By on October 18, 2012

When you’ve reviewed over 600 cars, few new ones surprise you. With the polished road manners and granitic structure of a far more expensive car, the 2012 Ford Focus was one of the few. But its 160-horsepower engine, while easily adequate for daily driving, doesn’t provide the thrust many driving enthusiasts demand. For 2013, this should no longer be a problem. A 252-horsepower Ford Focus ST has joined the line.

Some people find the exterior of the Focus overdone, but when shod with large five-spoke alloys it’s the most attractive car in the segment to my eye, with an athletic stance, excellent proportions (for a front-drive hatch), and hardly a line out of place. For the ST, Ford has enhanced the egg with a cleaner front fascia with a black grille, a centrally-located exhaust, and a larger spoiler. Big buck AMGs should be this tasteful.

Inside, Recaro buckets included with either option package are the most noteworthy upgrade (the base ST is fitted with the supportive buckets from the regular Focus). With the ST3 Package, the seating surfaces are entirely covered with charcoal leather. I prefer the partial leather seats in the ST2 Package, as their center panels are covered in a niftily textured fabric and their bolsters inject some much needed color (yellow, blue, or silver). With either option the Recaros provide both excellent lateral support and long-distance comfort (unless you’re too broad for them). The ST also gains some auxiliary gauges atop the center stack. As in other upper trim Foci, interior materials appear of high quality and feel solid.

My least favorite aspects of the regular Focus cannot be altered without a major redesign of the car. The instrument panel remains tall and deep beneath a severely raked windshield. A more open view over a more compact instrument panel would make for a more engaging driving experience. The center console is also more intrusive than most, but this doesn’t bother me like it does some people. If you like a lot of room behind the wheel, the Focus isn’t the car for you.

Move to the back seat, and if you or the driver is much over 5’9″ you’ll wish you hadn’t. Legroom remains short of the segment average. If you aren’t very tall, though, you’ll likely find the rear seat comfortable.

While the regular Focus is available as a sedan and a hatch, in North America the ST is available only in the latter body style. This does make for a practical car, if not as practical as the wagon offered in Europe.

The engine in the Focus ST is no low-volume bespoke mill. It’s also available beneath the hood of most other Ford models, in the larger cars serving not as the high-performance option but as the high-MPG option. For the ST it does kick out another 12 horsepower, for a total of 252 at 5,500 rpm, but this is entirely due to a less restrictive intake and exhaust. The engine itself is physically unchanged. Good things follow. First, as we’ll discuss in more detail below, Ford charges surprisingly little for the ST upgrades. Second, refinement is worthy of a mainstream $30,000+ car. Third, fuel economy is much better than with the most direct competitor. The MazdaSpeed3 has EPA ratings of 18 mpg city, 25 highway. The Focus ST does far better, with guilt-free EPA ratings of 23/32. (These estimates aren’t hard to replicate in the real world if you go easy on the gas.)

As it often does, refinement cuts both ways. There no kick or even a solid shove as boost kicks in. Instead, thrust builds very smoothly, and before you know it, the car is traveling well over 80 mph. Ford fitted a “sound symposer” to pipe intake noise into the cabin at high rpm. Nevertheless, the engine remains sufficiently quiet that a few times while powering out of a turn I felt the engine go limp, briefly wondered if a safety nanny had kicked in, then noticed that I was riding the 6,800-rpm rev limiter. It’s not easy to time shifts without keeping a close eye on the tach. First tops out very quickly. Between this and the tires’ inability to transfer all the engine’s torque to the pavement at low speeds, and ideally first would be a little taller.

While the ST’s peak power figure is actually a little low for a boosted 2.0-liter (likely due to its mainstream role), the engine excels in the midrange, with peak torque of 270 pound-feet at 2,700 rpm. An overboost function unique to this application plumps out the midrange another eight percent for up to 15 seconds. With this much torque channeled entirely through the front wheels, the question isn’t whether there’s torque steer, but how much. Well, there’s enough to mildly tug the steering wheel this way and that during hard acceleration, but not nearly enough that you have to fight to keep the car on your desired line. Hard shifts from first to second also effect a little wheel hop. The shifter and clutch for the mandatory six-speed manual transmission aren’t the best–you’ll read no rifle bolt analogies here–but they commit no notable sins.

There’s enough thrust that hard acceleration provides thrills despite the wet blanket of refinement and the family sedan-like 3,223-pound curb weight. But Ford offers the Mustang for those seeking straight line kicks. The Focus ST is really about handling. Even the regular Focus tackles curvy roads with aplomb. For the ST, Ford has added a variable-ratio steering rack, lowered the suspension a centimeter, firmed up the springs and dampers, totally revised the rear stabilizer bar, enhanced the suspension electronics, and fitted Goodyear Eagle F1 Asymmetric three-season tires (in the same 235/40R18 size also offered on the Titanium). Thanks to these upgrades, the hatch’s handling goes from surprisingly good to amazing. The feel is much the same, with the body control of a much more expensive car, just taken up another couple notches. Between the tires’ extremely high limits, the revised suspension hardware, and the electronic torque vectoring, you’ll have to push the car harder than I was willing to push it on public roads to encounter more than a hint of understeer. On the other hand, lift off the gas at corner entry and the rear end slides outward enough to help the car through the turn (but not so much as to be scary). The Focus ST’s steering doesn’t provide nuanced feedback, partly because it uses an electric power steering system and partly because the tires simply aren’t slipping much. But thanks to its tuning and variable-ratio rack this system manages to feel both very solid on center and very responsive when the wheel is turned.

A bevy of electronic controls supplement the suspension hardware. Unlike in the regular Focus, the stability control can be switched to a sport mode or disabled entirely. As with any well-designed front-wheel-drive chassis, it’s not much needed. Ultimately, at some point I failed to reach, the front tires are going to scrub, and then backing off the throttle will safely reduce speed. When the stability control is disabled, curve control (which modulates the throttle and brakes to maintain a safe speed and line through turns) is also disabled. Curve control arguably doesn’t belong in the ST to begin with, but even when enabled it’s less of a nuisance than in models more likely to need it. Torque vectoring, which modulates the brakes to counteract understeer, is never disabled. As noted above, it’s quite successful in its mission. But it’s not entirely transparent. You can feel the brakes at work, forcing the chassis to take a different line than it inherently would. As a result, the Focus ST’s handling doesn’t feel entirely natural, and your control of the car seems less direct. Cars with balanced weight distributions retain an advantage here.

Some people find the ride of the regular Focus to be overly firm, but I find it nearly perfect, with precisely damped body motions over imperfect pavement. Despite its firmer suspension, the Focus ST didn’t seem to ride significantly worse than the regular Focus. I say “seem,” because the route prescribed by Ford didn’t contain any awful roads. During my first mile in the driver’s seat I thought the ride felt a bit busy, with some small sharp reactions, but this thought never entered my mind in the hours that followed. Even based on this limited experience, the Focus ST’s ride is clearly much more livable than that of a truly hardcore machine like the Evo, or even a VW Jetta GLI, Scion FR-S, or Genesis Coupe R-Spec. On top of this, noise levels from all three sources (wind, road, engine) are so low when cruising that the Focus ST feels like it’s traveling 20, even 30 mph below its actual velocity.

