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The Ford Focus ST, manufactured by Ford since 2005 to date, was the top of the range performance Focus until the truly focussed Focus RS arrived a year ago. There are a lot of similarities between the ST and RS, but this review is about the ST.
Starting with looks, it is a good looking car, with twin exhausts, flared arches reminiscent of the Mk1 Focus RS, 18" alloys (similar to the old TSW Venoms, but in a good way), rear spoiler that isn't just for looks and big 4 pot brakes up front to stop the 225 BHP hot hatch. To be truthful, the car sits a little high standard, but this is easily rectified by fitting lowering springs (Eibach are the usual option) for a couple of hundred quid - these were an option from new too, so won't affect the handling adversely, and in fact reduce body roll and the car sits much nicer.
The interior is very well specced. Dependent on the model you go for, ST1, ST2 or ST3, the spec differs. All have body hugging Recaros up front, which are awesome seats. ST1 is fairly basic, ST2 has Xenons, better stereo, I-Pod Aux etc, and ST3 has leather added and Recaro rear seats so only a 4 seater as opposed to the 5 seats in the ST1 and ST2. In fact the space, particularly in the rear, is amazing. I can fit 3 child seats comfortably, side by side in the rear!
The important thing about the car though, is how it goes - it is a hot-hatch after all. Having owned or driven virtually every hot hatch over the past 10 years, I was a bit dubious about the Focus with its heavy looking body, its big 2.5 V5 turbo engine and very high specced (read heavy) interior. I needn't have worried. The Volvo V5 powerplant has mountains of torque all through the rev range, and turbo lag is not an issue. It certainly isn't the fastest hot hatch, but isn't the slowest either, and grip is excellent for a front wheel drive car with so much power. Torque steer, amazingly, is virtually non-existent.
The handling and grip in the corners is excellent, and the traction control, if you choose to leave it on, is not too intrusive, so even serious drivers may choose to leave it on. It also brakes well too, and unless you track it, you shouldn't have a problem.
Talking of tracks, to be honest it is not as capable as other competitors on the track. The Renaultsport Megane (Cup), the original FRS and Civic Type R, may edge it on a track - though not by far. But travelling to and from the track, and even on it, the ST is the better place to be by a mile. This makes the ST much more capable, too, on British roads, where it can cope with odd cambers, potholes and bumps, very well with a nice balanced set up, soaking up uneveness, but stiff enough to not roll around corners.
There are plenty of reliable tuning options too, with it being a Ford, and 260+Bhp from just a remap for a few hundred quid is well worth it, which smoothes out the power delivery and gives it more go.
With it being a 2.5 litre turbo, it is a little thirsty, but not more than you would expect of such an engine - I average 25mpg with mixed driving, hammer it everywhere and you'll drop below 20, stick at motorway speeds and you'll get over 30. The tank is a little small, 55 litres, and that generally gets me 300 miles.
On the downside, cruise control, folding mirrors and one touch windows should be standard on all models, and they aren't - in fact cruise is not at all easy to fit. And, it is a little quiet, which is a shame as the V5 engine should be given more of an airing - but in that way it is not as in your face as the original RS of the current Focus RS - a nice balance.
Overall, I think the ST has the edge over the VXR, CTR and Golf; it doesn't beat them in every area but is consitently good and is just a nice place to be.
Well what a car! We have had our focus ST since Jan 07 and we still love it as much today as we did then. The only difference being it is now a bit dirtier.
The car that was the follow on to the much loved RS did have a lot of living up to do and I believe that it didn't fail. The car is more grown up than the RS leaving some of the boy racer charm behind and being more refined in its design outside and inside.
The car design is fantastic, it really stands out in a crowd. Even in a very busy Ikea car park our car is easily identifiable. The car looks sporty with its 18 inch alloys and the twin exhast. We have a 5 door ST2, so this model has the xenon headlights which are fantastic although incredibly expensive to replace so here is hoping we do not need to replace them for many years to come. When you switch the headlights on the bulbs rise up and then down giving the best angle to maximise the light. There is also headlight washers that will kick in every so often when you squirt water on the windscreen.
On the inside the car features recaro seats in the front. Incredibly comfortable, but if you are not so mobile you may struggle to get in and out. The back seats in the ST2 are not quite so comfortable but it still maintains a 5 seater unlike the ST3 which has shaped back seats and is therefore a 4 seater.
The inside dash has 3 mid console dials showing turbo and that has a really cool look to it. From the central mirror there is a submarine red light that shines down on the gear stick and the black roof makes this a joy to be in at night. We got the extra of having window blinds fitting withing the back doors and this is great now we have a baby in the back. The ST does not come with isofix bracets as standard but these are easy for your dealer to fit for you.
