By on October 5, 2016

2016 Ford Focus ST

The origins of this series focused on wheels inhabiting the dank basements of the price scale for particular models. This suggestion, then, helpfully sent in by a member of the B&B, doesn’t appear to fit that measure.

However, I and a few others consider the ST to be a model unto itself, not unlike the manner in which Volkswagen treats the almighty GTI in the Golf lineup. So, what can buyers expect in a No Frills model of the Ford Focus ST?

Swilling spicy 93-octane fuel, the turbocharged direct-injection 2.0-liter EcoBoost engine cranks out 252 horsepower and 270 lb-ft of torque. The only transmission available is a six-speed manual, the way nature and Henry Ford intended. Trying to sell the idea of buying an ST to your significant other? The EPA rated 31 miles per gallon should help, as will the practicality afforded by its five-door hatchback body style.

The $0 hue of Race Red shown above is my preferred extrovert colour, especially in the light of Ford seeing fit to grab $595 for the popular Tangerine Scream. Kona Blue is also a no charge choice if one prefers to look like Barney the Dinosaur, while the gratis Magnetic and Shadow Black paint options will allow drivers to melt into traffic like butter on toast.

The ST uses a MacPherson gas-charged strut with coil springs and reverse-L lower control arms, all of which are designed to reduce torque steer. This was heady stuff a few years ago, and for it to show up on a $22,800 hatchback that’s able to lap VIR within shouting distance of an EcoBoost Mustang is nothing short of remarkable. Natty 18-inch rims look good too.

Those 18s are shod with Goodyear Eagle F1 summer tires as standard equipment. Mind-bendingly, Ford will happily charge shoppers $30 for the opportunity of downgrading to Pirelli all-seasons. This is reportedly in response to the carping of rust belt owners who didn’t like shelling out a grand for winter rubber so they could drive their STs when the snow flies. Here’s a nickel’s worth of free advice: stick with the sticky F1s and charge a set of Nokian Hakkapeliitta’s to your VISA. Year round fun, guaranteed.

Ford’s Sync 3 is a big improvement over the late and unlamented MyFordTouch, but it doesn’t make an appearance unless one selects the $2,995 Equipment Group 401A. Fuhgeddaboudit. The base tunes are more than adequate, include handsfree capability, and mercifully no longer make the dashboard look like a relief map of a Klingon’s forehead.

Allow me an aside here: why does Ford insist on using equipment group names which are better suited to a fax machine? The jaded amongst you will say I am merely worshipping at the altar of captive marketing, but I do appreciate creativity on a vehicle option sheet. The opportunity to order a Sun & Sound package far outstrips the cold and sanitized experience of checking the box for Equipment Group 401A. To wit:

“Cool! A Focus ST! Did you get the Recaros?”

“Yes. I opted to choose Equipment Group 401A. It is a satisfactory package.”

“ … ”

But I digress. As it sits, with no extra options, the Focus ST makes a great case for itself to be included in this series. Of course, the ST’s big brother, the mighty but delivery-plagued RS, gets all the press and recognition. In many circles — sports, politics, automotive journalism — big brothers often do. With the ST, though, one will enjoy 0-60 blasts in the neighborhood of six seconds while avoiding the wallet-hoovering price tag of the RS.

Not every vehicle at the instant ramen end of its price spectrum has aced it. The ones which have? They help make our automotive landscape a lot better. Naturally, feel free to roast our selection and let us know if there are other models you’d like included in this series.

The model above is shown with American options and is priced in Freedom Dollars. As of this writing, the listed price of $22,800 includes a $2500 lease incentive. More incentives may exist. Do your research and bargain hard.

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55 Comments on “Ace of Base: 2016 Ford Focus ST...”


  • avatar
    ajla

    Just saying, the Cadillac website shows the CTS-v as a separate model.

  • avatar

    Often the best version of a car for real world use isn’t the top line model. I’ve always tried to figure out what the engineers designed before the marketers “make it softer” or “make it racy”.

    My TDi had the Golf Sport suspension, not sold here. Endless discussion on the VW boards and some actual tests showed it more compliant and as fast as GTi settings.