The sticker price on a regular Focus can exceed $27,000. So how could Ford possibly add a turbocharged engine, sport suspension, and Recaro seats without pricing the car out of reach? Well, they have. Run a Focus Titanium and a Focus ST through TrueDelta’s car price comparison tool (with both loaded up to make their content as similar as possible), and you’ll find that the latter’s unique features only add about $2,100, a shockingly small amount given what you get in return.

Consequently, the Ford Focus ST starts at a very reasonable $24,495. For the Recaros in partial leather, Sony premium audio, and the MyFord Touch interface, add the $2,385 ST2 Package. Nav adds another $795, a sunroof (not on the tested car) another $895. The “tangerine scream” tri-coat paint on the tested car (more orange and dynamic in person than it appears in these photos) costs $495. Don’t believe in paying extra for paint? The “performance blue” resembles my favorite shade on the 2002-2005 Focus SVT.

Compared to the ST2, a MazdaSpeed3 is $1,885 less before adjusting for feature differences and about $1,100 less afterwards. The Mazda provides a somewhat more visceral driving experience but looks and feels like a far less expensive car. A Volkswagen GTI costs about the same as a similarly-equipped Focus ST, but doesn’t perform or handle nearly as well. Very much comparing an apple with an orange, the rawer, far less livable, and far less practical—but rear-wheel-drive and inherently balanced—Scion FR-S costs $460 more before adjusting for feature differences and about $2,300 more afterwards.

You can buy a more thrilling car than the Focus ST. You can also buy a more stylish car, a smoother car, or a more practical car. But if you’re seeking style, performance, handling, refinement, and everyday practicality all in same car, the Focus ST hatchback isn’t approached by anything else under $30,000 (as long as the wagon isn’t offered west of the Atlantic) and it isn’t often matched above this level. The stratospheric prices of Audis, BMWs, and Mercedes have never seemed less justified. If (like me) you’ve been thinking that the Focus ST might be the car for you, it is.

Ford provided insured, fueled cars along with lunch at a media event.

Michael Karesh operates TrueDelta.com, an online source of car reliability and pricing information.

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

127 Comments on “Review: 2013 Ford Focus ST...”


  • avatar
    dolorean

    Two Words. Can’t. Wait. Be the first car I’ll trade my Astra for.

    Finally we get the good ride from Europe instead of envy and another year. Now, if VeeDub would take the lesson and bring me my Scirocco.

    • 0 avatar
      tatracitroensaab

      VW’s reason for not bringing in the Scirocco is that it will cannibalize GTI sales. I think so too, but at the same time, i wonder, couldnt it make up for it with more sales? also how distinctive Sciroccos look… i think it would advertise well for VW…

      I’m amused that the ST is only available as a hatch, this being the United States and all, land of the sedan and whatnot…. maybe they figured that only euro-types would want it anyway?

    • 0 avatar
      rickyc

      The Scirocco would cannibalize GTI sales plus i read VW would have to price it around $30k base. So with options u looking about $35k which is BMW land.

      • 0 avatar
        dolorean

        @rickyc, we talkin’ ’bout the same company who brought the US the most non-anticipated, unnecessary, and over-priced Phaeton? Add to it the over $35K Routan? A Scriocco would certainly take some sales from the GTi and will certainly cost north of $30K; however, I see it as necessary to VW as the Corvette is to Chevrolet. The Ford GT to FoMoCo. The GT-R to Nissan.

        TTAC nearly all admits the GTi is a very fine hot-hatch, but not quite a sports-car. The R32 fills the bill, but still too easily confused with a plebian Golf. An AWD turbo-charged Scirocco GT is exactly the hallmark sports-coupe that VeeDub needs in its line-up, if nothing else, to create media buzz and twitter-feeds.

  • avatar
    jaje

    They are at the dealers now as I test drove one several weeks ago and it was a nice car with good acceleration. However it felt sluggish in the corners when pushed maybe due to the fact it weighs at least 3,200lbs (that’s close to what an WRX weighs and 200lbs more than a GTI).

  • avatar

    I know I shouldn’t, but I WANT the Focus. It’s bigger, more refined, better to drive, etc etc etc.

    So I have an ’07 Fit. It has about 100,000 miles, is paid for, and has not gone wrong once. I got it as a stop-gap, but we’ve since had a kid and income has been redistributed to new savings and investments. My car savings were subsumed by the family’s new car account.

    My wife’s ’02 Camry is getting tired with about 200,000 miles. She wants a new car in the next 2 years or so, and we want to pay case for it. Likely a Fusion, in case you’re wondering.

    So the bottom line is, unless I win the lottery, I’m not getting a new car for 8-10 more years, or however long it takes to save up another $30,000, and by then… who knows.

    Living below your means sucks, sometimes.

    • 0 avatar
      rnc

      Except for that beautiful, latent, subconscious feeling of knowing that if for some reason if you lost your job you could make it two years (not including unemployment or any other benefits), without having to worry or make any lifestyle changes. The decision 6 years ago to pay off all my debts and live like I was making half of what I was, was the best decision I ever made. For five years didn’t even have a checking account, used savings and everything was purchased with cash (or paid through EFTs) to remind me of what things really costs. $2,000 TV, easy to slide the debit card, but when you start counting out the $100′s it changes things and reminds me that my 37″ trinatron still works just fine.

      • 0 avatar

        Yeah, the ONLY debt we have left is my consolidated federal student loan. We’re fighting on whether or not we should prioritize it, since the rate is fixed at 1.7% and the payment is only $200 a month. Right now we’re about 60/40 expenses/savings, with both of our retirement funds being pre-tax (18% for me and 15% for her). We have about $35,000 in liquid savings, spread among car, house, rainy day, and college. Then we have a few investments, some CDs, an IRA, etc. for college and general nest-egg savings.

        ANYWAY, we have around $16k saved for her new car, but the Camry is worth MAYBE $3,000, so we have another $10 or so to go, at $500 a month. Then we start over! I figure the ratio between my Fit’s value and our car savings will slide to the point that my next car will be funded entirely by savings, and the Fit will be sold with 300,000 miles to a high school kid in 2020 for $500.

        Long story short, we’re fine, and if worse comes to worst, I can daily drive the Alfa!
        HA!

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        I think this car is class competitive, but that the class it’s most appropriate for is 18 to 24 year olds.

        Honestly, it has too much of a boy racer look, especially in the brighter paint schemes, for anyone much older that wishes not to look like a tweaker or who has a serious job.

        I remember Top Gear’s Jeremy Clarkson reviewing the Focus RS a while ago, and laughed my ass off when he made this point about that car (which looked similar), especially when he was hanging out the window and screaming something loudly.

        Perhaps buying a less conspicuous Focus is a better proposition for people who don’t want to shout at everyone with their car, but then again, they will be saddled with a lesser motor (which may or may not be fine).

