers a wide spread of torque, creating flexibility and pulling power. The Fiesta ST gets from 0 to 100km/h in just 8.3 seconds with a maximum speed of 208km/h.
The Fiesta demonstrates the latest design thinking for the ST brand, as defined by TeamRS. The look is more overtly performance orientated and the cabin benefits from the sporty detailing that is expected in this class.
To date the Fiesta ST has been well received on the local market. Priced affordably, it’s a performance car accessible to the masses. It offers adrenalin pumping levels of acceleration and can maintain momentum through the most demanding series of corners – and all this without sacrificing convenience and practicality.
The Fiesta ST was later joined on the local scene by its big brother, the Focus ST. In keeping with the ST design ethos the Focus ST offers mouth watering performance and handling with its fair share of refinement and sophistication.
The Focus ST is further evidence of how Ford’s ST philosophy is being redefined. Manufactured at Ford’s Saarlouis Plant in Germany, the Focus ST embodies the rebirth of Ford’s Sport Technology models. ST stands for a series of Ford performance vehicles where all attributes match each other to offer a perfectly balanced car.
Powered by a 2.5-litre turbocharged power plant the Focus ST impresses with its 166kW and 320Nm. It clocks the 0-100km/h sprint in a mere 6.8 seconds and accelerates freely to reach its 241km/h top speed.
Similarly the Focus ST’s handling characteristics are tailor made to reward the enthusiast. Most impressive is the fact that excellent levels of grip and road holding have not impacted on the ride-quality of the vehicle which maintains its composure amicably.
The most recent addition to the ST family is the Ford Territory ST. Propelled by a powerful 4.0-litre turbocharged powertrain, the Territory ST produces a maximum power output of 245kW available at 5 250rpm and reaches a torque peak of 480Nm at 2 000rpm. This translates into impressive off-the-line performance feel, better drivability and towing capability even at Gauteng altitudes.
A range of dynamic exterior design cues help give the Territory ST a commanding and purposeful stance on the road. A bonnet scoop, dual exhaust outlets, ST badging and unique five spoke 18″ alloy wheels all play their role in emphasizing the ST’s performance nature.
“Ford’s newest ST models are more expressive, yet still fun and rewarding. They offer everything the enthusiast needs to enjoy driving, but they are still practical and affordable for everyday use,” concludes Brent.