    Caddy has the CTS-V, but below that, is the CTS V-Sport. You don’t get a Blown Vette motor and summer tires, but it might be more livable…of course, I’ve seen few tests of one, and never seen a Vsport in the wild.

    Always been this way…back in the day, I wanted a Firebird Formula, NOT the Trans-Am….

    You want the stiffest car that can live on a street, not a track special…would I love a CTS – V or an ///M series car ? Sure. Would I want to drive it to NYC ? Hell NO.

    Q ships FTW

    • 0 avatar
      Car Guy

      I had a 1989 Formula Firebird back in the day. To me they looked slightly meaner than the TA. Great car. One of my top 5 favorites I’ve owned.

    • 0 avatar
      White Shadow

      From what I remember, the Firebird Formula had the same basic drivetrain and suspension as a Trans-Am. But of course it didn’t have all the fancy “ground effects” of the TA. So I wouldn’t call it a lesser or softer car in any way. If anything, it was probably a bit lighter weight than the TA, no?

      Same exact thing with fox body Mustangs of the same era. The GT had the ground effects and the LX (especially the notch back) was the lightweight version that was usually just a tiny bit faster because of its lighter weight. Mechanically, the cars were identical.

  • avatar
    Car Guy

    Great to see this story. I was one of the people who suggested this would be a great vehicle for the ace of base series. I am the owner of a 2016 ST base ST1 model. Picked mine up last month and with all the incentives it was $20,200 plus tax and doc fees. About 1K miles in its an awesome car. I can live without the Ricaro seats (which BTW many people dont like), navigation, etc and the base model provides all the power options you would expect plus keyless ignition.

    I’ve already done a cold air intake, Cobb tuner, and short throw shifter plate. I have the all season tires and planning on doing a set of summer only tires on 19″ Focus RS rims. Plenty of power and torque to making the daily commute something to look forward to again.

  • avatar
    White Shadow

    At the end of the day it’s still a Focus.

    Sorry, not a fan of hatches…even “hot” hatches. And it’s not just hatches, I suppose. The kids racing around in SRT Neons seem to be part of the same demographic. Kinda reminds me of the Shelby GLHS back in the 80s. Tarted up econoboxes just arent’ my thing.

    • 0 avatar
      Car Guy

      I use to agree with that and laughed at anything without a V8. But given the versatility a hatch offers with gear and kids at this point in life its a good alternative to any SUV. By contrast, even a base Mustang GT is going to run you 10 grand more and the back seat is a total penalty box. I can actually put an adult in the back seat of a Focus.

      With a few basic mods the ST puts out 270HP/330TQ and that will get your attention.

      • 0 avatar
        gtemnykh

        Sorry but I don’t see how a Focus hatchback stacks up as a legitimate alternative to an SUV in terms of utility. Maybe if you’re a bachelor and just need to haul a bike or some other bulky thing and can fold the seats, and even then the total space can’t really handle everything But throw in car seats (Focus rear seat room stinks), and you’re left with a pretty mediocre amount of space. Now something like a VW Golf Sportwagen, that’s somewhat more reasonable of an argument, but still falls short for tall cargo.

        • 0 avatar
          Car Guy

          The cargo volume in the Focus hatch is on par with small SUV’s like the Honda HRV and Chevy Trax. There is definitely some utility to be had. Of course if hauling is mandatory forget the sport aspect unless you shell out big cash for a Porsche Cayanne or Range Rover Sport….

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            I wouldn’t consider those “SUVs” by any stretch, those are subcompact-CUVs. And even with the HRV comparison, the Focus 44 cu ft with seats down pales in comparison to the HRV’s 59. They both have 24cu ft seats up. For what it’s worth, that same 44cu ft is how much space I have in the back of my 4Runner without even folding the rear row of seats. That’s what I consider a true SUV.

        • 0 avatar
          Synchromesh

          Sorry but I’d love to see you park your Sportwagen where I live in the city. It’ll be a pain and you can expect tickets when you block someone’s driveway.

