"The Ford Focus ST strikes a fantastic balance between comfort and outright performance."
The all-new Ford Focus ST is a performance-oriented version of the Focus, but is built with an eye on everyday usability as well. As a result it's not only blisteringly quick in a straight line but it's also comfortable and refined too. The suspension strikes a great balance between ensuring sharp handling and softly sprung comfort, while the engine sounds quiet below 3500rpm. Unlike the old Focus ST, the current model is only available as a five-door and it now comes as an estate model too, which means it's more of a family car than ever before.. It also starts at a price-tag that greatly undercuts its main rivals.
The new Ford Focus ST is designed as a performance version of the Focus that is usable as an everyday car. It's powered by a 2.0-litre turbocharged engine, which produces 247bhp and can launch the ST from 0-62mph in 6.5 seconds. The handling is very sharp and precise – probably the best in class – and the car feels incredibly quick. There's also a great noise from the engine above 3500rpm , but thankfully if you keep the revs below that then it's silent and relaxing.
Generally with performance hatchbacks like the Renaultsport Megane 265 and Astra VXR the ride is firm and the engine is noisy, which means they’re not particularly comfortable or relaxing to drive. The suspension is noticeably firmer than a standard Focus but it doesn’t struggle to soak up bumps in the road, making the ST a great long-distance car.
Ford has already managed to prove that the standard Focus is a reliable car, with very few problems reported by the many customers that have bought examples of the newest generation Focus. With that in mind, the ST should also prove to be very reliable, even though this engine is new to the Focus range. Nevertheless, this 2.0-litre unit is already used in the Mondeo line-up and has proved trouble-free there too. The standard Focus scored a full five-stars in the Euro NCAP crash safety tests too.
The Focus ST is a very practical car with just as much boot space as the standard car. With a space-saver wheel you get 316 litres of room and you can expand this to 1,101 litres by folding the rear seats down. Ford does also offer an estate version of the ST if you’re after even more room.
Value for money
The pricing of the Focus ST far undercuts rivals like the Golf GTI, although the entry-level models aren’t as well-equipped. Basic ‘ST’ models come with 18-inch wheels, Recaro seats and keyless-go. ‘ST-2’ models add half-leather seats and automatic headlights while the range-topping ‘ST-3’ cars get LED running lights, full leather trim and bi-xenon headlights.
With an eye on performance, the Focus ST won’t be the cheapest car to run but it is 20 per cent more efficient than the car it replaces. That amount to figures of 39.2mpg – though we experienced more like 29mpg – and CO2 emissions of 169g/km.