Advertisement
In-depth reviews

Ford Focus ST review

The Focus ST is a fast, fun and affordable hot hatchback that also comes as an estate

Overall Auto Express Rating

3.0 out of 5

  • Powerful engines, decent handling, value price
  • Not as sharp as some rivals, small boot, high emissions

If you believe motoring is meant to be enjoyed, then the Ford Focus ST could be the family hatchback for you. There are faster hot hatches, but few share the Ford’s mix of great handling, punchy performance, and affordable practicality. It’s an accessible confection of family-friendly fun that has made the Focus ST a winner in previous guises, and the latest update has done nothing to dampen our enthusiasm.

New engines – including a punchy diesel – add a new dimension to performance, while styling, suspension and interior upgrades bring a little more sophistication to the party. There are compromises, of course, but Ford’s hottest Focus demands fewer of these than most of its rivals. 

With fast Fords like the GT supercar, Focus RS hatch and even the F-150 Raptor pick-up earning plaudits, it's easy to forget about Ford's ST range. The Fiesta ST is a cracking hot hatch, while the Focus ST is also worth considering if you want a great-value fast family car.

Advertisement - Article continues below

We say fast family car rather than hot hatch, because the Focus ST is offered as a five-door hatch or an estate. Both can be had with either a 247bhp 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol or a 185bhp TDCi diesel, while the latter can be had with either a six-speed manual gearbox or Ford's Powershift auto.

Advertisement
Advertisement - Article continues below

Ford Focus ST vs Skoda Octavia vRS 245

As you would expect, the petrol ST is the faster of the two, with a 0-62mph time of 6.5 seconds, which is competitive with most of its front-wheel drive hot hatch rivals, while the TDCi manages the same sprint in 8.1 seconds (the auto model is faster, at 7.7 seconds).

In corners, the Focus ST handles well, although it's not quite as enthralling as some of Ford's other performance models. There's lots of grip, decent feedback through the wheel and a torque vectoring system helps keep torque steer at bay and helps the ST in corners.

The ST gets sportier bodykit than the standard Focus, although Ford does offer ST-Line trim on the standard range to give it a bit of a visual boost. The key identifiers of the full-fat ST are the honeycomb grille up front, 18-inch wheels and centre-exit exhaust sticking out of the back bumper. There's also an exclusive colour on the options list, and choosing Tangerine Scream (above) really helps the ST shout about its performance. If you don't want to draw attention, then there are the usual white, black, red and blue options, while standard colours are either red or grey.

Advertisement
Advertisement - Article continues below
Advertisement - Article continues below

As well as having a choice of body styles and engines available, the ST also comes in different numbered trim levels. There used to be a Focus ST-1, but now only ST-2 and ST-3 are offered. Both versions feature 18-inch alloys, Ford SYNC infotainment with voice control and DAB radio, plus sports suspension and Recaro seats. On top of this, the ST 3 adds leather electrically adjustable seats, eight-inch touchscreen and xenon lights.

• Best hot hatches on sale

The Focus ST has been around for a little while, and there are a number of rivals out there that either have more power, handle more sharply or manage both. Our favourite front-wheel drive hot hatchbacks are the Honda Civic Type R, Hyundai i30 N and SEAT Leon Cupra, while the VW Golf GTI is also still a strong contender in the class. Elsewhere, the Peugeot 308 GTi is back on form, while the Skoda Octavia vRS offers more practicality to go with similar performance.

If you're looking at the Focus ST Estate, then its rivals are estate versions of the Leon Cupra and Octavia vRS, while the diesel ST again sees the Octavia vRS TDI go up against it, while the VW Golf GTD is also worth considering. Like the Focus, both of these models come as hatchbacks or estates, too.

For an alternative review of the latest Ford Focus ST Hatchback visit our sister site carbuyer.co.uk

Advertisement
Advertisement

More on Focus ST Hatchback

Visit/best-cars/66682/best-hot-hatchbacks
Best hot hatches 2018
Hot hatches
19 Mar 2020

Best hot hatchbacks 2020

The best hot hatches offer giant-killing performance and a gripping drive, all wrapped in a user-friendly package
Visit/ford/focus/107886/ford-focus-st-vs-hyundai-i30-n-vs-honda-civic-type-r
Ford Focus ST group test
Ford Focus ST Hatchback
16 Sep 2019

Ford Focus ST vs Hyundai i30 N vs Honda Civic Type R

The Honda Civic Type R is our reigning champion and the Hyundai i30 N has proved a good first attempt, but can the new Focus ST muscle in?
Visit/ford/focus/106937/new-ford-focus-st-2019-review
Ford Focus ST - front tracking
Ford Focus ST Hatchback
27 Aug 2019

