2018 Ford Focus ST

2018 Ford Focus ST Review

It's not the newest or coolest, but the Ford Focus ST can still put a giant grin on your face.
7.7 / 10
Edmunds overall rating
author
by James Riswick
Edmunds Editor

Edmunds expert review

There's something to be said for power and charisma. The 2018 Ford Focus ST may be just as old as the regular Focus, sharing most of the same elements that have made that car lose much of its appeal as newer competitors came along. It's certainly not the newest and hottest thing around anymore. Yet the Focus ST remains just as much fun as ever, delivering exactly the same mix of performance, practicality and pizzazz that first drew us to it five years ago. It's a cool car and always will be.

First and foremost, its 252-horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder engine continues to be a hoot, thrusting you into the ST's Recaro sport seats to the tune of a deep warble. All that power goes through the front wheels only, making it a bit unruly at times, but that's all part of the fun. We also love the six-speed manual transmission, though acknowledge that the availability of a dual-clutch automatic (such as Volkswagen's DSG transmission) would widen its audience. Then there's the ST's entertaining steering and handling. Yes, it's fun to go quickly in a straight line, but the ST has corners licked, too.

As for downsides, the ST's relate mostly to those inherent to the regular Focus' design. The rear seating is cramped, and the base tech interface is behind the times. Cabin quality also isn't as impressive as it once was and is overshadowed by the Volkswagen and Honda competition. Those grippy Recaro seats may also be too confining for drivers of above-average size.

In total, though, the 2018 Focus ST needs to be on the shopping list for anyone looking for a powerful, charismatic car with plenty of practicality at a reasonable price. It was great five years ago and it's still great today.



What's new for 2018

There are no significant changes for the 2018 Focus ST.

We recommend

There's only one 2018 Ford Focus ST version, so your decision will largely come down to if you want any of the car's optional features. Going with the ST2 or ST3 package will get you the worthwhile Sync 3 infotainment interface, although these packages also include the Recaro sport seats, which won't be to everyone's waistline.



Trim levels & features

The 2018 Ford Focus ST is a performance-oriented version of the Focus four-door hatchback. There is no sedan version. Both the regular Focus and the even hotter Focus RS are reviewed separately. Every Focus ST comes with a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine (252 hp, 270 lb-ft of torque), a six-speed manual transmission and front-wheel drive. There is no automatic variant available. There's only one trim level, though a variety of equipment packages bolster the standard feature content.

Standard equipment includes 18-inch alloy wheels, summer tires, performance brakes, an electronic limited-slip differential, hill start assist, automatic headlights, foglights, LED daytime running lights, an integrated blind-spot mirror, keyless entry and ignition, air-conditioning, cloth upholstery, front sport seats (with driver height adjustment), 60/40-split folding rear seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, MyKey parental controls, a rearview camera, a 4.2-inch central display, Bluetooth, Sync voice controls, and a six-speaker sound system with a USB port.

The ST2 package (aka the 401A Equipment Group) adds xenon headlights, a sunroof, dual-zone automatic climate control, cloth and leather upholstery, Recaro front sport seats, the Sync 3 infotainment interface with an 8-inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone app integration, and a 10-speaker Sony sound system with HD radio, a CD player, satellite radio and dual USB ports.

The ST3 package (aka the 402A Equipment Group) adds all ST2 items but also tacks on heated mirrors, a keyless entry keypad, full leather upholstery, heated front Recaro seats (with eight-way power adjustments for the driver), a heated steering wheel, a rear center armrest, multicolor ambient interior lighting, carbon-fiber interior accents and a navigation system.

Stand-alone options include dark gray 18-inch alloy wheels with red-painted brake calipers, high-performance all-season tires and the navigation system (requires the ST2 package).



Trim tested

Each vehicle typically comes in multiple versions that are fundamentally similar. The ratings in this review are based on our full test of the 2015 Ford Focus ST (turbo 2.0L inline-4 | 6-speed manual | FWD).

NOTE: Since this test was conducted, the current Focus ST is now available with Ford's latest Sync 3 infotainment system (replacing the old MyFord Touch touchscreen), which we have sampled in other Ford vehicles. Our findings remain applicable to this year's Focus ST.

Edmunds Scorecard

Overall7.7 / 10

Driving

8.5 / 10

Acceleration7.5 / 10
Braking8.0 / 10
Steering8.0 / 10
Handling10.0 / 10
Drivability8.0 / 10

Comfort

6.0 / 10

Seat comfort7.0 / 10
Ride comfort6.0 / 10
Noise & vibration5.5 / 10

Interior

7.5 / 10

Ease of use7.0 / 10
Getting in/getting out6.0 / 10
Roominess7.0 / 10
Visibility7.0 / 10
Quality7.0 / 10

Driving8.5

An all-around solid performer. Quick acceleration paired with genuinely capable handling and rewarding steering. It's getting on in age, but it's still an excellent choice in a small segment.

Acceleration7.5

Boost builds quickly in the ST, and you'll rarely catch the engine lagging. Sixty mph arrives from a standstill in 6.4 seconds. Gear spacing is good, though you'll shift twice to hit 60.

Braking8.0

A softer pedal than we'd prefer, but power and fade resistance are ample. Consistent braking runs with good stability during full-ABS panic stops. It stops in 109 feet from 60 mph.

Steering8.0

Quick, responsive and direct. Very accurate. Solid ally for countersteering, too, which you'll do a lot here if you drive hard. The ST is not a car for beginners.

Handling10.0

The ST is more fun than anything else in the class if you like flamboyant driving. Rotates off throttle, but balances back to neutral quickly and controllably with throttle application. The stability control calibration is superb.

Drivability8.0

It's very easy to drive with manageable clutch and shifter. Even novices should learn the ST's nuances quickly. Rapid, responsive and accompanied by terrific sounds. To be fair, there is no automatic option.

Comfort6.0

Some comfort compromises are obvious in the ST. Ride quality isn't as smooth as in most non-performance-oriented compacts, but it is good relative to direct rivals. Overall, a good ride-handling balance. The optional Recaro seats can be confining.

Seat comfort7.0

The optional Recaro seats are comfortable and supportive, but they will make entry and exit more challenging than it would be otherwise. The huge bolsters hold passengers securely but also consume elbow room. Larger drivers probably will find them too confining.

Ride comfort6.0

Depends on how you look at it. The Focus ST's ride is busy relative to the ride in a base Focus. Expansion joints can be jarring, but the ride is generally acceptable and even impressive given the ST's abilities.

Noise & vibration5.5

Superb intake note at wide-open throttle that's not present during normal driving. Noticeable wind noise intrusion in certain instances. Otherwise, levels of road and tire noise are livable for the segment.

Interior7.5

You won't confuse the ST's interior with that of a standard Focus. Body-colored accents, available Recaro seats, additional instrumentation and a thick-rimmed wheel set it apart. But the design is starting to look and feel dated.

Utility6.5

Hatchback usability is a plus. Good rear cargo space. The split and folding rear seats don't fold completely flat, and the thick Recaro seats compromise cargo space marginally.

Technology

Sync 3 is one of the easiest touchscreen tech interfaces to use. We like the clear touchscreen graphics, quick response times and the easily navigable menus. The Focus' base system is pretty archaic and frustrating, so getting Sync 3 is highly recommended.

Edmunds expert review process

This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.

We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.