        As far as specifics, it seems like a competent car for what it is, and they removed a lot of the cheap looking silver painted plastic interior trim which really improves the interior– they should’ve removed it from the steering wheel, too– (many more manufacturers should get rid of the silver interior trim), but it’s very cramped inside there, which begs the question of how practical this car really is compared to how practical MK claims it is as a daily driver.

      • 0 avatar
        tresmonos

        It shares the same weak points as the 5 door Titanium. The front seats are deeper, but have cut outs for the rear passengers. The ST3 rids itself of the boy racer interior colored seats, but adds the HID lamps (which are gaudy, IMHO).

        This was actually targeted at the the high performance crowd (whichever target market group that may be) as the program content originally included a new rear suspension (heresay) but was killed off. Revoknuckle was too expensive and designated for the RS’ target market group.

        My gripe is the center console knocking my elbows in aggressive turns. And the clutch is much too light for my taste. Otherwise it would be the only new Ford offering I could see myself in, if I don’t drop a Coyote in a Panther or scoop up a used Lincoln.

        Edit: I wish it had cooled seats.

      • 0 avatar
        hubcap

        “Honestly, it has too much of a boy racer look, especially in the brighter paint schemes, for anyone much older that wishes not to look like a tweaker or who has a serious job.”

        I’m just wondering what you’re talking about? I know a guy that recently purchased one–he flies Snakes (Cobra helicopter gunships) in the Corps. I know another guy who has an STI (which I’m guessing you wouldn’t approve of…you know the whole boy racer thing and all) he flies Rhinos (F/A-18 E/F Super Hornet) in the Navy–both pretty serious jobs.

        For the life of me I can’t understand why you would care what someone else thinks of the car you used your hard earned cash to buy. If you don’t like it that’s one thing but changing your decision based on the fickle and wankerish crowd is IMO slightly crazy.

        But you know what’s really crazy. Using Jeremy Clarkson as a backstop for your argument. What Jeremy doesn’t realize is that without screaming like a lunatic he draws a lot of attention because of 1.) his grill and 2.) his stomach. He loves to joke about fat Americans but has he at least peeked in a mirror’s general direction in the past ten years? He looks like he eats Big Macs like its his job… or a really engaging and fulfilling hobby.

        I just don’t understand this quasi beta male mindset.

      • 0 avatar

        Tresmonos:

        As noted in the review, they DID develop an entirely different rear stabilizer bar. It mounts differently than the regular one, it’s not simply thicker. Could this be the basis of the hearsay?

        Deadweight:

        As noted in the review, I personally find the ST’s styling to be tatsefully restrained. I say this as someone who would feel self-conscious driving an EVO or WRX/STI. Writing this review, I thought that people who dislike the standard Focus nose because it’s so aggressive would much prefer this one.

        As for the target audience of this styling being young, how does this explain the styling of Mercedes-Benz’s AMG models? I don’t think they’re aimed at 18- to 24-year-olds, but they’re far more “out there” than this car.

        Yes, the tangerine scream paint is showy, but there are other options.

      • 0 avatar
        tresmonos

        From what I heard it was supposed to have some level of complexity in the rear suspension that was killed due to tooling feasiblity. But that was a while ago, so maybe the complexity (stabilizer bar) made the cut as I can’t think of anything else that would have been different.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Mr. Chairman, kudos on an excellent portfolio but I’m curious how did you consolidate a student loan at 1.7%?

      • 0 avatar
        corntrollio

        It was easy to consolidate student loans at 1.7% a few years ago. The margin on federal loans back then was 0.6% and the 91-day Treasury was at 1.1%. This consolidation program no longer exists, and since then Congress has changed how Stafford loans work.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        I have probably the same deal on my consolidated student loans. It is 2.25%, but you get a .5% discount for letting them pluck the money out of your bank account automatically. So 1.75%. I’m in no hurry to pay it off at that rate. Used to be tax deductible for me too, which effectively cut it in half again.

        As to the car, I like it, but it needs a front bumper. I’d still probably buy a GTI though, plaid cloth seats conquer all, and the GTI is already more than fast enough to get you in trouble.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      If you have $30K in the bank, why would you use it to buy a car with interest rates as they currently are? Makes no sense to me. Put the money in the market, and use Ford’s money at 0% to buy the car! Or even just leave it in the bank just in case! The best time to borrow is when you don’t need to.

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        Some would question “putting” one’s savings “in the market” given a very 1930-1932is-esque rally amidst massive fiat dilution and a wall of worry composed of a list of things that are actually quite significant (maybe historically so).

        But hey, that’s what makes a low volume, radically interfered with, central bank targeted (Bernanke admitted as much on 60 Minutes) market!

        And I’m sure that strategy will be fail safe.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        Fine. Put the money in US Government bonds. I guarantee the payback will be higher than putting $30K into a depreciating car. And that is not even considering the fact that a dollar today is not the same as a dollar paid five years from now. 0%-.9% interest is FREE money, and anyone who is going to buy a car anyway is utterly stupid not to take advantage of it.

        My plain old bank savings account pays the same interest rate that BMW charges me on my note. And you still have the cash available for other emergencies. But no, of course all debt is just terrible! Terrible!

      • 0 avatar
        hubcap

        “If you have $30K in the bank, why would you use it to buy a car with interest rates as they currently are?”

        +1–why spend all your capital with interest rates the way they are? If you must spend, do it on something income producing. This really isn’t the place to get into this but there are many avenues you could pursue that could not only throw off more than enough cash for the monthly note (including insurance and operating expenses) with the added benefit of once the note is retired that cash continues flowing to you.

    • 0 avatar
      jim brewer

      Quit being such martyrs you guys and buy the darn car. I assume it meets your needs and is fundamentally within your means. i.e. you aren’t say, full time baristas.

      You have two cars with an average 150,000 miles between them. You are going to be in the market in a year or two no matter what. Ford happens to be offering 2% five year financing on this car. Its not much more than that at your credit union. You put 20,000 miles per year on your car or a little less. Truecar shows these things sell in the real world for about 24K. Make a reasonable down payment, say $5k. Get the extended 7 yr, 100k Ford factory esp basic warranty $50 deductible from floodford or another online discounter, for about $750 (pay cash for that, definitely) and you are set til the kids are in middle school with very little risk. Cost is about $333 per month. Bet you save a few bucks in gas, too. Ten dollars a day is not too much to pay for your transportation. If you sell the car in five years with some miles on the warranty, you get a good price.

      I’m a big believer in driving them until the wheels fall off, but not literally. Racing around in a panic because your car blew up and you have to buy a car that weekend is no fun. I know, because I’ve done it a couple of times. It will cost you a couple of thousand dollars, anyway.

      Or, you can save that money, collect your half percent interest on it, lose 2% every year to inflation and continue to drive your jalopies.

      Oh yeah, did I mention that your lives are finite? Every year you do without is a year you won’t get back.

      Don’t get me wrong. I basically share your attitude about these things. But that’s not the economic environment we are living in right this minute.

