Ford Focus ST review - Engines, performance and drive

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

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 motor sport 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 £800 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.

Cranking things up a bit is the Focus ST Edition which features new springs that are 50 per cent stiffer than standard, adjustable dampers and a ride height that can be lowered 10-30mm over the existing ST. New 19-inch alloys help to reduce unsprung mass by 10 per cent, while the Michelin Pilot Sport 4 tyres offer excellent grip.

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

“Mid-sized electric cars are way beyond the financial reach of most mums and dads”
Opinion - electric car prices
Opinion

“Mid-sized electric cars are way beyond the financial reach of most mums and dads”

Mike Rutherford thinks the industry needs to face the fact that a lot of people can’t afford a brand new factory-fresh car
16 May 2022
Best electric cars to buy 2022
Best electric cars
Electric cars

Best electric cars to buy 2022

There are more electric cars than ever to choose from, so we've picked some of the best you can buy in the UK now
28 Apr 2022
Tipo 184: on the road in the Mazda MX-5 based kit car
Tipo 184 kit car front
Features

Tipo 184: on the road in the Mazda MX-5 based kit car

Inspired by classic Grand Prix racing cars, Darren Collins has created a model that faithfully recreates the originals, but with a twist - it’s actual…
11 May 2022