Ford Focus ST-Line 2016 review

We sample Ford's 1.0-litre EcoBoost Focus in good-looking ST-Line trim, to see if it offers the perfect blend of sporty and sensible

Overall Auto Express Rating

3.0 out of 5

If you value style above all else, then the Ford Focus ST-Line will tick lots of boxes. With this entry-level EcoBoost engine it’ll be cheap to run, but the sporty add-ons come at the expense of necessities like parking sensors, automatic lights and climate control. For those less concerned with insurance or fill-up costs, an entry-level Focus ST offers bags more value – as well as a truly entertaining drive.

Manufacturers have been tarting up their cars with big wheels and bling accessories for years. Keen to capitalise on this success, Ford has introduced a new ST-Line trim – offering all the style of a hot hatch, without the associated running costs.

We drove the Fiesta ST-Line and Mondeo ST-Line earlier this year, but now it’s the turn of Ford’s popular Focus, which replaces the old Zetec S with sporty add-ons and a selection of fuel-efficient engines.

All cars get alloy wheels, tweaked bumpers front and rear, and lowered sports suspension. Our car was finished in optional (£250) Frozen White paint, while also featuring a set of 18-inch wheels (£550) and privacy glass (£225).

However, while the car looks good from the outside, equipment levels are a little miserly inside. There are no parking sensors, electric rear windows or heated seats, and even things like automatic lights and wipers are missing from the kit list.

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Our car made do with the dated SYNC2 infotainment system, but the fresher SYNC3 setup is a worthwhile £300 option. It adds loads more functionality, including pinch-to-zoom maps and app connectivity.

Performance from our entry-level EcoBoost was leisurely, but the dinky turbo engine remains a solid choice for those seeking decent performance and low tax bills. The more powerful 1.5-litre four-cylinder is much faster, and would be our pick considering the tiny £500 premium. It’ll cost you more to run (51.4mpg vs 60.1mpg), but shaves more than two seconds from the basic car’s 0-62mph sprint (8.9s vs 11.0s) and feels more sprightly as a result. There’s a diesel, too, capable of 74.3mpg.

As in any Ford Focus, the steering is sweet and there’s very little body roll to speak of. The lowered sports suspension is on the firm side, though, feeling rough and lumpy around town. It smooths out on the motorway, though, where the EcoBoost engine is quiet and refined, too. 

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The range starts at £20,845 for the entry-level 1.0-litre EcoBoost. The automatic version we have here commands a £1,250 premium, but it’s not the smoothest or most reactive setup, so most buyers will be better off saving some cash by opting for the six-speed manual.

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