  • avatar
    Slicky

    So, the big question for me is Focus ST or GTI? Focus ST would appear to have GTI beat on electronic features (auto climate control/rain sensing wipers etc.) and performance. BUT IMHO GTI looks a bit more classy – exterior less boi-racer. GTI interior also appears less claustrophobic. Reliability – Ford vs. Volkswagen? Based on the interwebs, Ford would seem to have Volkswagen beat. . . .

    • 0 avatar
      TrailerTrash

      I thought I just read the GTI beats it to sixty but fades after the 1/4 mile…barely.
      So the GTI really seems to use its power better.

      here it is…
      http://www.roadandtrack.com/tests/comparison/ford-focus-st-vs.-volkswagen-gti-vs.-mazdaspee

      • 0 avatar
        dts187

        @Slicky
        I was shopping this segment for a while. WRX, Speed3, GTI, etc. After multiple test drives of each I ended up with a GTI for exactly the reasons you listed. The GTI looked much less overdone, the interior is spacious and comfortable, and the seats are some of the most comfortable (to my backside anyway) this side of Volvo.

        The ST is decent looking on the outside. I’m not crazy about the center exhaust exit. I do like the wheels and the car looks amazing from the side profile. The interior is what gets me. The whole dash setup is just blech. I’m not a fan of the colored seat inserts. Different strokes, different folks.

        The ST is getting some great reviews and is absolutely worthy of consideration for this segment. I may just have to give one a drive soon.

      • 0 avatar
        dave504

        Or maybe it’s the fact that they tested the lighter and quicker 2-door variant of the GTI against the 4-door Focus and MS3.

      • 0 avatar
        dts187

        @dave504

        It’s like 80lbs difference between the 2 and 4 door. Not insignificant but definitely not extreme.

      • 0 avatar
        Slicky

        @dts187

        How has your experience with the GTI been so far with re: to reliability, costs and overall comfort (other than seats of course)? The one thing that gives me pause about the GTI is the (reported) somewhat questionable reliability and the high prices that VW charges for routine service like oil changes. Also was curious if sporty ride gets tiring after awhile?

        Wish dealers offered loaners that people could rent for week or so for evaluation purposes. I find it very difficult to make meaningful observations on a 20 min test drive. More so with salesperson sitting shotgun. . . .

      • 0 avatar
        cyberc9000

        @Slicky

        VW maintenance is free for 3 years/36,000mi. You should be changing your own oil anyway.

      • 0 avatar
        dolorean

        @Slicky, the Zeck Ford Dealer in Leavenworth, KS, still has a lovely policy of letting you take home any car on its lot for the weekend. Have had several friends and neighbors ‘try out’ used and new vehicles before they did or didn’t buy it. It definitely gives you the better feel for the car, if its right for your purposes, as well as those options you felt you definitely could’ve lived without or can’t live with at all.

      • 0 avatar

        It looks like you misread, TT. They have the GTI beating the MS3 to sixty, then fading. They have the ST a half-second quicker. But the MS3 is much faster than the other two to 100 and 120. I think this is because they limit the MS3′s torque in the first two gears, so it only starts accelerating like a 263-horsepower car once in third.

        Really, though, I don’t see the primary value of this sort of car in straight line acceleration.

        Their data panel:

        http://www.roadandtrack.com/var/ezflow_site/storage_RT_NEW/storage/original/application/1f96f475abd65e5d3885960edf0b6c36.pdf

    • 0 avatar
      Thinkin...

      Depends on your usage I’d say. I’m fairly tall, and have a kid, so both the Focus and Mazda3 are right out. They both look like versatile do-it-all machines, but it is impossible for a person or carseat to be behind me when I’m driving either one. For my purposes, neither is much more practical than a Mustang.

      The GTI is slightly better, but go have a drive of the GLI. Proper room for a family in a similarly restrained design, yet far less ubiquitous than the GTI. Sure, unfortunately you lose the hatch, but the trunk and commendable back seat room make up for it in virtually all respects.

      http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/09/volkswagen-2-0t-intramural-league-first-place-2012-jetta-gli/

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        This is what I’ve been saying.

        The rear seat in the Focus is at the margin, and on the border of being not very useful for the tasks back seats are typically used for.

        Competitors have larger rear seats with far more room.

        Did Ford intentionally pinch the rear so as to keep midsize shoppers from going for a less expensive Focus versus the Fusion?

      • 0 avatar
        psarhjinian

        The problem is that relatively low roof and placement of the seats. The Focus isn’t the only car in this segment that does it, but it’s one of the worst.

        Interestingly, if you move down to subcompact class, most cars there (excepting the Fiesta and Mazda2) have very good rear space (and sometimes more space, total), often better than their compact big brothers. The Fit is the most extreme example of this, but it’s far from the only one.

        I think it’s because in these cars’ native markets they’re often complemented by tallboy MPV variants that we don’t get here.

    • 0 avatar
      cyberc9000

      The Focus ST has more power stock, and really, really nice optional Recaro seats. The GTI is a chip away from the same power level, the Autobahn seats are arguably just as good, and you have the option for the excellent 6-speed DSG. Everything else, the GTI wins hands down. It’s lighter, less moronic looking inside and out(especially regarding the center stack: who at Ford thought all those mismatched panels looked good?), has a higher quality interior, and it isn’t saddled with Sync.

      And regarding those Recaro seats, you can’t get them on the top option package for reasons only Ford could possibly explain.

      • 0 avatar
        discstickers

        “And regarding those Recaro seats, you can’t get them on the top option package for reasons only Ford could possibly explain.”

        Not true. The ST3 seats are the same Recaros. They’re just full-leather and heated.

        I actually wish you could get the color inserts with heated seats.

      • 0 avatar
        cyberc9000

        @discstickers

        I stand corrected. They don’t seem right without the color inserts though, on a car that’s so brash and shouty everywhere else.

    • 0 avatar
      Charlie84

      @Slicky:

      The GTI is based on a platform dating back to 2005, when the MkV came out. It’s a good platform, but it is beginning to show it’s age –particularly in the NVH department. What was exemplary for a European hatchback in 2005 is merely “acceptable” by current standards. The Mk7 should bring the Golf/GTI up to par with the Focus and weigh a whole lot less to boot. But the current Focus really is far beyond the Mk5 Golf/GTI in terms of NVH. It set a new benchmark for the class, so comparing it to such an old platform has predictable results. In terms of road manners, the Focus feels like a MUCH more expensive car.

      Before my current 2012 GLI, I had a 2010 Golf. My sister has an ’12 Focus SE w/ sport package. So, my comparison isn’t exactly apples-to-apples, but it’s close enough to be useful. If I had a GTI, the first thing I’d do is get rid of the ride- and performance-degrading 18″ wheels in favor of some lighter 17s. And, of course, decent tires. The Golf/GTI definitely has the edge in interior design, build quality, and outward visibility.

    • 0 avatar
      tylanner

      I was in this boat, except with the GLI flavor.

      It was ultimately that boi-racer aura that turned me off. Nothing against the car but I’m 26 and it just didn’t fit.

