Ford Focus ST (2015) review: Absolutely mental styling, engine, handling
Many reasons to buy the Focus ST, one reason why you shouldn't
- Gutteral, intoxicating engine note
- Outrageous styling
- Well equipped
- Auto drivers will have to learn manual
- Stiff ride
Price$ 38,990.00 (AUD)
The ST has come a long way from the modest gene pool of Ford’s Focus. Its lines are sharper and more masculine, its bonnet bulges and the hexagonal grille of its front makes it look as though it is grinding its teeth.
Bold styling swears it has some performance pedigree, with a spoiler that extends well over its boot, large 18-inch alloys and two hexagonal tailpipes. Then there’s the ST badging, which is in a colour coined by Ford as ‘Blood Red’.
The interior is in keeping with this bravado. The Recaro seats take inspiration from a racing car set-up, as do the dashboard's instrument gauges and the high-mounted the gear stick. The resulting sensation is that the driver’s seat feels more like a cockpit.
Some parts of the interior are raw. The lining of the centre console isn’t fixed and lifting it up reveals unrefined metal. And when long feet exceed the length of the accelerator pedal, they can feel the rack of the steering column rotate as the car turns. These traits would be red flags in a luxury car, but the ST won’t apologise for such lapses: its styling forewarns performance comes first.
No matter, spending a day inside the Focus ST is a pleasant experience, especially for those seated behind the wheel. There’s a 9-speaker Sony sound system and the infotainment system is managed from an 8-inch touchscreen. Driver’s seldom have to take their eyes from the road with an exemplary trip computer, located in the instrument panel, which feeds information that is both relevant and contextual.
Representatives at Ford proudly promote Sync2, which is the personal assistant featured in select models. Fixed voice commands ensure it accurately recognises prompts — most of the time.
Ride quality remains less refined. This is a stiff car programmed to stick to the road, and those that are slightly worn cause it to waddle as it dips into potholes and rides the bumps. Forgiving this transgression is easy because expecting the ST to be comfortable is like buying sport shoes to wear when you’re sitting down.
More than anything, this car is about laughter: laughter in idle, laughter in the bends and laughter on the straights.
Beneath the bonnet is a 2-litre, 4-cylinder engine that is turbocharged to deliver 184kW to the front wheels. This is enough to get the ST from 0-100 in 6.5 seconds, though the statistic fails to articulate how this car builds up to speed.
It starts with the car sitting stationary at the lights, the engine's burble warns it is no ordinary hatchback. Hands begin to dampen the perforated leather on the steering wheel. The light turns green.
Tap the throttle and it gives off a warm note. ‘Sporty’ hatchbacks are often characterised by a pitch higher in tune. Hearing one driving down the road is all it takes to know a four-cylinder is coming.
The ST differs. Its engine note is so deep and guttural that it fools you into thinking it has twice as many cylinders. Quieting it requires a high gear, such as fifth or six, which will also serve the purpose of economy.
Bury the pedal and the front wheels struggle to put down the power. Torque steer — a common occurrence in low gears — causes the steering wheel to flail left and right.
This car needs to be handled, grabbed by the scruff of its neck and commandeered into a straight line. Wasting power at the wheels is not the quickest means of going fast, but the barely-tamed attitude does pay off by involving the driver.
There’s a mechanical purity to this car. Only a manual transmission is offered; the clutch is heavy, the gear shift is smooth and engaging a gear is punctuated by a metallic ‘click’. It barks during down gears, not with some inorganic petrol afterburn, but with the audible sound of the engine wasting revs greater than 3000rpm.
Cornering remains a hallmark of the ST brand. Darty steering allows it to hit the apex of a corner and its propensity to grip will see a tight line through. Upgrades have not taxed the car’s playful personality. The brakes are applied to select wheels — as part of the car’s torque vectoring control — in an effort to rein the car in. Other changes reaping rewards include the optimised electric power steering and upgrades made to the car’s suspension.
So much of the ST focuses on the purity of a sports car. It nails it in every aspect, besides the shape, which is a pivotal part of a sports car’s identity. This is a hatchback suited for the family, and yet it only comes in manual and has a rough ride.
Pricing is from $38,990, and that’s little more than the $37,150 Subaru BRZ, which is a car that looks nothing like Ford’s hatchback ST.
Join the PC World newsletter!
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Google Pixel XL full, in-depth smartphone review: Phones just got smarter
- 2 Sony Xperia XZ review: turbo-charged last-gen phone
- 3 Hisense Series 7 ULED 4K UHD TV review
- 4 Sony X9300D and X8500D UHD 4K TV review
- 5 Moto X Force review: Leading features from a mid-range phone
Latest News Articles
- Tesla ratchets up fully autonomous cars; watchdog group wants tighter safety regs
- Tesla cars to have full self-driving gear, but feature disabled for now
- Ford engineer called MyFord Touch infotainment system 'a polished turd'
- PAL-V opens the first flying car school in North America
- Paris motor show turns on to electric cars
GGG Evaluation Team
First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.
For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.
The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.
The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.
My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.
- Google Pixel XL full, in-depth smartphone review: The new best Android phone
- Japan Robot, gadget and car expo slideshow
- Panasonic DX900U UHD 4K smart TV review: Best all-round TV ever?
- What's the difference between an Intel Core i3, i5 and i7?
- Laser vs. inkjet printers: which is better?
- FTOperational Integrity ManagerNSW
- CCContract IT Assistant (UNIX/Windows) 161028/ITA/003Asia
- CCICT Project Reporting Planning CoordinatorNSW
- FTIntegration SpecialistSA
- CCManager of Pricing and AnalyticsVIC
- FTIntegration Solutions ArchitectNSW
- FTScrum MasterNSW
- CCSenior Business Analyst - experience in IDAM a MUSTNSW
- CCSitecore DeveloperNSW
- CCSystem & Network EngineerVIC
- FTNetwork and Security Engineer - Checkpoint, Firewalls, VPNNSW
- FTSOE ConsultantACT
- CCApplication Support DeveloperVIC
- FTEnterprise ArchitectNSW
- CCSenior Project Specialist - SchedulingVIC
- CCChange Manager - Telco projectsNSW
- CCSenior Solution Designer, Wealth ManagementNSW
- CCService Desk ConsultantTAS
- CCIT Manager - ANZNSW
- CCContract Management SpecialistNSW
- CCSenior Project Manager (Marketing Automation)NSW
- CCCloud Security Services SpecialistVIC
- CCTest Lead with HP ALMACT
- CCSAP Finance Business AnalystNSW
- CCIT Data AnalystACT