New Ford Focus ST 2022 review

The latest Ford Focus ST gets a tech boost and other tweaks to bring it up to date for 2022

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.0 out of 5

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Ford’s updated Focus ST refines the package with more technology, while it retains the same great driving thrills and fair level of usability. It’s firm on the move, but this is what gives the ST its raucous character. It’s still bearable and the new Ford Performance seats balance comfort and support well. This updated ST remains a great fast Ford, even if it hasn’t moved the game on all that much dynamically. But it has when it comes to the features on offer.

Fast Fords are the bedrock of the firm’s appeal to UK enthusiasts. Affordable, often great to drive, practical and even efficient, Ford’s most recent performance products have offered so much in one package – and now there’s a fresh one.

This updated Focus ST isn’t all new, but it takes what’s gone before and refines the recipe with more technology, upgrades inside and some styling tweaks on top of the same great driving experience.

The ST now wears its Ford badge on a revised grille, which has large honeycomb mesh fitted between a pair of slimmer dynamic-matrix LED headlights. The car’s intakes lower down are trimmed in matt grey. There are matt grey alloy wheels, too – 18-inch as standard or 19-inch as an option – contrasting with our car’s lurid ‘Mean Green’ paintwork.

Inside, the ST no longer has Recaro sports seats, which were brilliant. Instead, like its smaller Fiesta ST sibling, the Blue Oval has fitted its own 14-way- adjustable Ford Performance sports seats, which feel great and offer lots of support.

There’s also a new 13.2-inch infotainment set-up that has Ford’s SYNC 4 operating system. Like its predecessor’s tech, it works well, but isn’t the flashiest-looking set-up. Yet responses are good and there are lots of features, such as wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as standard, plus sat-nav, a B&O Premium audio system, wireless phone charging, a rear-view camera, full keyless go and a 12.3-inch digital dash.

Quality is the same as it was in the pre-facelift model, so it’s good but not great; the interior is functional rather than flashy. While the materials are robust and there are some leather-wrapped soft-touch points such as the steering wheel and a few other areas, on the whole material quality is acceptable but not outstanding. Yet it’s a match for rivals such as Volkswagen’s Golf GTI, which should arguably be a more premium product.

Where the ST really excels is how it drives. Mechanically, there’s not much different with this facelift, but the recipe didn’t need changing in this respect. Underneath the bonnet is the same 2.3-litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine that this generation of hot Focus made its debut with. It pumps out 276bhp and a healthy 420Nm of torque on overboost, no doubt thanks to the ST’s extra capacity over 2.0-litre rivals such as the Hyundai i30 N.

There’s a six-speed automatic option, but it’s the six-speed manual model that we’re testing that you really want, because it adds an extra layer of involvement to the driving experience, with a precise-enough shift and a slick change action that makes going up and down the box enjoyable.

The manual’s 5.7-second 0-62mph time is more than quick enough, and traction off the line is good, just as it is on the exit of tight corners, the standard-fit limited-slip differential helping to claw the road and propel the ST down the next straight.

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The engine’s soundtrack is mostly a match for the performance, too, with some aggressive pops from the exhaust in either Sport or Track mode.

Further, the chassis feels just as racy, with the test ST’s larger alloy wheels and sports suspension combination meaning the ride is firm, but nicely controlled. Our car’s £800 Ford Performance Pack adds continuously controlled adjustable dampers, and while the ST feels firm and compliant in Normal mode, in the sportier setting body control is even tighter.

The steering is fast and precise but not full of feel, although the front axle is sharp enough to easily keep up. The ST’s adjustability means you can use a little lift of the throttle in corners to tighten the car’s line. And at £34,960, it’s relatively well priced compared with rival models.

Model: Ford Focus ST
Price: £34,960
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: 35.3mpg
CO2: 183g/km
On sale: Now

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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