Ford Focus ST review - Engines, performance and drive

Lots of driver-orientated tech trickery keeps the ST up-to-speed with the competition.

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.5 out of 5

Engines, performance and drive Rating

4.0 out of 5

  • Hatch and estate body styles
  • Torquey petrol engine
  • Lots of driver tech
  • More powerful rivals
  • Expensive to buy
  • Firm ride

The previous generation Focus ST model was certainly being out-muscled by rivals from Honda, Renault, SEAT, Volkswagen and even Hyundai with the i30 N. Ford recognised the need to upgrade the ST’s driving tech and returned with the new, fourth-generation car ready and fit for action.

The 2.3-litre turbocharged petrol engine delivers 276bhp through the front wheels and a whopping 420Nm of torque, ensuring plenty of low-down grunt to help fire the car through corners and back out. Ford has also given a nod to its motorsport heritage by including rally car-like anti-lag technology. Driving purists will welcome the six-speed manual gearbox, although it doesn't offer the most precise of shifts and could be more rewarding when it comes to mechanical interaction.

The ST’s steering is now 15 percent faster than that of a standard Focus, while the Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tyres help improve front-end bite. There’s an electronically-controlled limited-slip differential to assist with finding better traction, and the chassis gets adaptive dampers for the first time.

Also debuting on the ST are drive modes that are able to alter throttle response and the noise the electronic sound enhancement system makes to augment the engine note. Buyers opting for the £250 Performance Pack will get launch control and rev matching for downshifts, plus an extra Track driving mode that puts the dampers and engine in their most aggressive setting.

The suspension is firm, even in Normal mode, and the ride can be quite bumpy on the UK’s pothole-covered roads. But, the ST’s chassis is its key strength, it’s composed through quick corners and those trick dampers offer enough adjustability to take tight turns with confidence.

Engines, 0-60 acceleration and top speed

Over the years, Ford has experimented with different powertrains for the Focus ST, but has now settled on a turbocharged 2.3-litre four-cylinder engine to power the family hot hatch. 

The turbo unit is an evolution of the previous Focus RS engine, although it doesn’t make as much power, at 276bhp. The extra displacement compared to the 2.0-litre units of most rivals gives the ST a strong torque figure of 420Nm. There’s also an anti-lag function that helps to keep the turbo spinning to boost throttle response.

All this means the ST is able to dash from 0-62mph in 5.7 seconds and on to a top speed of 155mph. The estate version is no slouch either, at just a tenth of a second slower than the five-door hatch.

The 2.0-litre diesel ST model produces 187bhp and 400Nm of torque, with sprint times of 7.6 and 7.7 seconds for the hatch and estate, respectively.

Most Popular

New 2022 BMW M3 Touring officially confirmed
BMW 3 Series Touring

New 2022 BMW M3 Touring officially confirmed

New hot BMW M3 Touring estate on the way and it’ll feature the same 503bhp straight-six engine as the saloon. Our exclusive image previews how it coul…
12 Aug 2020
Next-generation Nissan Qashqai spied ahead of 2020 launch
Nissan Qashqai

Next-generation Nissan Qashqai spied ahead of 2020 launch

Our spy photographers have spotted the new Nissan Qashqai during its development programme – although it’s still wearing heavy camo
13 Aug 2020
New 2021 Kia Stinger facelift revealed with new look and tech
Kia Stinger

New 2021 Kia Stinger facelift revealed with new look and tech

The Kia Stinger gets a subtle new look as part of a facelift for 2021
12 Aug 2020