Ford Focus ST review
High-performance Ford Focus ST is at the front of the hot hatch pack
The Ford Focus ST is the car that every hot hatch fan is waiting for. With a 247bhp 2.0-litre EcoBoost turbocharged petrol engine and sporty chassis, it matches the Renaultsport Megane 265 for power and beats the VW Golf GTI. It should also be much more economical than the five-cylinder car it replaces – and while the sound it makes isn't as distinctive as its predecessor's, it still sounds purposeful. No three-door version is available this time - Ford says not enough people bought the last one, so it's five-door only this time. One highlight of the Focus ST is its price - they start from around £22,000, which is a few thousand pounds less than its main rivals.
Our choice: Focus ST-2
The Ford Focus ST certainly looks the business, with a gaping mesh grille, centre exit rear exhaust, muscular bodykit comprising a front splitter and rear wing, plus 19-inch alloy wheels. With a wide range of bright colours, such as Tangerine Scream, it stands out more than a VW Golf GTI, despite being only available in five-door form. The ST adds Recaro sports seats for the front occupants, contrasting piping and carbon fibre trim, extra gauges, a special metal gearlever, sports steering wheel and metal pedals along with a host of ST badges.
The Focus ST gets the most powerful incarnation yet of the company's 2.0-litre EcoBoost turbocharged four-cylinder engine. It replaces the old 222bhp 2.5-litre five-cylinder unit and has more power with 247bhp, and is good for 0-62mph in 6.5 seconds. Ford has ensured that the new ST sounds as good as the old one with the use of a synthesiser to accentuate the best part's of the four-cylinder's engine note. With torque vectoring ensuring maximum traction and a new front-drive chassis, the Focus is one of the best handling cars in its class, while the firm but comfortable ride and quiet motorway manners make it a great all-rounder.
With standard traction and stability control allied to torque vectoring and strong brakes, plus a five-star Euro NCAP crash test rating and lots of airbags, the Focus ST is a very safe car indeed. It's a bit too early to predict reliability, but the standard Focus is solidly built and a real step up in quality over the last car, so we expect a strong performance in this area.
The five-door body might not look as good as a three-door would – Ford says it has no official plans to launch a three-door Focus by the way – but it will pay dividends when it comes to getting people in and out and carrying luggage. There is decent room in the back for tall adults, and the only black mark is the small boot. Still, with a hatchback tailgate and split/fold seats, the ST will be a practical machine – much easier to live with than the three-door Renaultsport Megane 265.
One thing that owners didn't like about the old ST was its thirst for fuel. The new model is much better, returning 39.2mpg combined – the previous car did about 25mpg – and emitting around 169g/km of CO2. With all that power, expect it to wear out front tyres quite regularly, and while servicing costs shouldn't be too bad, insurance is likely to be high. It's too early to estimate residual values, but the Focus ST will still lag behind the king of the class – the VW Golf GTI.