New Zetec puts the the S into sexy for Focus

By Philip Hedderman
Dream of owning the uber cool Focus ST but just can’t afford the astronomical price tag? …. then dream no more.
Ford have just introduced the sporty Zetec S to its already vast range which emcompasses dashing good looks with scrooge-like frugality.
Yes, the new model gets back to basics with what we all love and have missed about Blue Oval badge – proper sporty styling that doesn’t cost a fortune.
It puts the ‘H’ into hot hatch and the ‘S’ into sexy but above all, a car that looks this good is sure to put a smile on your face.
Just looking at it brings fond memories flooding back.
New Romatics, dodgy buffons, hideous white shoes and the legendary XR3i.
By today’s standards it was nothing more than a tarted-up Escort with  alloys, spoiler and white clocks, but when you’re taking fashion tips from Don Johnston, believe me, it was pretty cool.
It had just enough street creed to make you stand out from the crowd and if you were lucky enough – a date on a Saturday night.
Same applies here with the new Focus where bland was the only fault found by the motoring press, myself included.
The “safe” design gets a Gok Wan makeover which transforms the whole look of Ireland’s favourite hatchback.
Based on the existing Zetec model, the S gets a full body kit including unique front and rear spoilers, lower side skirts and pretty snazzy 17inch, 5 double spoke alloys.
To improve handling, the new offering comes with sports suspension featuring stiffened springs and dampers.
Inside the designers were a little more cautious and apart from aluminium drilled pedals and push start button it’s pretty much the same high end dash and instrument panel. One added bonous are the sexy rear LED tail lamps.
Engine-wise you can twin the muscled-up shell with an equally impressive engine line-up including the mega 1.6-litre EcoBoost which has been remapped to produce a blistering 178bhp – up from 148bhp.
The  turbo-charged petrol engine now has a sprint of 0-100kph in  just 7.9 seconds and a top whack of 220kph.
Its pretty green too with emissions of  139g/kms – meaning Tax Band B and a levy of €280 per year (after the budget).
But the model on test today is the mega frugal 1.6 litre diesel.
Now don’t expect to break the land speed record in the 115 bhp TDCi, but it will give astounding economy.
Thanks to start-stop, Ford ECO mode, gear shift indicator, active grille shutter and smart regenerative charging, this oil burner is returning an eye-watering 63mpg.
It also means that this family hatch is in the lowest Tax Band A with emissions of 109g/km and duty of €190 (from January).
It’s also legendary for its drive and comfort making the Focus hard to beat.
But all’s not well in the Ford camp – especially with news of the seventh generation VW Golf being launched in Ireland this week.
We haven’t driven it yet, but my trusty colleague Bob tells me that it’s gonna cause absolute mayhem in the most cut-throat segments in the industry.
I think he could be right as I was well impressed by the drive dynamic of the new Audi A3 Sportback which is lightyears ahead of its predecessor.
A little bird tells me that the Golf will share many of the same components and most importantly the same chassis.
Price for the Zetec S is from €24,927
Entry price for Focus is from €19,865