The Europeans have been enjoying the famous Ford Focus ST and RS for quite some time, and now we North Americans get a crack at this little “hot hatch”. We had an opportunity to spend a week with the 2013 Ford Focus ST, below are our thoughts on this pocket-rocket.
In North America, we did get the Focus SVT from the previous generation, but it wasn’t as good its European counterpart. For the 3rd generation performance version of the Focus, Ford’s European (team RS) and American engineers (team SVT) worked together to bring the truly global Ford ST, the ST stands for “Sports Technologies”. The new Focus ST will be available in over 40 markets with a few minor changes based on local regulations.
The 2013 Ford Focus ST we test drove had a starting price of $27,519 CAD; our car came with options like the MyFord Touch/SIRIUS radio/10 speaker sound system ($1,000), power moon roof ($1,200), and navigation system ($700). With a total price of $30,419 plus $1,550 delivery, these prices are before local taxes.
2013 Ford Focus ST Driven:
The Focus ST is all about the driving experience and that’s where we’ll start. The previous generation ST came with a 5-cylinder engine, that engine has been replaced by a 2.0 liter turbocharged in-line 4-cylinder EcoBoost engine with direct injection. This little engine produces 252 horsepower at 5,500 rpm and 270 pound-feet of torque at 2,500 rpm. The engine is mated to a 6-speed manual transmission, for those of you that can’t drive a manual car, you’re out of luck; there is currently no automatic option. The 2013 Focus ST does the 0 – 60 mph (96 km/h) sprint in around 6.0 seconds, according to Ford’s website, it does it in 6.2 seconds. This is a fast little car!
Front-wheel-drive cars are famous for torque steer, especially when they have as much power as the ST, but that’s not the case here; the ST manages the torque nicely and you won’t be pushed from side-to-side during heavy accelerations. With the help of Electric Power-Assisted Steering (EPAS) and the Electronic Stability Control (SC), torque steer is almost non-existent. Under heavy acceleration, the car stays pretty straight, with the ESC on. But if you want to have some real fun, you’ll need to turn this off for some tire smoking action. The ESC has three modes; Normal, Sport, and Off. Normal mode works well in everyday driving, if you’re feeling racy, put it into Sport or turn it off completely for some good times.
The power delivery is very smooth and linear; it’s quite fun racing from red light to red light. The gears shift smoothly, but the gear lever does feel rubbery (something I’ve noticed in most new cars); I personally prefer more of a clunky feel. I did really like the feel of the clutch, its buttery smooth- not too soft and not too hard. Ford has added a very useful feature to the transmission, the hill assist; when you’re stopped on a hill and you release the brake, the car doesn’t roll back. On really steep hills, I normally pull the hand-brake to avoid rolling back, with this system; there is no need for that.
The suspension on the Focus ST is very nicely tuned; it’s quite firm but pretty comfortable. I personally like firm suspensions, so you might want to go for a test drive on some bumpy roads if you’re looking to purchase a Ford Focus ST. With this setup, you can really throw this car into corners, the car acts almost like a rear wheel drive car. With ESC off, you can actually get the rear end loose, something I’ve never experienced in a front-wheel-drive car.
Overall, this is a very powerful car that performs very well but I do have some complaints. The first one is noise, or the lack of. This is a “tuner” type car and it needs to make noise, from the engine and the exhaust. Ford does have a system that puts some of the noise from the induction into the cabin, but it feels fake. And the exhaust is way too quiet for a performance oriented car, if I were to buy this car, the first thing I’d do is install an aftermarket exhaust system. The second problem I have with this car is the steering, electric-assisted steering to be more precise. My problem with the electric steering is not just with the Focus ST, but with most new cars. There just isn’t any feedback; I really wanted to feel the road, especially with this car. Hopefully car manufacturers can work out the kinks in electric steering, because cars like the ST are too nice not to have real feel you get from hydraulic steering.
Styling-wise, the Focus ST looks very similar to the regular Focus. You have to look really closely, especially at the front, to notice there is something special about this car. The rear does give it away with the dual-center mounted exhaust tips and the large spoiler mounted above the rear window. There are red ST badges on the front grill and the rear, and the ST does sit lower than a regular Focus and it comes with side-skirts and bigger 18” wheels.
Personally, I would’ve liked the front end of the car to be a bit more aggressive. I think the hood needs a scoop or vents to distinguish it from the regular Focus. Other than that, it’s a pretty good looking car with a nice low stance and a muscular build.
The interior on the Focus ST, like most other new Ford cars, is a pleasant place to be in. The first thing you’ll notice is the super aggressive Recaro bucket seats that embrace you like a lover that hasn’t seen you for monthsJ. These seats really hold you in place perfectly, and they’re very comfortable; these seats will come in handy when you take the car to the track. These seats are leather covered and can be ordered with body matching color inserts. The driver’s seat comes with a few power adjustments (forward/backward, up/down, reline etc.), I would’ve liked a few more adjustments, especially for the side bolsters.
The interior has plenty of room, it is a small car, so don’t expect any miracles. There was enough room for my needs and were I to buy this car, I’d treat it like a sports car with bonus rear seats and cargo room at the back. The layout reminds me a bit of the Ford Escape, but this one doesn’t feel at futuristic, which is a good thing; I’ve never been a fan of the Escape’s interior shapes. Everything is laid out in an ergonomic way and is within easy reach. Like most new cars, the interior layout is minimalist with only a few buttons. The car comes with the MyFord Touch system, which allows the users to control most of the functions (entertainment, navigation, climate) with the touchscreen, steering wheel mounted buttons, or using voice-command.
Closing Thoughts on the Ford Focus ST
The Ford Focus ST lives up to its fame and I’m glad we’re finally able to get it in North America. It’s a great little car with sports car-like performance and the convenience of a hatchback. It can be driven like an average family car, with great gas mileage, to get groceries and do other boring real life things; but it also has a split personality that will put a big grin on your face.
For more information, check out the official Ford Focus ST page here.