By KBB.com Editors
For decades, American driving enthusiasts have grouched that the Europeans really did get all the good stuff. Then Ford shipped the Focus ST 5-door hatchback across the Atlantic, had the gumption to leave it alone, and the grouching is over. This IS the good stuff. All the usual cliches about what it means to have a finely-chiseled, European-style performance driving experience apply, and those who have been waiting for this level of response and refinement should beat a path to the local Ford dealer. It looks great, drives even better and, to top it all off, it's roomy, fuel-efficient and affordable. Being able to compete with such pocket rockets as the Mazdaspeed3 and Volkswagen GTI, the 2014 Focus ST is, assuredly, the good stuff.
If you've looked with envy at those fortunate European enthusiasts who could experience the crisp handling of a responsive chassis and the exhilarating performance of a strong yet relatively small-displacement engine, the Focus ST means your wait is over. It's also an efficient family car – but we won't tell.
Admittedly, the 2014 Focus ST is not for everyone. A relatively small turbocharged engine won't deliver the low-speed torque of a V8 or V6, its smallish size and its characteristics may not be welcome or advantageous on slogging commutes or Interstate cruises. It's for the curvy road less traveled.
As the Ford Focus ST was all-new for 2013 the changes for 2014 are minor. There's a Rado Gray Alloy Wheel Package that includes darker argent wheels and red brake calipers, and optional "Focus ST Racing Stripes" to adorn things from front to back.
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 a more precise feel, whatever the conditions. Of course, a performance car isn't really a performance car without quick acceleration, so ST engineers gave the 2.0-liter EcoBoost 4-cylinder engine the ability to go into "over-boost" mode for 15 seconds of hard-on-the-gas bursts. The result is the best driving experience you'll find in this country that has a Ford blue oval.
2.0-LITER ECOBOOST ENGINE
The 4-cylinder engine in the previous-edition Ford Focus offered 140 horsepower, so you can see why we really like the new EcoBoost 4-cylinder that delivers an amazing 112 additional horsepower with a negligible drop in fuel economy. This thing rips!
SUPERBLY RESPONSIVE HANDLING
Handling that seems tuned by a laser is the reason serious enthusiasts are drawn to cars like this, and that's not only the Focus ST's strongest suit, it's the car's most important reason for being. It really has to be experienced to be appreciated, and appreciate it we do.
The "normal" Ford Focus has an attractive interior, but the Focus ST takes it upscale. Among our favorite features are the optional Recaro front seats, which allow the cushion to be both tilted and extended, enhancing thigh support. The Recaros are also terrific for holding the occupants in place when the driving enthusiasm picks up steam. In the rear is a bench seat made more comfortable with an advanced type of foam. The Focus ST also has a unique steering wheel, gearshift lever and pedals to further announce its high-performance mission, and the twin-pod instrument panel groups instruments and controls in a manner that's ergonomically logical and easy to use.Exterior
There is no mistaking the 2014 Ford Focus ST as anything but the most performance-oriented variant in the Focus line, yet to its credit it's not covered with scoops, spoilers and similar 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 an interesting and stylish approach to its center-mounted twin exhaust tips.
The Focus ST has everything one needs for the adrenaline-rushing business of high-performance motoring, including the wonderful 252-horsepower EcoBoost turbocharged engine, a slick-shifting 6-speed manual gearbox, impeccably-tuned suspension and steering, plus distinctive interior and exterior treatments – everything about the Focus ST very tastefully, yet unquestionably, announces that this car is for serious driving enjoyment.
Recaro seats lead the option list, although we'd consider them a must-have in the ST. New options for 2014 include the Rado Gray Alloy Wheel Package, which includes 18" aluminum-alloys in a darker argent tone and red brake calipers, and the Focus ST Racing Stripes, available in black only, which wrap up and over from front to back. Continuing 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 and superb performance, it also delivers a wide, flat torque curve, making for surprisingly good all-around drivability. Direct injection and a low-inertia turbocharger that is allowed to go into short bursts of "over-boost" contribute to the remarkable power output. We were also impressed with the 6-speed manual transmission, but slightly 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
The 2013 Ford Focus ST is a great-fun-to-drive 5-door no matter what the price, but when you figure it starts at just over $24,000, it becomes an eye-opening bargain among high-performance cars. Its 252 horsepower blows away all other vehicles in the compact-performance segment with the exception of the much-more-expensive Mitsubishi Evolution GSR and Subaru WRX STI. Both of those rally-inspired Japanese cars have starting MSRPs over $35,000, while a fully-loaded Focus ST will cost you less than $30,000. Because of this, we expect the Focus ST to hold its value better than the average of the class. In the Focus ST, we finally get what many of us have wanted for years: European sophistication in an affordable compact using Ford's best technology from around the world. For the serious driving enthusiast, no matter what the budget, it's a terrific choice.