          I just don’t understand this obsession with space. If you live in the country, sure there is plenty of it but if you live in the city – you want a small car. I’ll take that FiST over any SUV/CUV. Why? Because I can’t stand those in any guise – they’re party poopers.

    • 0 avatar
      darex

      Need I point out that every SUV/CUV is a hatch, too? Saying you hate hatches is pretty idiotic. It’s like saying, “I hate can-openers.”

      • 0 avatar
        brettc

        Friggin’ can openers, always opening cans like it’s nothing.

      • 0 avatar
        White Shadow

        Thanks for telling me that my opinion is idiotic. You know what they say about opinions, right?

        Sorry if it offends you, but I don’t like hatches. Does an SUV have a hatch? Technically, I suppose it does. But if you can’t differentiate between a Focus, and say, a Tahoe, I don’t think we have much more to discuss. Besides, you apparently ignored the rest of my comment where I mention that it’s not just hatches, but rather souped up econoboxes that I don’t like.

        • 0 avatar
          yamahog

          Yeah, my pocket book can differentiate between the two. You can get a Tahoe and look like a soccer mom with a car payment. Or you can get an ST and save 35-45k. Which goes a long way to renting trucks at Home Depot when you need to haul something.

          Tahoes aren’t as useful as most people insist they are. The 3rd row seats suck more than the rear seats of a Fiesta (and that’s saying something). The towing capacity is nice but if you’re routinely towing loads that unibodies can’t handle, you’ll have wished you bought something heavier duty than the tahoe. The fuel economy on the Tahoe stinks (though it’s partially countervailed by the FoST’s thirst for premium).

          • 0 avatar
            White Shadow

            Or you can get a hot hatch and look like a pimply teenager with a sideways cap and pants hanging off your ass. Maybe even some VTEC stickers in your FiST or FoST or whatever (hey, why not?)and a fart can exhaust. Boy racer, here we come!

            Stereotypes are wonderful, aren’t they?

          • 0 avatar
            turbo_awd

            In fact, the better bang-for-the-buck utility vehicle is not a Tahoe, but a ’16 Grand Caravan or Town-and-Country. Seats 7 adults, fold the seats down, and you can fit a bunch of 4×8 sheets of plywood/drywall AND still close the gate – a quick google says a Tahoe can’t do that. As someone said to me when helping me load: my truck can’t even do that!

            Base model can be had for ~$20k (1/3 the price of a Tahoe?), has nearly 300 hp, 25 mpg, and has a towing capacity of 3600 lbs. Can probably beat a base Focus (not ST) off the line.

    • 0 avatar
      stuki

      The one thing that, above all, makes for an engaging and involving drive, is added lightness and a proper transmission. Anything else comes a very distant second. Nowadays, hatches generally do this better than most, aside from purpose built sports cars.

    • 0 avatar
      skor

      I had a Ford Probe (first Gen). Car was under powered, but handling was great, better than many rear-wheel drive cars. Fuel economy was great Car was also super versatile. With the back seat folded down I could fit a 7 foot Christmas tree into the car and, close the hatch. The hot hatch is dead because ‘reel’ enthusiasts sneer at anything not V8, most Muricans who can afford a new car are now too old/fat to get into something so low, and the fart-can, aluminum-bench-as-wing crowd made sporty hatches risible in the eyes of many motorists.

      • 0 avatar
        White Shadow

        Ironically, I had a Mazda MX-6 LS, V6 w/the 5-speed manual. Total sister car to the Probe, but with a trunk instead of a hatch. Great car overall and just enough power to be considered fun.

        BTW, the hot hatches aren’t dead. Look around. And any decline really has nothing to do with anyone sneering at anything without a V8. Case in point: Think about all the turbo Japanese sports cars of the late 80s and early 90s. You know, the RX7, Supra, MR2, 300Z (okay, that one is still around, but without the turbo), 3000 GT, Eclipse, etc. Where did they all go? Do you think they disappeared because of the V8 engine? Hardly. Same for hot hatches.

        And if anything, the V8 engine itself can probably be considered an endangered species at this point. Sure, you can still find them in modern day muscle cars and trucks, but as each year goes by, there are fewer and fewer V8 engines added to our roads. Hell, how long before the majority of Ford trucks are sold with ecoboost turbo engines?

