New Sasol GTC cars set for thrills

The iconic Grand Prix Circuit will present a new challenge to the GTC drivers as they tackle the country’s fastest racetrack on June 16.

Suzuki’s new Swift hatch and sedan in SA

Suzuki kicks off its new model assault with an all new Swift hatchback and standalone sedan called the Dzire.

Reader Test: Ford Focus ST

2007-06-14 08:53

Derrick Jooste, Centurion

Love it or hate it, especially in the Electric Orange colour I drive, the ST always evokes some kind of response. My wife nearly fainted the first time she saw the car - not expecting it to be so extremely bright. She had never seen the car before I came home with it. Now she loves it.

The car has just passed the 20 000 km mark and I must say up to this point it delights me every time I drive it. It has a superb chassis that makes cruising at 220 km/h a breeze - except the traffic authorities really don?t approve of it.

Throttle response, even at 180 km/h, is amazing and you still get a kick in the back when you floor the accelerator. I had to get used to the sudden surge of power from 2 000 r/min upwards. There is some torque steer when booting it with the steering set to sport mode and the Continentals have a hard time keeping traction with that driving style.

Fuel crisis

Although I enjoyed the standard version, one issue I did not like was the fuel consumption. Ok, this car is meant to be driven enthusiastically, but with petrol prices as they are now, I had to make a plan. I've installed a piggyback Unichip and the car is dyno tuned. What a difference that makes.

The torque spread is now more even through the power band without the sudden "all hell breaks lose" at 2 000 r/min. I have a 7.7% power gain at 5 000 r/min and the average fuel consumption dropped from 11.8 l/100 km to 10.2 l/100 km with the same driving style.

This is a car that likes to be driven hard. It sticks to corners like glue and gives some very expensive cars a run for their money from 0 -100. Even though it has a sport suspension, the ride quality is exceptional for a hot hatch. Only very rough surfaces will be felt and heard because of the 40 profile tyres.

Easy cruiser

But, just as nasty as the ST can get when giving it the boot, it can be a very relaxed cruiser on the open road due to the six speed gearbox's nice gear ratio selection.

Seating is good, even for a big guy like me. I like the fabric upholstery as the colour scheme compliments the car's exterior trim.

Things I don't like about the car are the placing of the handbrake lever, the shallow boot and the space saver spare wheel. It takes some time to get used to the clutch action.

Ford is on the comeback with affordable power for the nation and the ST (Steroid Technology in my terms) truly is value for money with good build quality, too. The only complaint I have up to this point has been the streaky rear wiper blade.

Someone hunting for a car in this category who hasn't driven a Focus ST yet is surely going to miss out on something nice.

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