By DM on Monday, July 07, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 31,500overall rating 6 of 10rating details
Pros: "gas mileage is good, constant 30mpg"
Cons: "Dependability may be a problem if i keep this car."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"Many auto trans problems. Dual clutch assembly replaced at 17,000 miles. It is now shuttering bad again at 31,500 miles. Carpet mat hold downs pulling out of carpet. Dealer says not covered??"
By Un-Focused on Sunday, June 29, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 21,000overall rating 6 of 10rating details
Cons: "Cup Holders are horrible too!"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"When I first looked in to buying this car I was truly excited. Once I owned the car for a week I was truly upset. I have had repeated transmission issues and have gone to the top to be told its "the nature of the car". While the car is sporty to drive and has great mileage, which was #1 reason for its purchase, it does lack in comfort and not a smooth ride. Most of this is my own fault. I was used to an SUV and a smoother ride. I travel the interstate everyday and its a rough ride. The shape of the seat also aggrevates my bad hip. It is a good car, but if I had known about the transmission issues, I would have never bought it. Lesson learned not to do move review first!!"
14 people out of 25 found this review helpful
By Steve on Friday, June 27, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 64,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Great mileage, fun to drive"
Cons: "Built too low to the ground"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"Bought the car because wife travels a lot for business. She loves every aspect of the car. A little small for my 300 lb. body, but still very adequate for all our needs. 64000 miles and has only been in the garage for routine maintenance. Got 49000 miles on the original tires. Great little car!"
7 people out of 10 found this review helpful
By Kate on Saturday, June 21, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 42,000overall rating 4 of 10rating details
Pros: "Good gas mileage, cute, nice mesh seats"
Cons: "Bad transmissions,"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 3
"I was thrilled when I first bought my focus. Thought it was the best car on the road because I got 35MPG even in town, and I had the convenience of the SYNC system and Sirius radio. Then about three months after buying my car brand new I began having transmission issues. No dealership or even Ford corporate would listen. But I know there is something wrong with the transmissions of the new Focuses. The transmission slips, it seems to skip gears, and it revs too high during acceleration even when Im not "gunning it" or "racing to the speed limit". I would not personally ever buy another Focus."
11 people out of 17 found this review helpful
By jay on Friday, June 20, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 35,100overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Stylish/Fun to drive. Great price."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Love this car. My son & I fight over driving it. Now buying one just for me. This car handles and drives very nice with very good acceleration. It gets better than advertised gas mileage. Get around 39mpg highway. Even when I drive it up the mountain for skiing (4,000ft vertical gain) I average 36.5 mpg for the trip. It has great power for getting up the mountain. It has good tires but recommend snow tires for skiing trips/snow. Love the convenience of the sync voice activated Bluetooth. Runs very solid. My car is the 2012 focus sedan SE, I have 35,000 miles on it."
2 people out of 3 found this review helpful
By flbntz on Monday, June 16, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 267overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Price, gas milage, fun to drive, well made."
Cons: "Could use 6spd manual, farther reaching headlights"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Noticed this car when Ford began redesigning their cars in order not to have to take TARP money during the economic downturn. Thought it would be too small for me, I'd gotten used to more mid-sized cars, so, never drove one. Drove one, liked it. got one. Great deal. Getting 39mpg going back and forth to work 15 miles one way, on back roads, curvy, hilly. Manual shifter. Up shift when lighted arrow tells me to. Hit 5th gear by 35mph. Could use a sixth gear on highway. Also, headlights don't reach out real far, low, or high beams. But the price, and styling, gas milage, and other features make this car enjoyable to drive, and own. I got $2,500 off in Ford rebates, dealer knocked $795 off as sale price, Ford knocked $490 off sticker, "Synch and sound discount", dealer overvalued my trade by $1,000, and I'll get $2,200 back from unused extended warrantee, and GAP protection on my trade. Great stereo. The business of the center console I saw from outside the vehicle is not the same as what I experience inside the cabin, and driving it. Similarly the dash. I had a 2013 Fusion S, which I liked, and then a Kia Sportage LX FWD in between. This car surprises me. It is a small car, but one of my favorite cars of all time was a 1996 Honda Civic DX Coupe 5spd manual that I put 273,000 miles on before trading it on a 2004 Chevy Impala."
7 people out of 11 found this review helpful