For decades, the best choices for a so-called "hot hatch" have typically come from automakers in Japan and Europe. Now, however, there's finally a world-class hot hatchback from Detroit: the Ford Focus ST.
With the Focus ST, Ford has taken its regular, economy-biased Focus hatchback and modified it for added performance. With nearly 100 more horsepower than a regular Focus, sharper handling, better brakes and distinctive styling, the ST provides loads of motoring fun while allowing you to get the kids to school, take your friends to the game or transport relatively large cargo.
The Focus ST may be a relative newcomer to the hot hatchback segment, but it's already one of our favorites.
Current Ford Focus ST Specs
The Ford Focus ST is only available as a four-door hatchback. Under its hood is an ST-exclusive turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder that cranks out 252 hp and 270 pound-feet of torque. Power is sent to the front wheels through a six-speed manual transmission. Acceleration is impressive, yet the Focus ST is still near the top of the hot-hatch class for fuel economy.
Standard equipment highlights on the Focus ST includes 18-inch alloy wheels, a sport-tuned suspension, performance summer tires, performance brakes, keyless ignition/entry, the Sync voice-activated phone and audio interface and a six-speaker sound system. From here, there are two available packages: ST2 and ST3. The ST2 package features Recaro front sport seats, cloth and leather seating surfaces, dual-zone automatic climate control, the MyFord Touch electronics interface, an 8-inch touchscreen and a 10-speaker Sony sound system. The ST3 package further adds bi-xenon headlights, heated front seats, full leather upholstery, Recaro rear seats, ambient interior lighting and a navigation system. A sunroof is also optional.
In reviews, we've been highly impressed with the Ford Focus ST. If you want to have fun, its turbocharged engine is at the ready, as even at low rpm it provides brisk acceleration. The ST also handles quite well, feeling much more engaging around corners than the typical hatchback. At the same time, the ST can still be used as a daily driver. The shifter works smoothly and the ride quality, while firm, doesn't beat you up.
The Focus ST's performance is nicely complemented by an upscale and well-equipped interior. However, the optional Recaro seats, though impressively supportive, can cause comfort problems for some people on long-distance journeys. Some small complications also arise when using either of the two available electronics interfaces, which can be unintuitive compared to some other systems.
Overall, though, the Ford Focus ST is one of the best options available in the sporty compact car segment. Its drawbacks are quite minor compared to the amount of fun you'll have while driving. And with some features typically unavailable from competitors, the Focus ST feels like it's worth considerably more than what you'll pay.
Used Focus ST Models
The current Ford Focus ST debuted for 2013 and has seen no notable changes since.
There was a high-performance version of the first-generation Focus called the Ford Focus SVT that was produced from 2002-'04.