At a glance: Ford Focus ST

At a glance: Ford Focus ST
At a glance: Ford Focus ST

Being the sweetest-handling car in its class is a pretty impressive claim for a hot hatch, but that’s exactly what the Ford Focus ST can boast. Complete with sports-focused suspension and steering, and either 247bhp 2.0-litre petrol turbo or 182bhp 2.0 diesel engines, it’s a fabulous performance family car that’s fun and easy to live everyday.

It’s priced competitively, and is very good value in lower trims, and it comes in both five-door hatchback and estate form, both with Recaro front seats. There are others among its Volkswagen Golf GTI, Seat Leon Cupra and Skoda Octavia vRS rivals that have better traction, space and practicality, but the Ford is still one of the most enjoyable hot hatch all-rounders.

DRIVING

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Performance
• Petrol will do 0-62mph in 6.5sec; diesel 8.1sec
• Diesel has serious mid-range pull from as little as 1500rpm
• Precise six-speed gearshift in both models

Comfort
• One of the better hot hatches for ride
• Comfortable and controlled for this level of performance

Handling
• Corners with zeal, body kept in check, huge mid-corner grip
• Steering can weight up slowly and self-centres too keenly
• Front wheels spin very easily, even in dry conditions

Refinement
• Petrol engine is quiet, and sounds encouragingly rorty under load
• Diesel is a bit clattery when accelerating
• Wind and road noise noticeable but not intrusive

CABIN

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Driving position
• Heavily bolstered Recaro sports seats
• Great lower-back, shoulder and side support
• Good seat and wheel adjustability; well positioned pedals,

Infotainment
• Base ST-1 gets smaller 4.2-inch display and fussier layout
• ST-2 and ST-3 get 8-inch touchscreen and more minimalist dash
• Touchscreen less intuitive to use than simpler German set-ups

Build quality
• Everything feels solidly put together
• Switchgear mainly well damped
• Still falls short of German rivals’ though

SPACE AND PRACTICALITY

• Less spacious than VW Golf GTi or Skoda Octavia VRS’s
• Chunky Recaro seats eat into legroom a little
• Headroom less generous than in key rivals
• Rear seats comfortable for two adults
• Estate is the better bet than saloon for practicality
• Wide and usefully square space
• Still a bit pokey compared with certain rivals’

BUYING AND OWNING

Running costs
• Fair discounts are available and PCP deals are competitive
• Acceptable predicted residuals
• Diesel emissions and economy compare well with Octavia vRS’s

Equipment
• ST-2 trim has best blend of kit and price
• Includes 8.0in touchscreen, part-leather trim, heated screen, auto lights and wipers, LEDs and climate control
• High-spec ST-3 gets more equipment but is expensive
• Will chew through front tyres quite quickly, so budget accordingly

Instant verdict: The easy-to-live-with Focus ST is still one of the most enjoyable hot hatch all-rounders. Stick to lower trims, and it’s very competitive for buying and running costs, too.

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