Full 2014 Ford Focus ST Review
What's New for 2014
The 2014 Ford Focus ST is unchanged other than newly optional gray-painted wheels (with red-painted brake calipers) and optional exterior black stripes.
With 252 horsepower going through the front wheels, the 2014 Ford Focus ST has serious chops in a straight line. And with high-performance tires, a sport-tuned suspension and strong brakes, it can easily handle the twisty roads you'll inevitably throw at it. The comfort level is high, too, with a supple ride quality and an upscale and well-trimmed interior. In short, the 2014 Ford Focus ST is everything you want from a hot hatch and almost nothing you don't.
While it isn't technically the quickest vehicle in its class, the ST, which has 270 pound-feet of torque at its disposal, certainly doesn't lack for power. In almost any gear, the turbocharged four-cylinder is lively and fun, putting smiles on faces and backs against seats. It's pretty well mannered, too. When high levels of horsepower are routed through a front-wheel-drive system, the typical result is torque steer (that feeling of the steering wheel uncontrollably tugging in your hand) during hard acceleration in a straight line. But the ST has a clever electric steering compensation feature that largely mitigates this annoying trait.
Around corners it's a treat, too. The Focus ST's thick-rimmed steering wheel and quick steering help give the car a very nimble and sporty feel. And with those wide summer-rated tires, there's plenty of grip. Driven enthusiastically on a back road, the well-balanced Focus ST hardly seems like a front-wheel-drive car.
The best part about the Focus ST, however, is that all of this comes with only minimal sacrifices in practicality. While the Mazdaspeed 3 and Subaru WRX are marginally quicker from a stop, they can't match the Focus ST for interior quality. Being inside the ST feels as if you've upgraded to a higher level of automotive class. Competitors like the Mini Cooper S and Volkswagen GTI are also commendable for their classy interiors, but they can't match the ST for thrills or performance.
When you factor in comfort, performance, style and price, the Ford Focus ST is the best overall package you can get in the hot hatch market for 2014.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2014 Ford Focus ST is a performance-oriented version of the Focus four-door hatchback. There is no sedan version.
Standard equipment includes 18-inch alloy wheels; performance summer tires; performance brakes; an electronically controlled limited-slip front differential; keyless ignition and entry; full power accessories; air-conditioning; cruise control; a leather-wrapped tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel; a 60/40-split-folding seatback; the Sync voice-activated phone and audio player interface; and a six-speaker sound system with a CD player, USB/iPod interface and an auxiliary audio jack.
The ST2 package (Equipment Group 201A) adds Recaro front sport seats, cloth/leather upholstery, dual-zone automatic climate control, the MyFord Touch electronics interface with an 8-inch touchscreen display and a 10-speaker Sony sound system with HD radio and satellite radio.
The ST3 package (Equipment Group 202A) includes the ST2's features and adds xenon headlights, heated mirrors, heated front Recaro seats, full leather upholstery, a rear armrest, an overhead interior console, ambient interior lighting and a navigation system.
Stand-alone options include a dark gray finish (with red-painted brake calipers) for the standard 18-inch wheels, a sunroof and a set of black racing stripes that run from the front of the car to the rear bumper.
Powertrains and Performance
The signature feature of the front-wheel-drive 2014 Ford Focus ST is a turbocharged 2.0-liter inline four-cylinder engine that delivers 252 hp and 270 lb-ft of torque. It's matched with a six-speed close-ratio manual transmission.
In Edmunds testing, the Ford Focus ST accelerated from zero to 60 in 6.6 seconds, a quick time for this class of car. The EPA estimates the Focus ST will achieve 23 mpg city/32 mpg highway and 26 mpg combined, which also places it near the top of the hot hatch class for fuel economy.
The 2014 Ford Focus ST comes standard with antilock disc brakes, stability control, front side airbags and side curtain airbags. The Ford Sync system also includes an emergency crash-notification feature that automatically dials 911 when paired with a compatible cell phone. Also standard are blind-spot mirrors and Ford's MyKey system, which can be used to set certain parameters for teen drivers. A rearview camera, offered on the regular Focus, isn't available on the ST.
In Edmunds testing, the Focus ST needed 112 feet to stop from 60 mph, which is an average distance for an affordable performance car with summer tires.
In government crash testing, the Focus received four out of five stars for overall crash protection, with four stars for overall frontal-impact protection and five stars for overall side-impact protection. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety awarded the Focus its highest possible rating of "Good" in the frontal-offset, side and roof-strength tests.
Interior Design and Special Features
The interior of the Focus ST shows how compact cars now blend utility with an appreciation for fine materials and leading-edge design. This cockpit is attractive and the materials are best in class. And just as you'd expect in a performance car, the driving position is excellent, and the optional Recaro front seats offered in the ST2 and ST3 have large side bolsters that keep you very secure during hard cornering. We recommend sitting in the Recaro seats before deciding if they're for you, however, as many drivers find them to be uncomfortable for long drives.
The layout of some gauges and controls is a little complicated, particularly the optional MyFord Touch system. It provides some neat customization possibilities, but in real-world operation we've found that it's prone to glitches. In addition, its virtual buttons are hard to identify at a glance, often get pressed accidentally or fail to respond properly. That said, the technologies controlled by MyFord Touch and the Sync voice command system help set the Focus ST apart from the pack.
The rear seat is slightly shorter on legroom than the accommodations of other small hatchbacks, but overall utility is excellent, with 23.8 cubic feet of space with the 60/40-split rear seats up and a generous 44.8 cubic feet with them folded down.
Just as you'd expect from a car in this category, the 2014 Ford Focus ST bristles with performance, and the sound that the turbocharged engine makes as it revs toward 6,000 rpm is thrilling. The precision of the steering and the crisp action of the six-speed manual transmission make you feel as if you're in touch with this car's mechanical soul.
Equally striking is the Focus ST's composure during harder driving. Special tuning of the electric-assist power steering, electronic differential control and stability control systems helps maintain traction without making the car feel clumsy. And if you're looking for more excitement on a back road (or planning to sign up for a track day), you can dial the stability control into a more permissive setting or switch it off altogether.
For day-to-day driving, the Focus ST is still quite livable. The suspension tuning is certainly firm, but outside of the GTI, this is the best-riding performance hatchback you'll find. It's also fairly quiet, as the engine really makes itself heard only during hard acceleration.