By KBB.com Editors
Ford performance enthusiasts have traditionally bemoaned the fact that Europe gets all the sophisticated good stuff, and that was the case until Ford presented us with the 2013 Ford Focus ST. It's as European as a lean-cut suit, but a lot easier to wear, and we think it will hit a homerun with performance drivers who have always craved the intelligently modified ST versions of European Ford models but have found them impossible to purchase in the United States. Having put the Focus ST through its paces on more than 250 miles of demanding European roads, we can attest to the Focus ST's good looks, its razor-sharp handling, and its ability to perform the dual role of weekend canyon runner and weekday commuter car.
Those seeking European-style performance – precise handling and substantial power from a relatively small-displacement engine – will find the Ford Focus ST their cup of cappuccino. The bonus is the ST can function as a family car as well.
If you want traditional American power and torque from a V8 or even from a V6, then the Focus ST will not be your performance-car of choice. Its charms are more subtle and sophisticated than simply brute force.
The Ford Focus ST is all-new for the 2013 model year, and it includes a wide variety of Euro-tuning tricks that set it apart from its more pedestrian Focus brothers. With minor exceptions, it is exactly the same car European Focus ST buyers get.
Driving Impressions Ford's ST team has cleverly adapted a proven, high-volume platform to performance-car standards without sacrificing much utility or user-friendliness. That's a neat trick, but the platform seems infinitely adaptable. Drawing...on American, Asian and European resources, ST engineers supplied the picante sauce with engine, steering and suspension upgrades that go beyond mere tuning. They changed what engineers refer to as "hard points" to give the suspension better geometry and better anti-roll bar attachment points, and they made ingenious modifications to the steering rack to give the steering a more precise feel, whatever the conditions. Of course, a performance car isn't really a performance car without quick acceleration, so ST engineers decided to let the 2.0-liter EcoBoost 4-cylinder engine go into "over-boost" mode for 15 seconds of hard-on-the-gas bursts.
2.0-LITER ECOBOOST ENGINE
The 4-cylinder engine in the previous-edition Ford Focus offered 140 horsepower, so you can see why we like the new EcoBoost 4-cylinder that delivers 112 additional horsepower with a negligible drop in fuel economy.
SPORT STEERING SYSTEM
The extremely quick steering is a specially calibrated version of Ford's Electronic Power Assisted Steering system that detects and compensates for torque steer virtually before it occurs, enabling Ford to send 252 horsepower through the front (driving) wheels.
There's nothing unattractive about the stock 2013 Ford Focus interior, but, as you might expect, the ST kicks it all up a grade. The highlight is the optional Recaro front bucket seats, which offer both cushion tilt and length adjustment that provides nice support for the thighs. While they don't get the same level of comfort as those in the front seats, the rear-seat passengers do ride on a newly designed bench stuffed with special foam. To make it clear that you're motoring in a special Focus, the ST features a specially-designed steering wheel, gearshift lever and pedals. The headliner and trim on the pillars is darker than on standard Focuses, adding an edgy feeling of menace. The 2-pod dash arrangement logically groups instruments and controls, and at the same time offers an open expanse in front of the passenger.
There is no mistaking the 2013 Ford Focus ST as anything but the most performance-oriented variant in the Focus line, yet to its credit it is not covered with scoops, spoilers and all other manner of hey-look-at-me tomfoolery. Instead, the 5-door offers a well-integrated, high-mounted spoiler and mild rocker panel skirting to exhibit its performance-cred without shouting it. We're fans of the brawny 5-spoke alloy wheels and the blacked-out grille. The rear of the car is also attractive with the spoiler balanced by center-mounted twin exhaust tips.
If you buy a 2013 Focus ST you get a very well-equipped performance machine, complete with 252-horsepower engine, 6-speed manual transmission, performance-tuned suspension and steering, plus a variety of interior and exterior trim distinctions.