      On the other hand, a Focus RS would take boi-racer aura to slightly less attention seeking car-guy territory.

      I am waiting for the RS.

    • 0 avatar
      hubcap

      “So, the big question for me is Focus ST or GTI?”

      You might want to delay your purchase until next year when the MK VII GTI (and new WRX) will be available for purchase.

    • 0 avatar
      dts187

      @Slicky

      I’ve not had the GTI long enough to really comment on reliability. Everything has been solid and I’ve not had any of the typical Golf/GTI initial issues (Wind noise complaints, door rattles). I have free maintenance for 36k so I’ve not paid anything out of pocket. I’m sure a lot of the costs depend on the dealership. My local VW dealership is very friendly and prompt, but does seem to charge more than others. After my maintenance period I’ll do most of the service myself. The only thing that makes me nervous is the DSG service.

      The ride quality is one of the reasons I went with the GTI. This is my daily driver on WV roads. They’re a choppy, pot hole ridden affair. The WRX and Speed3 were downright harsh in test drives. You do feel it in the GTI but no where near as bad. It seems to be a great middle ground between performance and comfort. Exactly what I was looking for. The interior of the GTI is nice. Soft touch everywhere that counts, nice steering wheel, simple control layout, and a very solid feel. I’m 6’1 185lb and have long legs. I fit in the GTI just fine. Side note, I test drove a Volvo C30 and it may be worth checking out. It’s something different, very comfortable, and not a bad driver. I couldn’t stand the clutch, though.

    • 0 avatar
      rickyc

      Once again the GTI rules as an “all around package”. Everything in the GTI just seems better laid out with a better seating position. Buy a GTI and flash it for $500 and you got 250hp which is more than enough for the street.

  • avatar
    TrailerTrash

    I guess my question is…why no automatic?
    The GTI allows for it.
    The more agressive AUDI 3 offers it.
    I am sure this much torque is available with auto on ther cars.
    The Escape with the same engine allows for it.
    Is it price??? More buyers want auto, don’t they?

    I just get cheated because my family refuses to drive stick…so I can’t get a fun car I WANT!
    Is it so difficult to do?

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      The DCT used on the regular Focus can’t handle the torque. The only automatic transmission you will see on a Focus ST, if it ever happens, would be a DCT. Based on the reviews of the regular Focus transmission, you’d be better off with manual.

    • 0 avatar
      Nostrathomas

      Time to get a new family! ;)

      Sometimes it’s nice when you are the only one that can drive stick. Nobody asks to borrow your car, kids won’t drive it when you’re away, it keeps thieves confused.

      My advice, get the fun car you want and let life and those around you adapt.

      • 0 avatar
        TrailerTrash

        you haven’t met my wife so you don’t realize her power.
        I mean she totes around some real guns!
        She goes to scratch her head and I duck! Talk about skittish now…I am afraid of her shaddow!

        Yes…dear, I hear you. Just shakin the bush.

    • 0 avatar
      dolorean

      TT, I feel for you bro, but I would seriously question the sporting pretensions of the ST if it came with a slushbox; even one with stoopid flappy paddles. Ford is still smarting from the drubbing Car mags and blogs gave the brand when the ’96 SHO came only as a foru-speed auto, not the slick shifting 5 spd manual.

      • 0 avatar
        LeeK

        I’ll have to respectfully call you on that, dolorean. The 1989-1995 SHOs had anything but a “slick-shifting” five speed manual. My left leg is still slightly larger from all the extra effort I expended depressing that clutch for the three years I drove one. The transmission’s origins started with a Mazda industrial truck, and its execution left a lot to be desired — vague shifting gates with gooey action between gears and high clutch effort. It was not one of Ford’s better efforts.

        I will agree with you completely though about the absence of a manual option in the third generation SHO (1996) insured the flight of enthusiast crowd. I bailed and went to the much more refined SVT Contour as soon as it came out in 1997.

        What the Focus ST reminds me of is the 2002 SVT Focus, which was a sweet riding — if not very fast — vehicle worthy of the Hot Hatch distinction.

      • 0 avatar
        corntrollio

        That 5-speed manual transmission was originally used for the 1st gen SHO because Ford had no automatics at the time capable of handling the power of the engine. They later developed one, of course.

        Those early Contours were a lot better before the beancounters got involved.

      • 0 avatar
        DC Bruce

        Oh, GMAFB, leek. I owned a 92 SHO for 10 years. The clutch was not particularly heavy . . . and I’ve been driving manuals a long time.

        The clutch was a problem on the first and second generation SHOs because it was developed for a small Mazda pickup that had less torque than the Yamaha V-6. The throwout bearing (not the clutch disc) failed on mine pretty early . . . something like 30K miles. After some threats and lawyers stuff (what I do for a living), FoMoCo assumed most of the cost of repair (the car was out of the warranty period).

        You want a heavy clutch? Try a 1969 Dodge 440 Magnum. That’s a heavy clutch.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      You’d think they could use the 6-speed automatic from the new Fusion if they wanted to, but it apparently isn’t a very nice transmission. Car and Driver rated it lower than the CVT in the Altima in this month’s comparison test. Then again, Mazda doesn’t offer an automatic in the related MazdaSpeed 3, so maybe it doesn’t fit. OTOH, isn’t the Range Rover Epuke a Focus under the skin?

  • avatar
    Caraholica

    Well written review. In fact, Micheal’s reviews are the most informative and detailed of any print mag these days. I really appreciate the information especially since he’s not afraid to say he likes to drive hard.

    What I find most intriguing is how Ford managed to make the Focus seem like a legitimate $30k car and how the 3/4 sized Fiesta can be so good at half that price. I agree about the narrow view from the driving position, or am I just getting older and like the sit up position that GTI’s bring. Just hoping these can age well, they will make great used buy’s in a couple of years.

  • avatar
    joberg73

    I have a nearly pristine ’04 MINI S JCW that I absolutely love. But this actually has me thinking of selling the JCW and buying a Ford.

  • avatar
    discstickers

    I had one of these on order since May. ST3 with the Tangerine Scream paint. I cancelled about a month ago and bought a used 335 instead. Ford really bungled the buyer outreach, going months without updating us with info on the build delays.

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      I thought Ford made it clear in late June or early July that the ST3 package was delayed until Q4 because of the HID issue.

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      My dealer let me know the week of 4th of July. I don’t know when ST3s will be delivered because I got a C-Max instead. $3000 from work for a hybrid was too much for me to walk away from.

    • 0 avatar
      Krampus

      I think it may have been you dealership that boggled that one up. I ordered an ST3 in July and have received 4 mail updates and a phone call. The mail updates also included ST branded memorabilia; a die cast model ST, a T-shirt, a key chain and poster, and finally a hat. They started building ST3s on October 1st. Several have been delivered, but still I’m waiting to take delivery sometime next week.

    • 0 avatar

      At the event they said they have started shipping the ST3s.

