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 william on Wednesday, July 16, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 4,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "GREAT gas mileage. Lot`s of gadgets. Super radio."
Cons: "Rides a little rough, due to larger wheels."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I`ve owned my Ford Focus Titanium hatchback for a year and a half now and I really love it. It has a sharp sporty look and it`s the first car I`ve owned, which several strangers have approached me and asked me how I liked it and told me how impressive it looks. The car started and performed well during our last seige of below zero weather, here in Michigan and it is very comfortable and elaborately outfitted in the cabin and really fun to drive and very easy to park."
By work car on Monday, July 14, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 180,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "great mpg -"
Cons: "Tire wear - Transmission"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"I drive this 2012 Focus almost 500 miles a day - Mostly interstate - Small amount of stop & go in town traffic - I average over 35 mpg. at 70-75 mph. Rain and wind does reduce average mpg though - Only real problem is the transmission in stop & go traffic - constant engage and dis-engaging in traffic - Also stays dis-engaged if you are too quick moving from brake to accelerator. Other than getting use to the way the transmission works, this has been a great little car."
2 people out of 2 found this review helpful
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??"
4 people out of 7 found this review helpful