CHARACTER has always played a big part in the appeal of the Ford Focus ST.

The subtlety of the power delivery, the addictive sound from the 2.3-litre turbocharged petrol engine, the sporty design and the smoothness of its sparkling performance make it one of the most endearing of cars.

This latest incarnation is 12 per cent more powerful, and in turn 12 per cent faster than the previous generation, sprinting from 0 to 62mph in 5.7 seconds – 0.8 seconds quicker.

These days the ballpark power figure for the leaders of the hot hatch pack is a whopping 300PS. The Focus ST’s EcoBoost engine may fall some 20PS short of this but it lays down the torque with supreme ability through its electronically controlled limited-slip differential, a first for Ford in a front-wheel drive car.

Twin-scroll turbocharging technology that provides immediate response to throttle inputs, and an innovative anti-lag system enables rapid delivery of boost on demand.

It will even go toe-to-toe with the more brutal Focus RS over a quarter-mile sprint.

The optional Performance Pack lets drivers know the optimal point to change gears, and Launch Control can be engaged to maximise grip off the line for consistently fast standing starts.

Armed with the slickest of six-speed gearboxes, the five-door Focus ST also features continuously controlled damping technology that monitors suspension, body, steering and braking inputs every two milliseconds to adjust damping responses for optimised ride quality and driving dynamics. The system features three pre-set levels of damping to support the Focus ST’s selectable drive modes; one for slippery/wet and normal modes; one for sport mode and another for track mode.

Available as a hatchback or estate, with seven-speed automatic transmission and 190PS diesel variants, the Focus ST also delivers greater stopping power thanks to 330mm front discs and front callipers each housing two 44mm diameter pistons.

Settle in to those snug Recaro sports seats and you immediately get the feeling that you are behind the wheel of something special.

But it remains a stylish, comfortable and practical family car with the added element of being a hoot to drive.

Ford describes the character of the car as being like the twin personalities of Jekyll and Hyde, switching from refined tourer to a focused performance car at the touch of a button. It is as effortless to drive day-to-day as the rest of the Focus line-up, but the technologies employed here bring exhilarating ST performance without sacrifice.

The traditional Focus ST gauge cluster is inspired by the Ford GT supercar. Digital turbocharger boost pressure, oil pressure and oil temperature gauges are now displayed in a bespoke screen on the 4.2-inch, TFT colour instrument display. Launch Control for fast standing starts on track is also delivered via the Performance Pack for 2.3-litre EcoBoost models.

Developed to be as comfortable as it is fun-to-drive, the Focus ST exploits the class-leading roominess and refinement of the standard Focus range.

In addition to the sports steering wheel and Recaro seats with partial leather, the interior features an ST-embossed aluminium gear knob and scuff plates, alloy pedals and centre console soft side pads.

The Focus ST builds on the premium, sporting Focus silhouette with subtle, functional styling changes and unique alloy wheel designs. The Performance Pack also adds red brake callipers.

Driver assistance technologies include adaptive cruise control with speed sign recognition, adaptive front lighting, Ford’s first head-up display to be offered in Europe and evasive steering assist that helps drivers steer around stopped or slower vehicles to help avoid collisions

Ford’s SYNC 3 connectivity system allows drivers to control audio, navigation and climate functions plus connected smartphones using voice commands supported by an eight-inch colour touchscreen.

Prices for the Focus ST start at £30,575 for the diesel model and £31,975 for the estate, while EcoBoost petrol prices start at £33,260.


Ford Focus ST 2.3 EcoBoost

Price: £33,260

Engine: Four-cylinder 2.3-litre turbocharged petrol producing 280PS

Transmission: Six-speed manual

Performance: 0 to 62mph in 5.7 seconds; top speed 155mph

Economy: 34.4mpg combined

CO2 emissions: 179g/km


Performance: *****

Economy: ***

Ride/Handling: *****

Space/Practicality: ****

Equipment: ****

Security/Safety: ****

Value For Money: ****