      • 0 avatar
        Krampus

        They haven’t started shipping dealer ordered ST3′s, but several forum members have already taken delivery of their pre-ordered cars. If you’d like to verify that for yourself, have a look in here: http://fordstnation.com/f4-my-st.html

  • avatar
    slance66

    A used version seems like a great potential replacement for my 328xi in several years, especially if gas prices are still north of $4 a gallon. Would need to see how cramped the cockpit feels.

    The performance-mileage compromise here is fantastic.

    Steve

    • 0 avatar
      cugrad

      I sat in a ST2 a few months ago. At 6’2 and 200 lbs, I found it very claustrophobic. My head was only an inch from the ceiling, the shoulder bolsters cut too sharply into my shoulders (possibly adjustable but the saleswoman didn’t know), and the center console left very little room for my legs. It felt much tighter than my 2005 Mazda3, which is of course in the same segment. I was really hoping to like the ST but I just don’t think I could live w/ it on long trips. It actually felt more cramped to me than my S2000.

  • avatar
    chops13

    Honestly, this is the car that convinced me to go FWD. I’d been a lifelong RWD or AWD driver thinking there were just too many compromises in a FWD car. But this thing is far more neutral than any FWD vehicle I’ve ever driven before.

    After just two test drives I sold my 2005 Saab 9-2x Aero (Saabaru) and picked up an Oxford White Focus ST w/ the ST2 package, nav and moonroof. By far the best appointed vehicle I’ve ever owned and the speed, handling, and fuel economy are icing on the cake.

    Absolutely love this car.

  • avatar

    I don’t care if they ARE rear-wheel-drive, Toyobaru nirvana; I would most definitely take the Ford Focus ST over the Subaru BRZ and Scion FR-S, “Tangerine Scream” paint and all…

    But at this price, Ford should have included HID projector headlamps.

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      I agree. That is the one issue I have with the ST, as well as the Focus Titanium. The Golf GTI and TDI both get HIDs.

    • 0 avatar
      tresmonos

      Marketing. Compared to the HID lamps, I actually like the aesthetics of the regular halogen lamps. You can’t beat the visibility of the HID’s, though.

      Now if they only used the same harnesses for the ST1/ST2/ST3…

    • 0 avatar

      Very different cars. I’m currently driving an FR-S in West Virginia, the fleet people dropped it off the day after the Focus ST drive. The Focus is far more day-to-day livable. But on a curvy road fancy electronics cannot entirely substitute for a truly balanced weight distribution and rear-wheel-drive. I’m glad I have the FR-S in the mountains, but would much prefer a Focus ST for a daily driver. And that’s before factoring in the near total uselessness of the FR-S’s rear seat.

      • 0 avatar
        joneill1955

        Interesting that you’re now driving an FR-S. Which in your opinion would be faster around a race track, FR-S or ST?

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        That pdf you listed earlier from C&D showed that they returned barely 20mpg with the Focus ST.

        They must have been driving it like they stole it 24/7.

        They also gave ride quality edge to the VW GTI by a fairly wide margin.

        You conceded you didn’t drive the Focus ST on anything approaching poor roads, but maybe you should make a point of doing so, especially when you heap praise on the ride quality.

  • avatar
    philadlj

    Ford has no public plans for an Focus ST sedan or wagon, either here in NA or elsewhere.

  • avatar
    Verbal

    Dear Santa, I have been a very good boy this year….

  • avatar
    gessvt

    Any updates on the speculation that a Focus RS is in the works? There’s supposed to be a dedicated performance turbo 4 in Ford’s plans for the new Mustang. Easy way to amortize, right?

    One would hope that this is Ford’s WRX, with an STi waiting in the wings.

  • avatar
    86SN2001

    This is one hideous car. It’s level of ugliness is the same as the Lincoln MKFlex.

    The front is horrid and the rest of the appliance looks like it was melted in the oven. Its awful.

    Why can’t Ford come out with attratcive designs that are cohesive from front to rear?

    They have the most incompetant designers the industry had ever seen.

    • 0 avatar
      el scotto

      Yeah and Chevy will have a VW GTI equivalent any day now. Not. Don’t like it, don’t buy it. We understand you’re on a Ford jihad. I’m starting to like your consistency of calling all Ford cars appliances and hating their designs; same comment different car type of thing

      • 0 avatar
        86SN2001

        Well, the truth is sometimes redundant. At least it is with Ford.

        And what does Chevy have to do with this? This is a story about a mediocre Ford that looks like it was exposed to nuclear radiation.

      • 0 avatar
        el scotto

        The Chevy ties in with the Focus being compared to a VW GTI. You have yet to tell us, other than not liking the styling, why you think it’s mediocre. Many people praise this car in the article and the comments. Your contributions are: It’s ugly, it’s mediocre, Ford sucks. Many of us find you tiring.

    • 0 avatar
      raph

      Alright Ackerson, knock it off, ’tis most unprofessional posing as a pissed-off GM diehard disparaging Fords products hoping that everybody will forget about the bailout.

  • avatar
    Scott_314

    Holy crap. I knew this was going to be a good car but it’s practically a segment buster.

  • avatar
    bludragon

    Looks really nice, but I’ve driven a 5 series with variable ratio steering up a mountain road and it was a disaster compared to my ‘numb’ electric fwd civic. Does your brain re-calibrate to it over time, and then what happens when you get in the other car?

    In past TTAC reviews the GLI has been praised for its livable spring rates and spot on damping. The ‘busy’ feeling comment gives me the impression the tuning here is for more of a sporty feel?

    How is the DBW/emissions related throttle lag, and then the turbo lag?

    The fuel economy, refinement and chassis balance all sound excellent.

    • 0 avatar

      The ST has variable ratio steering, where the ratio quickens to a fixed degree as the wheel is turned. It’s not active steering, where the ratio is varied in a somewhat unpredictable fashion. The BMW in question would have had the latter.

      I personally found the GLI’s suspension to be borderline harsh. I haven’t driven a GTI recently, but compared to the GLI the Focus ST’s refinement is in a different league. I did not have the opportunity to drive the ST on truly awful roads, though.

      This is one of those turbos where there’s no obvious sensation of lag, just a soft response to the throttle at low rpm. Get the revs up and there’s zero lag. The ST launches hard, it’s very easy to spin the tires.

    • 0 avatar
      cyberc9000

      The MkVII GTI is getting variable steering as well, which eliminates it from contention for the replacement for my MkVI. Leave my steering alone dammit!

      Then again, I’m one of those guys who is still mourning the slow death of hydraulic power steering. My old GTP sometimes felt more connected to the wheel than my GTI does thanks to it, despite the difference in engineering quality between Pontiac and Volkswagen.

  • avatar
    comrade slow

    I drove the ST on an autocross-like course at a Ford Drive Performance event in August. I was extremely impressed with the performance, handling and grip, seat support and comfort – all in a package that is a comfortable and practical for daily driving. I truly hope it sells well and stays on the market, and pushes the evolution of all economical performance cars forward.

  • avatar
    srogers

    I’m pissed off that Ford of Canada is starting these at $30K. If I were serious about getting a new car, I’d be visiting my friendly US dealer and driving one of these home from there.