    • 0 avatar
      dividebytube

      Love my wife’s Mini Cooper S hatchback. And, to a lesser degree, love my Clubman S with barn doors. It’s the grin-inducing handling that makes these cars so much fun. They aren’t the fastest thing around in a straight line, but good enough for me. If wanted more power, I would have bought something different.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    I suppose a performance version of any car is better than a run-of-the-mill model, but I’ve never been a fan of the Focus. I have driven several and I find them as appealing as the Tempo/Topaz of the 1990s – awful in every way.

    We had a rental Focus over the weekend while on a short vacation trip in Florida, and while it was serviceable, I’d never buy one. Of course, that’s just my opinion as I’m not a Ford fan. For a rental with 32K miles, it was fairly beat up, but it was from Thrifty, so there you go.

    Perhaps others have better opinions, but not me. On previous trips to this location, I preferred the Avenger, Forte and Camry over this! At least the A/C worked well.

    • 0 avatar
      Timothy

      Regular Focus is to the ST as to the Golf is to the GTI. There are too many differences in engines, transmissions, suspension, etc to make comparisons.

      I agree, the regular Focus is in need of a major update, but the ST is polar opposite when it comes to actually driving it.

  • avatar
    thornmark

    I guess you could say this is a good sleeper because it looks like an economy car. But it looks like an economy car.

    What % Focus sales are fleet? It must be huge. Here it seems to approach triple digits – no one buys them, they get rented. Will it have any resale value? Cheap cars can be illusory if they depreciate quickly.

    • 0 avatar
      FormerFF

      Depends how long you keep it. I had a Mk 1 Focus, bought it new, drove it for 12 years. Depreciation was $1000 per year.

    • 0 avatar
      stuki

      The ST is “hot” enough that, as long as it holds up OK, it will have a market.

      Non performance models are so middle of the road, that they’ll increasingly get on a depreciation curve along the lines of the in car electronics (Carplay etc.) that seem to be the main selling point for “regular” cars these days. But that’s not really a Focus issue. but rather a “what the market wants is a 4 wheel IPhone” one.

  • avatar

    All the same attributes apply to the “little brother”, the Fiesta ST, and at a bit less money. It has one drawback, the short wheelbase makes the ride choppy on poor roads. Mine is a 2015 with about 26,000 miles so far. The 0-60 is just under 7 seconds with a top above 140 mph. Real world mileage – driven briskly – has been about 30 mpg on 93 octane. The developers for the ST models and the RS have worked hard to remove any “slop” in all the controls. Inputs on the controls result in immediate and accurate responses, making the cars a delight to drive.

  • avatar
    st1100boy

    I ordered a ’15 FoST last year, zero options. $21,500 after rebate. The car’s been rock solid, but in retrospect, I goofed up not taking two options: As fun as the F1s are, the all-seasons would’ve been a better choice in my climate as there’s just enough snow/ice/slush to make summer tires trouble, but not enough to really make winter tires worth the money. The other was not opting for satellite radio–I miss Howard Stern.

  • avatar
    paxman356

    http://www.barefootsworld.net/graphics/t-controls.jpg

    I don’t think Henry Ford intended 5 speeds.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    I still have much lust for these. No thanks on the Recaro seats, they’re thicker and reduce rear seat legroom. Unless you’re going to autocross the sucker, why bother?

    • 0 avatar
      Timothy

      It’s a love hate relationship. I’ve had my ST2 since April of 13. They are a pain in the ass to get in and out of, but once your settled in they do make for a very comfortable seat *for my body type (tall and thin)*. The seat as broken in nicely and makes for a willing partner both on spirited drives and long distance highway runs.

      Rented a Chevy Equinox yesterday, the seats were a unmitigated disaster. When I got back into the ST and sank into the seat I got to wonder how difficult can it be to design a safe, supportive, and most of all comfortable place to sit. Volvo does it, Saab did it, Audi is wonderful, GTI seats are fantastic, and if you fit, the ST Recaro’s are great. Why can’t some mfgs figure it out? Annoying as hell.

