Ford’s Focus ST is taking buyers away from other automakers, including Volkswagen and some Japanese automakers, with sales figures over those expected.
Find out what the Focus ST has that buyers want.
The Focus ST is helping Ford steal young, influential buyers from VW and Japanese automakers. Hot hatches attract auto enthusiasts who then act as brand ambassadors. These young buyers are sought after by carmakers because they have the power to elevate a brand’s image, including mainstream models, said Jeff Schuster, an analyst with researcher LMC Automotive in Troy, Michigan. Sales of Ford’s entire Focus line rose 16 percent last month.
“You’re talking about an aspirational vehicle for someone entering the market,” Schuster said in a telephone interview.
The Focus ST hatchback, which churns out 252 horsepower behind its honeycomb-mesh trapezoidal grille, has been running at about 5 percent of total Focus sales, ahead of the 3 percent to 4 percent mix that the company expected, said Amy Marentic, global marketing manager for Ford cars.
In Europe, Focus ST was the top-selling hot hatch in 2012’s fourth quarter, beating Wolfsburg, Germany-based Volkswagen’s GTI, a juiced-up version of its Golf model, according to R. L. Polk & Co.
Car and Driver’s November comparison test between Focus ST and Volkswagen GTI was one of the closest in the magazine’s history, Sherman said. The margin of victory was one point out of a potential 240 points.
“Even though the ST is the slightly larger and heavier hatch, it thumps the GTI’s agility with quicker, tighter steering,” the magazine said. “Considering how long and how well VW has raced slot cars, that’s a colossal achievement.”
VW isn’t rolling over. It’s boosting the power on a new version of the GTI debuting in the U.S. next year, the seventh generation of the model that arrived in 1983. It will have 258 pound-feet of torque, up from 207, and 210 horsepower, from 200.