    • 0 avatar
      K L

      That’s because the only package we have in Canada is what passes as the ST3 in the US, i.e. our ‘base’ Focus ST has full leather Recaros, heated seats, and HID headlights. The only options are the tech package (MyFordTouch, improved audio system, dual-zone temp), moonroof, and navigation. I understand the rationale for keeping the selections minimal, but its unfortunate that we won’t be able to pick up a ‘no frills’ model for around $26k.

      Still, I’d have to say that this is one heck of a deal for anyone in the market for a premium hot hatch (5-door GTIs start at almost $32k in the Great White North).

    • 0 avatar
      JuniperBug

      The plus side is that it makes it easier to justify spending less for the 300 hp Mustang. I can live with that.

  • avatar
    daiheadjai

    I quite like this…. The fact that it has something of a rally-bred heritage makes it even cooler.
    These new Focuseseses (Foci?) look quite good as hatches.

  • avatar
    Joss

    Could KIA come close in a year or so for less and fewer parts?

  • avatar
    hubcap

    I like this car and really don’t understand the “boy racer” comments. Maybe its just me but I happen to like the fact that it doesn’t just blend in like some milquetoast appliance.

    And if a Focus ST is “boy racer” in appearance what on God’s green earth is the trilogy of Camry, Accord, and Sonata? Are they the automotive equivalent of a flaccid member or perhaps a rolling lobotomy.

    Anyway dear ones, the MK VII GTI is on its way as well as a new WRX which has been liberated from its economy car roots (allegedly) and hopefully a new MazdaSpeed 3 will also join the fray. All will be very good cars but the WRX, from the info I’ve been able to gather, will be a beast.

    Competition is a wonderful thing.

    • 0 avatar
      loj

      Conversely, why would someone want to spend $30k on a car that conveys a message about the driver that is inaccurate? This car is most probably amazing to drive, but I couldn’t drive a car that screams “bath salts and Skrillex” as loudly as this one does.

      Now I think a “base” Focus sedan or hatch with this car’s performance goodies and (monochrome ferchrissakes) Recaros would be tempting.

      To each his own. I’m not the target demographic for this car anyway.

      And for the record, I think the Sonata and Camry are very well-designed cars. The 2008-2012 Accord sedan is an abomination but the 2013 is really not bad. The 2014 Mazda6 is drop-dead gorgeous,

      • 0 avatar
        hubcap

        “Conversely, why would someone want to spend $30k on a car that conveys a message about the driver that is inaccurate?”

        I really don’t know how to answer that question because people can and do have differing perceptions about the same event or in this case the same car which leads back to my original point. If you don’t like the car for whatever reason then by all means don’t buy it.

        But if you’re fearing someone will see you as something you’re not on account of the car you drive and that keeps you from purchasing something you really want, well, I see that as a problem.

        You are who you are regardless of what you drive. I don’t know about you but I’d go bat sh*t crazy if I worried what people thought of me based on the type or brand of vehicle I drive.

        As for the Sonata and the Camry that’s great you think they’re well designed, because they are, but to me they’re incredibly boring but my feelings towards them shouldn’t influence yours.

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        Spending 30k on a Focus, no matter how it’s equipped nor how much power they are able to squeeze out of its transversely mounted motor, isn’t rational (I’m not saying many people will actually pay 30k for a Focus ST when a new Mustang GT can be had for the same price or less from the same dealership in real transaction terms, but maybe a few will).

        At that price point, there are better vehicles to do what the Focus ST attempts (a VW Golf R with AWD can be had for 33k), and there are far better vehicles for a shade or two more.

        Part of the irrationality of Ford’s premium pricing strategy doesn’t just center around the absolute price of their vehicles, but the spread between the low and high end versions of the same model. In this case, it’s about 15k, at least going by MSRP. Lower end Focus S models with a stick go for around 15k in terms of actual transaction terms.

  • avatar
    gosteelerz

    Stopped reading when Michael mentioned the curb weight. I know this car is not about straight lines but anything this tarted up should not get blown away by a Camry.

  • avatar
    30-mile fetch

    Choosing between this and the GTI would be difficult. Sounds like the ST is fast and nimble without being loud and harsh. I like the GTI’s restrained styling better, but opting for a less vocal color on the ST might tone it down enough for me. Cool car.

    • 0 avatar
      dolorean

      The difference to me is the level of what you get. Both offer great packages, but what I love about the ST is it comes with everything I would have checked the box for. HID headlights on the GTI not the ST? Easily modified with a large mods market and add to it, I get a slicker looking ST that doesn’t look like an SE Sport. I’m already judging how much lower I can make it and approximating how much more boost I can push through the engine. I just don’t get the same level of anticipation for making it mine for the GTI.

    • 0 avatar
      LeeK

      It’s a much newer car than the current generation GTI, so it does look to be a better buy. With the Mark VII GTI coming to the US in about eighteen months of so with a 10% more powerful engine, I suspect the gap between the two will get smaller, and I can’t say that the GTI would be the winner — we’ll have to wait and see.

      The GTI has tons of refinement on its side, plus a legacy of the Hot Hatch that was re-embraced by VW in the Mark V and VI generations. It is down on power compared to the competition, and that has been mentioned over and over again by the buff books whenever the GTI competes in a comparison. The Focus has a lot going for it with its sophisticated suspension and more powerful engine and looks to be a very worthy choice in this category.

    • 0 avatar
      seth1065

      The Ford is Fugly inside while the GTI is a hell of alot better inside to look at.

  • avatar
    ponchoman49

    This is a car geared toward the 18-25 set. Trouble is I don’t know very many in that age group that could afford a $500-600 car payment per month for one of these rather over priced boy racer hatches.

    • 0 avatar
      el scotto

      I had a couple of rides when I was in my 20′s that took too much of money. I didn’t give a hoot, I had my ride. Other than my car note major expenses were rent,drinking money, beer in the fridge, and pizza delivery. I imagine a lot 20 somethings still act like this.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      No, it really isn’t. A 20yo who can afford the payments STILL can’t afford the insurance. Unless they are rich kids with Mom and Dads money – and that is a SMALL market. These cars are bought by guys in their 40s and 50s who want to feel young.

      • 0 avatar
        gsf12man

        Thanks for the wheezy cliche, but is it possible some will be bought by 40 and 50-somethings who like driving fast, useful cars that handle?

      • 0 avatar
        th009

        @gsf12man, I do agree … but many of the 40-50-year-olds might prefer the more toned-down styling of a GTI or a Golf R.

      • 0 avatar
        gsf12man

        @th009, no argument there—GTIs look great inside and out. If I had my druthers, the ST would have something closer to the standard car’s front-end styling. But it’s still top of my must-have list; good from most angles, and I can learn to love the nose, eventually.

        • 0 avatar
          Maxseven

          Agreed about the ST’s nose. The Titanium version front-end looks much better – firmly planted and aggressive. The offset and isolated driving light wells on the Titanium along with pillared lower grill are superior looking. From certain angles, the ST’s front looks too-rounded; An optical illusion perhaps, but still very lame and weak looking.