    • 0 avatar
      nileppezdel77

      I have a Fiesta ST with recaros and a Fiesta SE with regular seats. There is still legroom unless you’re tall and need to set the seat back all the way. A couple weeks ago the fiancee met me at work before we went out to a bar with some friends. On the way back, we took them with us. The first half of the trip they were in the back seat of her car. Then we picked up mine as it was on the way and they got in the back seat my car. They couldn’t tell the difference. Virtually the same legroom. I think the recaros lose a few millimeters. We filled up the base model and drove to Florida with another couple over the summer. It’s not a truck or an s class, but it has enough room. The focus is bigger, so I have to imagine it would be even easier to deal with than my cars.

    • 0 avatar
      SN123

      Recaro’s, or whatever sports/race seats, hold you in place around corners, so that you don’t have to grip the steering wheel to hold your body weight. Which then allows you to steer better during cornering G’s. If you buy a car that handles, you should care about this.

  • avatar
    davefromcalgary

    Does this car ship with an LSD?

    That would be a deal breaker for me if not.

    • 0 avatar
      Car Guy

      Not factory. Ford Performance has the Quaife limited-slip differential available. Unless you have mods that put you well into the 300HP range the car isn’t bad for FWD.

  • avatar
    TDIGuy

    Can’t get it without the Recaro seats in Canada. Swapping out the seats from a lower model isn’t possible, either.

    Anyway, I understand the B&B want to read about the Ford ST models, but is this really a base model? Is this really written to appeal to people who would buy a base model anything? What rationale are we using here? The Mazda 3 in an earlier article comes in a lower model than the one reviewed and so does the Focus.

  • avatar
    AK

    I own a 2015completely base Focus ST.

    Ford is currently buying it back due to it spending 58 days at the dealership for a still unresolved cold start misfire issue.

    To hell with this car.

  • avatar
    Mullholland

    Does anyone have information regarding the availability of the Fiesta ST for the 2017 model year?

    • 0 avatar
      AK

      2017 Fiesta production schedule

      09/02/2016 – 2016MY Fleet Final Order Due Date
      09/15/2016 – 2016MY Last Day to Spec Change
      11/25/2016 – 2016MY Job Last Date
      09/19/2016 – 2017MY Order Bank Open Date
      10/13/2016 – 2017MY Scheduling Begins
      11/28/2016 – 2017MY Job #1 Date

    • 0 avatar
      nileppezdel77

      Out of curiosity, why? It’s unchanged from the 2016, afaik.

  • avatar

    “The only transmission available is a six-speed manual, the way nature and Henry Ford intended. ”

    Just to be pedantic, Henry would have preferred a planetary two-speed. That’s what the Model T had. Don’t ask me to explain how it works. The first sliding gear transmission Ford made was the 3 speed in the Model A.

    http://www.modeltcentral.com/transmission_animation.html

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    “Ace of Base: BMW M3”

    “Ace of Base: 911 GT3”

    “Ace of Base: McLaren P1”

    We have to draw the line somewhere

    • 0 avatar
      Quentin

      Agreed. Even if the regular Fiesta didn’t exist, I’d have a hard time calling a sporty car “ace of base”. It isn’t like Ford ever considered offering a hubcap equipped version.

  • avatar
    AoLetsGo

    I will toot my own horn here. I have this color hatch in SE Sport with a 5 speed manual, not the ST. I tinted the windows, put a narrow black stripe on the side and a hidden hitch. It’s unbelievable the number of complements I get on this car, and while of course it is not a sports car it is sporty and fun to drive.
    One example is I recently parked next to a nice, old BMW 2002 and when I came out of the store the owner was walking around my car and then went to get into his car. I said “hey nice car” and in a German accent he said he was about to say the same thing.
    It does not impress the speed crowd but I got a trade in on my well used SUV, a ton of rebates, wrote a $2k check and cash deal baby!

  • avatar
    westonstarauto

    the St3 has the 5 cylinder volvo engine. It is not for sale outside Europe? It lacks the turbo so less to go wrong.


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