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Ford Focus ST review - Interior, design and technology

It’s packed with standard kit, so you’ll want for nothing if you opt for the Focus ST

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.5 out of 5

Interior, design and technology Rating

4.0 out of 5

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Like the rest of the Focus range, the Focus ST is based on Ford’s new C2 platform, which has allowed the wheelbase to be extended by 53mm over the previous model and created more interior space. The exterior design incorporates more flowing lines from front to back and, compared to the last car, there’s definitely a sportier, sleeker profile to admire.

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Ford no longer offers the ST-2 and ST-3 trim levels, instead there is just the standard ST specification. To ensure it stands out from the rest of the range, particularly from the smart ST-Line versions, the top-of-the-range hatch comes with 19-inch alloy wheels, a redesigned grille and bumper design, a rear spoiler and two exhaust tailpipes. However, the overall effect is still relatively subtle when compared to the more outlandish and wild styling of the Civic Type R. Some onlookers may not be able to tell it apart from the ST-Line, although the new Mean Green paint option will help you stand out.

The £3,000 Track Pack bundles a combination of chassis and styling upgrades, including a new set of 19-inch flow-formed wheels that are 10 per cent lighter than the standard offerings, wrapped in a set of Pirelli P Zero rubber instead of the standard car’s Michelins. Behind these sit a pair of red-painted Brembo four-piston calipers on the front axle, gripping discs that are also 10 per cent larger than standard. Finally, the ST's electronically-adjustable dampers are swapped for a set of coilovers from KW that lowers the car by 10mm, while Ford adds a gloss back roof, front and rear bumper inserts, and mirror caps to help give the car a more aggressive look.

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Most of the others optional extras aren’t strictly necessary, although the panoramic sunroof (£1,045) adds a little extra light to the cabin and the head-up display (£450) helps the driver keep their eyes on the road.

Inside, there’s plenty of up-to-date, stylish touches with heated Ford Performance sports seats (pre-facelift cars have Recaro seats), aluminium-style trim, alloy-finish pedals, a heated flat-bottomed steering wheel and two USB ports. There's lots of red stitching around the cabin, namely the seats, steering wheel and the gearlever gaiter, which lift an otherwise black and murky interior.

One problem with the cabin of the previous ST was an interior strewn with buttons and an awkward infotainment system. The new model includes a big touchscreen, which enables you to navigate through most of the car’s functions, although there are still buttons for the audio and dual-zone climate control.

While the pre-facelift cars have an eight-inch touchscreen, new examples all get a vast 13.2-inch display that benefits from Ford’s latest SYNC 4 operating system. 

Sat-nav, stereo and infotainment

The Focus ST now features a much-improved infotainment set-up with a 13.2-inch touchscreen. It runs the latest SYNC 4 operating system, which means that you get a responsive touchscreen, quick loading times and a menu structure that is fairly easy to work out. 

It looks great, the colours are bright, and apps such as Android Auto and Apple CarPlay expand to fill the display. But most of the heating and ventilation controls are on the screen, and while they’re set into a permanent bar along the bottom of the display, they’re more fiddly to use than conventional buttons. 

When it comes to ST-specific menus, the Focus is a little short on features. The drive-mode screen gives a choice from four modes, but that’s about it. We’d like to have an individual mode to give the driver an option to tailor the different settings to their own taste.

An upgraded 10-speaker B&O audio system is also standard-fit on the ST, as is the 12.3-inch digital driver’s display behind the steering wheel. Another piece of standard kit, for the more tech-savvy customer, is the FordPass Connect modem system. This is an app that buyers can download onto their smartphones, enabling them to connect their vehicle to the internet and provide functions such as Live Traffic information and in-car Wi-Fi.

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