by Seán Creedon

Around this time every year I seem to get an opportunity to test drive a car which would make an ideal Christmas present for some young male driver.

I say male because the cars I am talking about are often referred to as ‘boy racers,’ but how a ‘boy’ could afford to buy and insure one of these powerful motors I find it hard to fathom.

This year it’s the Ford Focus ST, which was recently voted Continental Tyres Irish Hot Hatchback of the Year by my motoring colleagues.

I like the Ford Focus and often drive my daughter’s four year-old Focus, but I think I would prefer to spend the 40K plus its costs to buy an ST on two regular versions of the Focus. But then maybe I am too old for an ST car!

Externally the car looks much the same as the regular Focus, but surprisingly it doesn’t have the letters Focus printed on the boot like the regular new versions of the Focus. The red calliper brakes are the first clues before you sit in.

It’s all about power and the 2.3-litre test car had 280 brake horse power. The engine is a variant of the Focus RS and the famous Mustang, so no doubt about the power under the bonnet.

Thankfully there is a heads-up display on the dash to let you know the speed you are travelling at, which should help you avoid picking up penalty points.

The interior of the Ford Focus ST. (Picture: Charlie Magee)

Inside the decor is predominantly black and the Recaro seats are set low and are very comfortable. The controls on the dash are much the same as your regular Focus. In the back there is room for three adults at a squeeze.

It’s a powerful motor, but also a very thirsty one. And it would be helpful if the ‘boy’s’ parents owned a petrol pump. My test car was a six-speed manual so plenty of fun working through the gears.

And the good news is that you get a space-saver spare wheel, rather than the dreaded repair kit.

A question I often ask myself is why couldn’t I have driven a powerful car like this when I was much younger. But then I think would I still be here now if I had a powerful car like that in my twenties? 

The speed limit on Irish motorways is 120km/h so you can really only appreciate the power of the ST on the motorway or maybe a race track like Mondello Park. But of course you could enjoy working through the gears on a winding country/mountain road.

Prices for the regular Ford Focus start at €23,364, while the starting price of the ST version starts at €41,099. When you add in all the extras the price of my test car came to €44,729.

Ford Focus ST in Orange Fury. (Pictures: Charlie Magee)

So you can see my reasoning for buying two normal Focus instead of one ST. Road tax is €750 and of course insurance will depend on the age of the driver.

Apart from the so-called ‘boy racers, the ST might be an option for men or indeed women who enjoyed a bit of rallying when they were younger, but now have enough money to invest in a powerful sports car.

In reality I cannot see how a ‘boy’ can afford such an expensive car and that’s probably where Christmas and Santa comes in.