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New Ford Focus ST Edition 2021 review

The Ford Focus ST Edition hot hatchback is a fine swansong for the outgoing Focus range

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.0 out of 5

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Verdict

For fast Ford fans the ST Edition is the pinnacle, and it’s a fitting send-off before a newly updated ST arrives shortly. It looks the part, and the extras give a subtle extra breadth of ability, with more comfort and control than the ST – but it’s not night and day. Still, the ST Edition is full of personality, and in an age when character is being sacrificed in the push towards full electrification, you can get it here before it’s gone.

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There’s a newly updated Ford Focus line-up waiting in the wings, including an ST hot hatch – which means it’s time for a special-edition run-out model in the form of this, the Ford Focus ST Edition.

ST Edition trim isn’t new; we’ve seen this even more hardcore development on the smaller Fiesta ST towards the end of the pre-facelifted car’s lifespan. However, unlike some brands, Ford has chosen not to add more power, but to ramp up the focus on the Focus, enhancing the ST’s chassis.

As a result, this 2021 Focus ST Edition features coilover suspension from KW Automotive. The new twin-tube dampers are two-way adjustable – but you’ll have to manually twiddle the clickers, with 12 compression settings and 16 stages of adjustment for the rebound control.

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Those dampers control lightweight 19-inch alloys that cut unsprung mass by 10 per cent, while the ST Edition rides 10mm lower than the standard ST. A further 20mm drop can be requested by customers.

The ST Edition’s springs are more than 50 per cent firmer those of the already-stiff standard car, and they combine with the extra support from the new dampers to make the ST Edition feel a bit sharper on the road.

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True, it’s not that much sharper, but the damping is great. The ST Edition is taut, but it rarely crashes over potholes or bumps. It doesn’t skip over them either, but the body control is impressive as you up the pace on a B-road cars like this are meant to devour.

It goads you into going faster, and if you’re really into tuning your set-up, thanks to a written document that’s delivered with the car, you can tailor the damping to the type of driving on offer, be it road or track. The ST’s trademark lightning-fast steering response is still present, but this was never an area in which the ST was lacking.

Combined with the always-on feel of the chassis, it can get just a little wearing when all you want to do is cruise; rivals such as the Hyundai i30 N offer a little more duality, but it’s a small price to pay in the Ford. The Recaro seats are superbly supportive and also very comfortable, but the engine is a little droney, as with the standard car.

The 2.3-litre turbocharged four-cylinder EcoBoost motor is untouched, so its output of 276bhp and 420Nm remains, giving a 0-62mph time of 5.7 seconds. It does its best work in the mid-range, punching hard when the turbo is boosting and delivering enough torque to tug gently at the fast steering as the electronic limited-slip differential tries to put the power down. Call it character rather than a flaw, though.

There’s more of this with exhaust popping as you lift off in Sport or Track mode, the latter setting loosening the ESC to allow for a little more fun and greater exploitation of the upgraded chassis. The quite detailed changes offer great poise.

However, in other areas the Focus is lacking. The infotainment is fine but far from class-leading, and the cabin materials could do with a refresh, although we’re sure Ford will address these areas with the facelift.

You do get exclusivity with the ST Edition, however. The Azura Blue paint is unique to this car, with more gloss black detailing, plus blue stitching inside. But the price for this exclusivity – £35,785 – is £2,500 more than a regular ST, so you’ll really have to value the slight gains the upgrades bring.

Model:Ford Focus ST Edition
Price:£35,785
Engine:2.3-litre 4cyl turbo petrol
Power/torque:276bhp/420Nm
Transmission:Six-speed manual, front-wheel drive 
0-62mph:5.7 seconds
Top speed:155mph
Economy:34.9mpg
CO2:185g/km
On sale:Now
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Sean’s been writing about cars since 2010, having worked for outlets as diverse as PistonHeads, MSN Cars, Which? Cars, Race Tech – a specialist motorsport publication – and most recently Auto Express and sister titles Carbuyer and DrivingElectric

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