Buyers of compact performance cars can be a fickle lot. That might make one wonder about the prospects for the Focus ST, a car that hasn't changed much since its 2013 debut. As far as we can see, there is no reason to worry. The ST might be getting a bit long in the tooth, but it still represents the best the hot-hatch segment has to offer.
The Focus ST is based on the Focus hatchback; in deference to the whims of the market, a sedan isn't offered, and for that matter, neither is an automatic transmission. The Focus ST gets a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine turned up to 252 horsepower, which drives the front wheels through a six-speed manual gearbox. The EPA hadn't published a fuel economy estimate for the 2017 Focus ST when we posted this article; the 2016 model is rated at 25 mpg combined (22 city/30 highway), and we expect that estimate to drop slightly as the EPA has changed its testing methodology for 2017.
The engine is paired with a sport-tuned suspension with an unusual trait: It can be made to oversteer (i.e. slide from the back end) with relative ease. This is a characteristic rarely seen among front-wheel-drive performance cars, and it is one of the elements that endears the Focus ST to its fan base. The suspension also provides a smooth ride, comfortable enough that buyers can make their daily commute without regretting their purchase. "Summer" performance tires give the Focus ST a strong grip on the pavement, and big brakes and an electronic limited-slip differential round out the performance r´sumé. Zero-to-60 times are slightly behind the pack; Edmunds clocked it at 6.4 seconds, but the Focus ST incurs a penalty due to its low gearing: It requires a shift to third gear whereas most competing cars can reach 60 mph in second.
We're quite fond of the Focus ST's cabin, which is built from high-quality materials and features an easy-to-use infotainment system. But the deeply bolstered Recaro seats — designed to hold occupants in place when the Focus ST is turned up to 11 — can feel restrictive, especially to those who are, shall we say, a little broad in the beam. The backseat offers less legroom than most compact cars, though luggage space is better than other performance hatchbacks.
Ford offers the Focus ST in a single trim level (as a step up, it offers the Focus RS, with all-wheel drive and more power). The standard equipment list features lots of performance hardware; ST2 and ST3 packages add convenience and luxury features. Which variant is the best to buy? Let Edmunds help find the perfect 2017 Ford Focus ST for you.