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Ford Focus ST Track Pack 2023 review

A suite of upgrades sharpen the Ford Focus ST's already-capable formula, but it still lacks the outright engagement of some rivals

Evo rating
Price
from £36,950
  • Sharpened dynamics, encourages a spirited drive
  • Hypersensitive steering, firm for everyday use

You can now order a Track Pack for the recently facelifted Focus ST, a car that up until now has never quite equalled the sum of its parts, despite on paper looking like it has all the minerals to replicate the winning recipe of its smaller Fiesta-based relation. 

First, though, a spoiler alert: much of what constitutes the Track Pack was already available on 2021’s Focus ‘ST Edition’, including the manually adjustable KW coilovers, lighter wheels and cosmetic enhancements. We liked that car – more than we did the regular ST – but it didn’t suddenly transform the ST into a Civic Type R beater…

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> Honda Civic Type R v Volkswagen Golf R v Hyundai i30 N v Audi RS3

Nevertheless, not only does the Track Pack have the advantage of being applied to the revised ST, which benefits from such worthwhile additions as the very comfortable new Ford Performance seats and the giant 13.2-inch landscape touchscreen, but it also adds more elements than the old ST Edition package. There are now big Brembo brakes on the front axle, with four-pot calipers gripping 363mm discs (up from 330mm as standard) and a bespoke Pirelli P Zero Corsa tyre. Add these to the KWs, with their 12-click bump and 16-click rebound adjustment, the 10 percent lighter 19-inch wheels and the ST’s forever-boisterous 2.3-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine and electronically controlled LSD, and suddenly the Track Pack looks like being a potent, driver-focused hot hatch. Is this the ST we’ve been waiting for?

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The Track Pack ST certainly projects a suitably serious level of intent. Much like the ST Edition, there is gloss black on the rear wing, diffuser, winglets in the front bumper, the roof and mirror caps, all complemented by black wheels and red calipers. It sits nearer the ground, too: some 10mm as delivered from the factory, but you can adjust that by a further 15mm if you see fit. 

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With its lower ride height and 50 percent stiffer spring rates it’s no surprise that the Track Pack seems a lot firmer riding than the standard car. In fact, the initial impression is of a car that’s quickly going to become wearing in everyday use, feeling particularly stiff-limbed over our unremittingly poor UK road surfaces. However, once you’re above 30mph the ride smooths out considerably, and at motorway speeds it’s a surprisingly comfortable way to cover miles. 

The real positive of the suspension changes is that the ST now feels much more connected to the road, more eager to turn into a corner and more adjustable once you’re partway through the curve; here is a Focus that encourages you to drive with flair. 

Unfortunately, what hasn’t changed are the two key flaws that have always blighted this ST: the engine’s characteristics and the steering. Taking the EcoBoost motor first, it’s certainly not short on urge, as its 276bhp, 310lb ft and the 0-62mph time of 5.7 seconds that it delivers all attest. But the calibration feels all wrong for a hot hatch, the bias very much towards torque; there seems little point in revving much past 5000rpm, and the sudden rush of boost at low revs is difficult to modulate. Combine this with hypersensitive quick-rack steering, at just two turns lock-to-lock, and you end up with a nervous, pointy sort of car – one that’s hard to string a series of corners together in, and that appears to torque-steer more than it actually does, particular in inclement conditions. The new brakes certainly slow the ST down with some determination, but the pedal is frustratingly light underfoot. 

All-in, there’s plenty to like about the ST Track Pack, and I suspect it would be very effective on a circuit. But at just £50 short of £40,000, it looks expensive beside the £35,410 Hyundai i30 N, which is a much more convincing take on the enthusiast-aimed, manual-gearbox hot hatch recipe. 

Ford Focus ST Track Pack specs

EngineIn-line 4-cyl, 2261cc, turbocharged
Power276bhp @ 5500rpm
Torque310lb ft @ 3000-4000rpm
Weight1433kg (196bhp/ton)
0-62mph5.7sec
Top speed155mph
Basic price£36,950
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