An automatic makes the Ford Focus ST slower…really?

2020 Ford Focus ST

The shift away from manuals is because car makers have been building automatic transmissions that can shift faster than a human…not the auto in the Ford Focus ST.

Arriving in Australia recently, the Ford Focus ST is one of those rare performance vehicles that’s available with both an automatic and a manual transmission. And we thank Ford for keeping the manual dream alive.

Now, the reason so many car makers drop an automatic into a supercar or even a garden-variety performance car is because these things can shift way faster than you and I. Well, not if you’re driving a Focus ST. Or a Mazda MX-5 or Toyota 86.

Yep, those three vehicles are a rare trio that are actually faster in manual form than when the thing is left to change gears itself. Let’s take a look at the Focus ST because that’s the newest and the one that’s parked outside my house this week.

With a six-speed manual the Focus ST will get from rest to 100km/h in 5.7 seconds but with the six-speed automatic it’ll take three-tenths of a second longer. Yeah, sure, that’s bugger all but it’s worth mentioning because it’s not the norm.

But, that’s in a straight line…personally and, don’t worry, I’m hating myself too as I say it, the Focus ST with automatic and flappy paddles is still incredibly quick. And I’d suggest that on an undulating and twisting stretch of road it’ll be a step or two quicker than the manual…maybe. I’ll let you know after I’ve driven the manual next week. Stay tuned.

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Isaac Bober has been writing about cars and 4x4s for more than 20 years, has worked on some of the country's biggest motoring magazines (remember what they were?), and launched Practical Motoring. Now he's back, back again... to share dad jokes and much more.


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