Recaro seats lead the option list, although we'd consider them a must-have in the ST. Other options include automatic temperature control and LED interior ambient lighting.
We are big fans of the 252-horsepower 2.0-liter EcoBoost 4-cylinder engine that is the only choice in the Focus ST. Not only does it provide impressive peak horsepower, but it also offers a wide, flat torque curve, making for good all-around drivability. Direct injection and a low-inertia turbocharger that is allowed to go into short bursts of "over-boost" is the reason. We were impressed with the 6-speed manual transmission, but we were disappointed that a paddle-shifting dual-clutch transmission is not on the option list. With a 0-60 mph time in the mid-6 seconds, the 2013 Focus ST offers serious quantities of fun-to-drive.
2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4
252 horsepower @ 5,500 rpm
270 lb-ft of torque @ 2,500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 23/32 mpg
By Harry on Tuesday, February 24, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 28,000overall rating 1 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"This car isn't a good car, no room no comfort, can't stretch your legs. Doesn't handle well NOT GOOD AT all and not worth the money"
2 people out of 8 found this review helpful
By Busy Professional on Friday, February 20, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 23,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Beautiful interior styling, great options, fun to"
Cons: "Some weird shifting, not a lot of storage"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"You will read a lot of bad reviews about this car but look at the rating here. It's a great car! It was designed by a team that went to Europe to study those cars - we met a member of the team. The styling and options are unmatched, they thought of everything! If that's not your thing, I get it, but it's mine. As for the drive, it was tough to get used to since it's basically a manual that was automated. I did have some weird shifting but the tranny fix Ford came out with (no questions asked) fixed most of it. Once in awhile it delays a bit shifting up if it was just downshifting (I.e. Coasting) but not bad at all. Overall I really do love this car!"
3 people out of 3 found this review helpful
By Phinky on Sunday, February 15, 2015
I owned and sold this car
Reason: poorly built / poor quality
Pros: "gas mileage"
Cons: "construction of vehicle is cheap and poor quality"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"The transmission does some surging and shuttering and I did not like that. It did not do that at first but seemed to get worse as time went on. Lots of plastic in the vehicle that wore with time also."
7 people out of 15 found this review helpful
By dmc on Thursday, February 12, 2015
I don't own this caroverall rating 7 of 10rating details
Pros: "comfortable to driver, reliable, fuel efficient"
Cons: "weak brakes, finicky stereo, adv trac stability"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"This car is comfortable on longer trips, seats are supportive. The audio system is ok, NOT great but in the se version is good enough. The media settings are a bit fussy at first, but are very convenient once you figure it out. If you live in a place with winters you should know it warms up fast. Has crisp handling, accelerates nicely (5 speed manual), the ride quality is pretty good, it soaks up most bumps without leaving you seeking a chiropractor. I really recommend this car."
13 people out of 26 found this review helpful
By eddy on Wednesday, February 04, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 15,000overall rating 7 of 10rating details
Pros: "Park assist is Great"
Cons: "Transmisson Shudder, Poor gas mileage"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 7
"Car is good but averages 26 to 32 MPG. NOT the 27 to 37 MPG as advertised. Also transmission had some "Shudder" when starting off. Dealer says this is normal."
18 people out of 39 found this review helpful
By Steve on Tuesday, February 03, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 60,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"Great gas mileage, I've gotten up to 450 miles on a tank. Ford's stability control team with it's traction control and ABS gives the car to handle greatly in the snow. I suggest not sticking with the stock tires however. The hatch adds style to the car, makes it look sporty. The only two downfalls are if the driver is a big person, there will be hardly any leg room in the back for another grown person. The 2nd thing is, it has average acceleration. I would like to line up next to a tC or a Golf and be able to beat them in a straight line, It is close but it's slower by about half a car length to those cars. It'll beat your standard, Civic, Corolla, Impreza, Dart, etc. Overall I do believe it is the best overall balanced compact car available on the market."
12 people out of 22 found this review helpful