The car handles and performs as it should, giving control and confidence in the corners and speed when you need it. The best thing about this car has got to be when the turbo kicks in, the noise always makes me smile.
The fuel economy is never going to be great but I tend to get 27 MPG with a combined town and motorway driving. Servicing again isn't the cheapest and tyres tend to come in around £125 each so the maintenance of the car can be quite a bit.
We have kept on using the Continental sport tyres that the manufacturer recommended and we get about 10 months from the front tyres .
I love this car, it has the design and performance that I wanted as well as a 5 star safety award. There are so many airbags in the car!
Our car is a lovely sea grey colour, the most popular colour for this car has to be the vivid orange however this colour was supposed to be limited edition. If you bought your car thinking that it truly was going to be limited then I would assume you would be upset as Ford do not seem to be stopping this any time soon.
The ST was deemed to be the "long-awaited successor" to the Focus RS (which I understand Ford are re-making this year possibly).
The ST was a chance for those of us that would like a performance vehicle without the hefty price tag attached.
When we purchased ours we were advised that there was quite a waiting list for them - as my dad works for Ford and we get a little discount, we decided to add extras to it with the thought of future selling in the back of our minds too. So we ordered it in December 2005 and we finally got it in September 2006!!! But that's an issue with Ford not the car.
I have a 3 door ST3 - the vehicle is available as an ST1, ST2 or the ST3 - my review is based on the one I have.
Starting with the outside - the car is nice looking without being too in your face - it looks sporty but is not too Boy-racer looking. It has twin exhausts at the back and has a distinct meaty growl upon start up and revving. Xenon headlights and fogs make for some real good night driving - the headlights on dipped beam on this car are brighter than my poor little Astra's main beam! This car is available in a limited choice of colours and the stripes (usually seen on the Fiestas) are optional but I feel the ST looks better without them. The ST features 18" alloy wheels and has been lowered and suspension stiffened. You really feel in control driving this car and it is a firm ride but you do feel it if you hit a nasty hole in the road (one would hope that we see them in time usually!)
The ST3 (and the ST2) has an ESP recalibrated system that only intervenes when it considers the driver really needs it however turn it off on this car in the search of ultimate driving thrills, and unlike some systems - it really is off!
Next, the inside - the vehicle really does again depend on what you add to the trim but as standard are Recaro seats in full leather trim, a six disc autochanger and an MP3 compatible stereo - we plug our mobiles into it and listen to music from that too! There are many strategically placed speakers in the car making music a pleasure for all passengers front and back. The stereo also adjusts it's volume levels automatically for you so as the engine noise goes up, so does the stereo - but not at a deafening level.
The frontscreen is heated for quick clearing.
My favourite "gadget" in side the car is the pod of dials on the dash! One dial shows the turbo boost pressure which is so cool as you are accelerating, oil pressure and oil temperature. The main dials in the car are also pretty smart and easy on the eye. At night there is also a dash light which shines down onto the gear stick and is red - you see it on the gear stick but not as a physical beam - if that makes sense??
There are even little bulbs you can add to the footwells that light up and go off in line with all the other interior lights. The trim is all well finished and of suitable quality.
We also have bluetooth added option to our ST3 so many of the controls within the car itself are voice controlled, for example, we can control the temperature in the car by telling it what temp we want. We can change discs in the player, tell it what radio channel we want and use the mobile phones completely handsfree - we just tell it who we want it to call. If we could only choose one added extra for this car, the bluetooth would definately be it!
The interior is roomy and comfortable for the rear seat passengers too. There is no middle seat in this car - it really is only 2 passengers in the back. The boot is of a reasonable size - my only bugbear with it was they put a normal spare tyre in there (not an alloy) but did not sink it - by the time we got ours, this had been revised and a space saver replacement is there instead making the boot deeper and more accomodating.
Most importantly - this car comes with six airbags and this is so on all the ST's. The focus scored the maximum five stars for safety in the NCAP crash testing which is reassuring.
Now performance - The ST features a 2.5 litre five cylinder turbo charged unit that normally powers Volvos. It delivers strong performance from low down the rev range right through to the red line when many turbocharged engines need 3000rpm before there's any real thrust. The 5 cylinder engine produces a characterful noise - being hushed and quiet whilst you cruise along but delivering a fruity growl when you up the ante! Great fun! It delivers 221 BHP and a top speed of 152 MPH. 0-60 comes in 6.6 seconds.
But with that comes an insurance grouping of 17 and a bit expensive on the old fuel. It should manage 30mpg which is not too bad considering the performance it offers. It has a manual six speed gearbox which is the only transmission offered on this car.
ST's are really holding their value as well at the moment.
This is a popular car with high re-sale potential and great fun as well as practical when required. I would recommend to people for sure!