          I wonder if it is possible to swap bonnet and front end between models?

    • 0 avatar
      el scotto

      10K down after a one year deployment is doable for many. Live in the barracks (cause you’re gone half the time anyway), eat in the chow hall, and have your ride. Find out you have skill sets that pay well in the civilian world? 50k for a 22yo straight out of the military is not unheard of. I work in a niche field that requires specialized skill sets and qualifications. We keep hiring.

    • 0 avatar
      jim brewer

      That backseat looks pretty gruesome.

      Actually, it looks more like $350 per month with a $ 5-6 K downpayment and a five year note. Truecar puts sales in the $24K range in my area. If you buy the extended Ford factory warranty through an online discounter (a peculiarity of Ford is they allow any dealer to sell extended factory warranties to any new Ford customer) its a reasonable car for a young person with a real job.

      I don’t think Ford does a very good job with colors and trim. They should always have a couple of colors that go against type for the car that they are selling, besides red or white. For one thing, some hip type cars just look better for some reason with more conservative colors, like the Fiat 500.

      A buyer might think that the more conservative color will attract less attention from the police or thieves, or be more appropriate for professional reasons. A self-aware 25 year old phasing out the headbanger stage of his life might realize that a gray Focus ST will allow him, as a social matter, the option to stay in his ride longer than an orange car would.

  • avatar
    Thill

    Having driven a Focus SE about 6 months ago, I am glad to read that this car really addressed one of my biggest complaints with that car, the engine. After reading all the rave reviews about the Focus, I was really not impressed with engine performance or the interior. To me it felt very cheap and I really did not like the MyTouch system.

    I too felt the backseat was cramped for a 5 door hatchback, and was hoping for a little better.

    I will definitely give the ST a test drive. I am curious how it stacks up against a MazdaSpeed3 and a GTI. I thought the GTI had the best interior and was the best daily driver when I drove them all back to back, but then I remembered I was driving a VW and had flashbacks to two previous horrible reliability and customer service issues I had with VW, and had to move on. The Speed3, by far, was the most fun to drive. It had the most power, and the best handling, but the boy racer looks were a turnoff along with the really busy and cheap interior.

  • avatar
    SV

    This is probably my dream car right now, at least in the realm of cars I have any hope of affording. I’ll admit that my tastes are starting to drift towards the more subdued, styling-wise, but not enough to knock this out of my number 1 spot. I love it all around.

    Of course I haven’t even graduated yet so it’s all a bit of a pipe dream, but if I get a decent job and live at home for a year or so…it would be doable, if not perhaps the smartest financial decision in the world.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    DO WANT. This appeals to my more practical side. And the hatchback is the most attractive version of the Focus.

  • avatar

    it looks naff in yellow. i like the black version the best; looks like a certain well-known villain (http://photos.spriggs.net/archives/001512.html for a shot of mine).

    the only thing i don’t like about the car is the ridiculously flawed micro$£op computer. it constantly complains about the missing backup camera that i know isn’t installed in my car.

  • avatar
    Nedmundo

    I tested one of these, so I’ll address a few issues. First, I’m 45 and thus outside the “target demographic” some posit for this car. I don’t care. I do, however, care about power, handling, practicality, a good manual transmission, and fuel economy, and I agree with Michael that the ST offers a phenomenal blend of these, especially for the price. In fact, I thought it provided a more engaging drive than the 2012 BMW 328i Sport Line I tested, which is isolating and numb in comparison despite its superior RWD dynamics. The ST’s steering is better than the BMW’s, and it provides a quieter highway ride than my 2010 Acura TSX. This combination of performance and refinement is impressive indeed. Plus, in silver and black at least, the ST doesn’t look too “boy racer” IMO. I think I’d get silver.

    It’s not perfect though. It doesn’t have enough cargo space for family road trips, and the cabin does feel cramped. I generally don’t mind compact cars, so I’m not sure this would bother me over the long term, but I did notice, possibly because my TSX is so wide. The large turning radius would be a hassle, and the interior doesn’t seem as solid as my Acura’s. Finally, on our “textured” Philly roads, the suspension is close to the limit of what I can tolerate for a daily driver. I’d be okay with it, but my younger daughter didn’t like it on the test drive, calling it “too bumpy.” I suspect my wife would agree with her. Finally, while I’d want the ST3 for the HID lights, I’d like to avoid MyFord Touch.

    Despite these issues, if I had to replace my TSX today, I think I’d get the ST. As it stands, I’ll see how its reliability pans out, and watch for the new WRX and a couple others.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    :A narrative for picture 9:

    “Try as it might, the ST just couldn’t pull away from the mighty Enclave tailing me.”

  • avatar
    KitaIkki

    Ford appears to have moved the location of the parking brake handle. Didn’t it used to be to the left of the shifter?

  • avatar
    EVOXNJ

    On my early morning drive home I got to see one of these get close to my rear bumper. I saw all yellow and a face I’ve never seen before, so I graciously moved my EVO over to the next lane so I could see what type of car was getting my attention. I was shocked it was a Ford and then I noticed the red ST on the bumper. Nice looking car. My exit was coming soon and traffic wasn’t clear enough for a spirited drive. But we both got on the gas a little, EVO had no problem overtaking but I must admit I’m tuned with light mods. The driver gave a nice thumbs up, instead of the stinky face so I’m a fan of this car already. Good move by Ford, should make nice power with mods.

  • avatar
    thornmark

    R & T has a review of the new GTI and they say it’s MUCH better than the Focus ST if it comes to the US in the same form.

    “If last year’s Focus ST raised the bar in terms of handling, the new GTI has just knocked that bar out of the park…..”
    http://www.roadandtrack.com/car-reviews/first-drives/first-drive-2015-volkswagen-gti-review

    They also said the GTI seemed like it had 100 more horsepower than the ST.

    And the GTI is more comely, not so unfortunate-looking as the ST to boot.

  • avatar

    I purchased one of these in February, largely because this review made me aware of the car, to replace my Audi A7. I was looking to downsize back to a hot hatch and got it narrowed down to the ST and GTI. I liked the looks of the ST better.

    After 4,400 miles, I still smile every time I drive the car. Handles smoothly while pottering about town and plenty of fun when I goose it. Although at age 45, I suspect I’m out of the target demo and not goosing anything as much as when I was 25.

    Minor quibbles. The wheel hop on the 1-2 shift under WOT is pretty bad and ends with a “bang!” Ford should have put a stiffer rear motor mount in there as stock and I’ll probably put the E-Focus RMM in at some point over the summer. My Ford Touch is still a little touchy and needs the occasional three finger salute reboot. And the turning circle’s pretty big for a small car.

    Got what I was looking for and think it will hold me off for another 3-4 years until I get the itch to switch again.


Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Subscribe without commenting

Recent Comments

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Staff

  • Authors

  • Brendan McAleer, Canada
  • Marcelo De Vasconcellos, Brazil
  • Matthias Gasnier, Australia
  • W. Christian 'Mental' Ward, Abu Dhabi
  • Mark Stevenson, Canada
  • Faisal Ali Khan, India