New Ford Focus ST 2019 review

We sample the new Ford Focus ST petrol hot hatch in the UK for the first time – is it a Honda Civic Type R beater?
Advertisement
Visit/ford/focus/103241/new-2019-ford-focus-st-prices-and-specs-announced
Ford Focus ST - front
Ford Focus ST Hatchback
23 May 2019

New 2019 Ford Focus ST: prices and specs announced

Ford has quietly released prices and specs for the new Focus ST ahead of its launch this summer, with the base model starting from £29,495
Visit/ford/focus/106555/new-range-topping-ford-fiesta-st-performance-edition-revealed
Ford Fiesta ST Performance Edition - front
Ford Focus ST Hatchback
10 Apr 2019

New range-topping Ford Fiesta ST Performance Edition revealed

The new Ford Fiesta ST Performance Edition features weight-saving and suspension tweaks, and will be limited to just 600 units
Visit/skoda/octavia/100471/skoda-octavia-vrs-245-vs-ford-focus-st
Skoda Octavia vRS 245 vs Ford Focus ST - header
Skoda Octavia vRS Hatchback
16 Aug 2017

Skoda Octavia vRS 245 vs Ford Focus ST

A power boost has put Skoda’s Octavia vRS hot hatch in the sights of the Ford Focus ST, but which is better?
Visit/peugeot/308/93614/peugeot-308-gti-vs-ford-focus-st-mountune-vs-seat-leon-cupra
Peugeot 308 GTi vs Ford Focus ST Mountune vs SEAT Leon Cupra
Peugeot 308 GTi
4 Dec 2015

Peugeot 308 GTi vs Ford Focus ST Mountune vs SEAT Leon Cupra

We see if Peugeot's hot hatch revival continues as new 308 GTi meets Ford and SEAT rivals
Visit/ford/focus/92652/ford-focus-st-mountune-review
Ford Focus ST Mountune - front cornering
Ford Focus ST Hatchback
29 Aug 2015

Ford Focus ST Mountune review

Tuner ups power to make hot hatch even more appealing
Visit/ford/focus/90551/ford-focus-st-diesel-vs-volvo-v40-vw-golf-gtd
Ford Focus ST Hatchback
23 Feb 2015

Ford Focus ST diesel vs Volvo V40 & VW Golf GTD

Ford has added a diesel to the Focus ST line-up - but can it see off sizzling V40 R-Design and class-leading Golf GTD?
Advertisement
Visit/ford/focus/85519/ford-focus-focus-st-1-20-ecoboost-250ps
Ford Focus ST diesel driving
Ford Focus ST Hatchback
2 Feb 2015

Ford Focus Focus ST-1 2.0 EcoBoost 250PS

£239 per month with a £4,347 deposit (3.8 per cent APR)
Visit/ford/focus/90107/ford-focus-st-diesel-2015-review
Ford Focus ST - front
Ford Focus ST Hatchback
19 Jan 2015

Ford Focus ST diesel 2015 review

Ford's Focus ST hot hatch gets a diesel engine and a slightly more sensible, cost-conscious persona but it's still a blast!
Advertisement
Visit/ford/focus/89273/2014-ford-focus-st-makeover-and-new-diesel-specs-and-prices
Ford Focus ST Hatchback
29 Oct 2014

2014 Ford Focus ST makeover and new diesel: specs and prices

Ford has released full specs and pricing of the new Focus ST hot hatch, revamped for 2014 and featuring a new diesel option.
Visit/ford/focus/87547/new-ford-focus-st-gets-goodwood-launch
Ford Focus ST 2014 teaser
Ford Focus ST Hatchback
27 Jun 2014

New Ford Focus ST gets Goodwood launch

Ford reveals the 247bhp facelifted Ford Focus ST hot hatch and a new diesel variant at Goodwood Festival of Speed
Visit/ford/focus/66685/ford-focus-st
Ford Focus ST-3 2013 front action
Ford Focus ST Hatchback
4 Nov 2013

Ford Focus ST

The Ford Focus ST is the second hot hatch from Ford to make it into this list of the best hot hatchbacks – and that’s telling of just how good the fir…
Visit/ford/focus/61771/focus-st-vs-astra-vxr-vs-megane-rs
Ford Focus ST Hatchback
6 Dec 2012

Focus ST vs Astra VXR vs Megane RS

We pit three of the year's best hot hatches against each other around the Anglesey Circuit
Advertisement
Visit/ford/focus/60140/ford-focus-st-3
Ford Focus ST front tracking
Ford Focus ST Hatchback
11 Sep 2012

Ford Focus ST-3

The new 247bhp Ford Focus ST has already impressed, but is it as good on UK roads?