Review

Ford Focus ST hatchback

Price  £22,195 - £25,995

Ford Focus ST hatchback

reviewed by Carbuyer

Pros
  • Just as practical as standard car
  • Great value for money
  • Comfortable yet fast
Cons
  • Subtle styling
  • No three-door version
  • Not the fastest hot hatchback

At a glance

The greenest
ST-3 2.0 TDCi 185PS 5dr £25,995
The cheapest
ST 2.0 EcoBoost 250PS 5dr £22,195
The fastest
ST-3 2.0 EcoBoost 250PS 5dr £25,995
Top of the range
ST-3 2.0 EcoBoost 250PS 5dr £25,995

"The Ford Focus ST strikes a fantastic balance between comfort and outright performance."

The Ford Focus ST is the fastest version of Ford's small family hatchback. It's a hot hatchback that combines a practical body shape with a powerful engine and a chassis that makes it lots of fun to drive.

While insurance and fuel costs will be a bit higher than for a regular Focus, the ST's humble origins mean it's relatively cheap to maintain and easy to live with day-to-day.

As well as the 247bhp petrol engine, there's a diesel version available. That puts the ST in competition with a different set of rivals, such as the Volkswagen Golf GTD and SEAT Leon FR TDI. Here, the emphasis is on fuel economy rather than outright speed, but there's still enough performance to put a smile on your face.

The petrol-engined Focus ST takes on more traditional hot hatches such as the beautifully built Volkswagen Golf GTI and the Renault Megane Renaultsport.

The Focus ST sports Ford's big chrome grille and there are sleek headlights on the outside, plus Recaro sports seats, extra dials and sporty trim on the inside.

It's been on sale for a few years, but the Focus ST is still a very rewarding car to drive – one of the best hot hatchbacks, in fact.

It's based on the standard Ford Focus (which is among the best cars to drive in the small family hatchback class anyway), but gets a powerful turbocharged engine that means it's capable of more than 150mph. The ST also boasts more powerful brakes than more basic models, as well as stiffer suspension, so it stops and corners quicker than the regular Focus can.

Unlike a sports car, which offers performance at the expense of practicality, the Focus’ five-door body makes it a very useable family car. While Ford doesn’t build the ST as a sporty three-door model, buyers who need a bigger boot can choose the Ford Focus ST estate.

A harsh ride resulting from the stiffer suspension – as well as higher running costs – are the main downsides of choosing the ST over any other Focus. Even so, it's still a car you can use every day without too much trouble.

That's particularly true of the diesel. Although it's a little slower than the petrol-powered model, you’d be hard-pressed to notice this in the real world. That, coupled with far better fuel consumption and lower road tax, means it's our pick of the engine range.

The fast Ford is available in three trim levels: ST1, ST2 and ST3. The basic ST1 comes with 18-inch alloy wheels, a racy bodykit, DAB digital radio, Ford's SYNC infotainment system with voice control, Recaro sports seats and sports suspension. One of the biggest selling points of the basic ST is its great-value price – it undercuts both the VW Golf GTI and Renaultsport Megane by several thousand pounds.

Spend a little more, and electrically operated leather seats, a colour touchscreen and dual-zone climate control are all available. We’d recommend the Ford Focus ST-2 model, as it strikes the best balance between price and standard equipment.

MPG, running costs & CO2

3.8 / 5

It costs more than a standard model to buy, but the Ford Focus ST shouldn’t break the bank for running costs - particularly if you choose the diesel

Engines, drive & performance

5 / 5

The Ford Focus ST sounds good and goes great, irrespective of whether you choose the petrol or diesel model

Interior & comfort

2.8 / 5

The Ford Focus ST doesn’t ask you to compromise too much on comfort or refinement in the name of performance

Practicality & boot space

2.5 / 5

The Ford Focus ST hatchback has a boot that’s a lot smaller than its rivals’

Reliability & safety

4.2 / 5

Not as a reliable as a Volkswagen Golf GTI, but the Ford Focus ST has been closing the gap when it comes to the perception of quality

What the others say

4.5 / 5
based on 2 reviews
5 / 5
"The old Focus ST was certainly a tough act to follow, but Ford's engineers have done a great job with the new car. The torque vectoring, variable ratio steering and turbocharged 2.0-litre engine all play their part in making the newcomer a seriously capable all-rounder."
4 / 5
It's a little out-gunned in a category where tyre-smoking horsepower and 0-60mph times dominate, but its beautiful ride and handling, low price, and real-world usability mean we find it difficult to do anything other than heartily recommend it. 
What owners say 
4.2
4.2 /5 based on 5 reviews
80%
 people would recommend this car to a friend

Owner rating:

4 star   0
3 star   0
2 star   0

Common problems:

Last updated 
27 Jan 2015

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