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2014 Ford Focus ST KBB Expert Review

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MSRP $24,910

Fair Purchase Price N/A

Invoice $23,281

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Consumer Rating 7.3 / 10
10/7.3

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KBB Expert Review

KBB Editors' Overview

By KBB.com Editors - Updated Date: 5/31/2013


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.

You'll Like This Car If...

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.

You May Not Like This Car If...

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.

What's New for 2014

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 It 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.

Favorite Features

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.

Vehicle Details Interior  Dashboard, center console, gear shifter view photo

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   photo

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.

Notable Standard Equipment

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.

Notable Optional Equipment

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.

Under the Hood

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

Pricing Notes

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.

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