Ford Focus ST review (2020)

13 Aug 2021, 13:35  •  Review  •  Door koen

Ford is spooning the 2.3-liter four-cylinder EcoBoost from the Mustang and the previous-generation Focus RS into the new Focus ST. The result is perhaps the nicest hot hatch of the moment. went on the road with it and now needs to recover for a few days.

Focus ST

Real car enthusiasts know it: at Ford they know how to make a sporty chassis. Ford has made developing fast hatchbacks an art form. The 2018 Fiesta ST has already generated a lot of smiles per mile and the new Focus ST takes it even further.

For five days we had the keys to Ford’s new crack bar. The Focus ST is an old-fashioned hardcore hot hatch. You will not encounter terms such as durability, cylinder deactivation or eco mode in this article. Although that will probably be different with the next generation, so enjoy it even more now.

Ford Focus ST exhaust

From the outside it is clear that the Focus ST is not a normal hatchback. But it is mainly the two fist-thick exhausts and bright red brake calipers that really give away that this is not a sporty ST-line version, but the real deal.

The exhausts are very noticeable. We often see big fat exhaust tailpipes, but this is just almost raunchy! We like it…

Multi Color Ambient Lightning Ford

The red brake calipers are part of the Performance Pack. A must-have, if you ask us. The package costs 1,200 euros, but then you get adjustable dampers, four driving modes (Slippery, Normal, Sport and Track), Rev Match, Launch Control, Shift Lights and Multi Color Ambient Lightning.


Before we start the engine, we take a look around the interior. You can still go out with the whole family in the hatchback. You are just a little faster at your final destination. Things that are in the normal variant of the Focus – such as the SYNC 3 infotainment system with support for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto – are of course still present.

In the interior there are of course some ST logos and a carbon strip that runs over the entire dashboard. As far as special clothing is concerned, it stays that way. In the front are two Recaro sports fairings covered with Alcantara, which keep you in place even in the sharpest bends. And believe us, this is absolutely not a luxury in this car.

Ford Mustang

There doesn’t seem to be a new Focus RS, but Ford makes up for that in our opinion by throwing the block from the previous RS into the ST. This engine is also in the Mustang and is good for 280 hp and no less than 420 Nm. There is no C-segmenter with more torque than the Focus ST. In sixth gear on the highway, it’s no problem to turn on it, downshifting is actually superfluous. Brute force, that’s the best way to describe the block.

Ford Focus ST handling

Sometimes it’s hard to control a car, but in the Focus ST it’s hard to control ourselves. You don’t have to worry about the car, even your mother-in-law can conquer the Nordschleife in the Focus ST. The car seems to have infinite grip and thanks to the large amount of torque you only have to release the clutch pedal to quietly roll away.

But keeping ourselves in check turns out to be much more difficult. Because this car drives so much fun. Within 5.7 seconds you sprint to 100 km/h and above that he just keeps on pulling like a maniac. So on the public road you have to have your right foot well under control, otherwise the fines will quickly pile up.

Michelin Pilot Sport

Straight ahead it’s a big party, but in curves it’s a lot of fun. The Michelin Pilot Sport tires developed for the Focus ST give the driver immediate confidence. At first that seems misleading, because are we that good or are we far from reaching the limits of what we can do? It’s the latter of course, you can push this car very far before it gives in.

Among other things, an electronic differential lock ensures that the driver can afford a lot. The system – what Ford calls eLSD – ensures that the power is sent to the correct front wheel.

Ford Focus ST manual transmission

Ford produces the Focus ST with an automatic or manual transmission, but only the latter variant is available in the Netherlands. Exactly as we like to see it in such a car, although this choice was mainly made because of the higher CO2 emissions that make an automatic version more expensive in the Netherlands.

The six-speed manual transmission is easy to operate. During the first meters that we make, we are surprised during the downshift. Because even though our foot is not on the accelerator pedal, we really hear and see that the gas is being applied. It turns out to be the automatic intermediate gas function. Look, those are nice surprises!

Ford Focus infotainment and more

The Focus ST is a car for real enthusiasts. The interior is perhaps not as thickly dressed, as you would expect from a car of 49,330 euros, but that is not what this car is about. You buy a Focus ST because you love cars and love driving. And the experience behind the wheel is well worth the money. No Alcantara-clad dashboard or futuristic infotainment system can compete with that. After five days behind the wheel, we really need to recover, and you can’t give a car a greater compliment.

We have previously driven the new Ford Focus ST in France. You can see that spectacular experience in the mountains below:

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