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Ford Focus ST review - the most practical hot hatch on sale?
The Fast Ford formula is alive and well in the Focus ST: everyday usability meets serious performance at an affordable price. Replacing the notoriously thirsty five-cylinder 2.5-litre turbo motor of its predecessor with a smaller 2.0-litre, four-cylinder EcoBoost engine hasn’t just improved economy and emissions but given performance a useful shot in the arm as well. And in this facelifted car, those strengths still remain.
It finds full expression in a supple, sporty chassis that strikes a canny balance between handling acuity and ride comfort. It may not be as fast and entertaining as Renault’s hardcore RS Meganes but, with 247bhp and a top speed of 154mph, it has more than enough going for it to take the fight to the Volkswagen Golf GTI and Vauxhall Astra VXR. The much improved cabin is a still far from the best but, overall, the Focus ST delivers where it matters.
Don’t overlook the charms of the ST estate. It offers a whopping extra 400 litres of bootspace with the seats folded down (that 1502 litres in total) and weighs only 24kg more than the hatchback. It measures nearly 200mm longer, but its wheelbase is identical to the five-door, as is its performance: the 6.5sec dash to 62mph and 154mph top speed are unchanged.
It's also worth noting that the Ford Focus RS is now on sale. With a starting price of £30,000, it's definitely a step up over the ST in terms of cost, but then the performance on offer is also significantly more. The RS puts out 345bhp and is four-wheel-drive, but retains nearly all the practicality of the ST. If you can afford it, it might just be the fast Focus to go for.
‘Ford has pulled off something of a masterstroke with its latest Focus ST. There are faster, sharper-handling rivals. Others, perhaps most notably the Golf GTI, have a high quality look and feel that eludes the Ford. But it’s the way the ST manages the fundamentals – performance, entertainment, everyday practicality and price – that makes it such an appealing proposition.’ David Vivian, Contributing Road Tester, evo
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> Engine and gearbox - The new 2-litre turbocharged engine develops 247bhp at 5500rpm. That’s complemented by a healthy 265lb ft of torque at just 2000rpm. Read more about the Focus ST's engine and gearbox here.
> Ride and handling - The facelifted Focus car gets electric power-steering to sharpen its responses. For an electric system it really stands out, delivering superb feedback. Read more about the Focus ST's ride and handling here.
> MPG and running costs - Expect 25mpg in the real world, not Ford’s official combined fuel economy figure of 39mpg. Read more about the Focus ST's MPG and running costs here.
> Prices, specs and rivals - The ST starts from just £22,745 for the entry-level ST-1 with the diesel engine, rising to £27,650 for the trim-laden ST-3 in Estate form. There is a host of rivals in this competitive segment, but closest is probably the Volkswagen Golf in GTI and GTD trim. Read more about the Focus ST's costs here.
> Interior and tech - The interior is brazenly sporting, with Recaro seats and carbonfibre trim. Ford offers a Driver Assistance pack that adds collision avoidance and lane keep assist. Read more about the Focus ST's interior here.