Review: Ford Focus ST (2005 – 2011)

Rating:

Characterful five-cylinder 2.5-litre engine. Rides and handles very well.

Not especially economical. Many used examples have been thrashed.

Recently Added To This Review

27 May 2019

Report of a/c finally failing in 2005 Ford Focus ST at 60,000 miles. A/c has been regassed in the past but is now not working at all. Local garage gave a price of £587 for a new compressor, plus... Read more

22 September 2013

PAS pump failed on 49k mile 3 year old ST2 just 1 month our of warranty. Cost £846. Read more

25 October 2011

Timing belt tensioner of 2.5 litre Volvo engine can fail in as little as 50,000 miles, flinging off the belt and wrecking the engine, then landing the owner with a £6,000 bill. Read more

Ford Focus ST (2005 – 2011): At A Glance

Fast Fords have been around a lot longer than fast VWs. Think back to the original Ford Cortina GT and Ford Lotus Cortina. In those days VWs still had sluggish flat-four engines in the boot. It actually took VW another ten years to come up with the Golf, and thirteen to launch the Sloane's favourite okay yah GTi.

Then, in the decades that followed, snobbery dictated that that fast VWs were for yuppies and fast Fords were for chavs. And the truth was that the Mk II Golf GTi was a better car than the Escort XR3i. The Mk II GTi 16v was better than the Escort RS Turbo. Lines were drawn. Plumbers and plasterers wouldn't be seen dead in a Golf. Snobs turned their noses up at anyone in an Escort.

Then with the Mks III and IV Golfs started putting on weight and losing their reputation for reliability. While Ford had the audacity to come up with a better car. So much better that when VW re-thought its Golf for the fifth time it used the Focus as its benchmark.

Ford Focus ST 2005 Road Test

 

 

What does a Ford Focus ST (2005 – 2011) cost?

List Price from £30,695
Buy new from £27,710
Contract hire from £384.18 per month
Get a finance quote with CarMoney

Ford Focus ST (2005 – 2011): What's It Like Inside?

Dimensions
Length 4357–4362 mm
Width 1839–1840 mm
Height 1497 mm
Wheelbase 2640 mm

Full specifications

Unlike VW which (possibly for the last time) actually got away with asking a premium price for the Golf GTI 2.0T, Ford pared the ST down to the basics of engine, wheels, seats and tyres with a CD player and a/c for just £17,495. You want more, you pay more, but you don't actually need any more than you get with the basic car.

Child seats that fit a Ford Focus ST (2005 – 2011)

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What's the Ford Focus ST (2005 – 2011) like to drive?

Desperate to regain the high ground VW pulled out all the stops to make its Mk V GTi 2.0T top of the class once again. And succeeded. It's a sweet engine in a fine handling car.

So what could Ford do? Well actually one of the first cars to be launched on the current Focus floorpan was the Volvo S40. And by far the best version of that is the 225PS 2.5 litre T5. So Ford had been testing the essential components of the Focus ST out there on the roads for at least two years. All the company had to do was tweak the chassis, re-work the styling, and buy a few thousand litres of ‘Electric Orange' paint and the Focus ST was born.

It's very smartly priced as well.

That offers you 0-60 in 6.5 seconds, tops out at over 150mph and has a solid wall or torque from 1,600rpm to 4,000rpm that means, like the Golf, there aren't any holes or hiccups in its power delivery.

And, of course, it's a hoot to drive.

As you'd expect, it's an understeerer. 225PS and 320Nm torque in a front drive car don't exactly promote oversteer. But it's all very well and very safely contained.

Out on a track you can push it into a glorious powered slide round a long left-hander, then link that it into an equally wonderful drift round the following right-hander. All totally under control. Obviously not the sort of thing you're going to indulge in on a public road, but the ability to link a left drift into a right drift is a very good testament to the fundamental safety of the chassis.

Sure on hairpins you have to be careful about how you feed in the power or with the ESP off you'll spin some of it away. And even out on the open road, with ESP on, when it's bumpy and greasy you can feel the car choosing which wheel to put down its power. But with 225PS and 320NM torque through the front wheels, that's inevitable.

It's got legs as well. 6th gear gives you 30mph per 1,000rpm. So high speed cruising is reasonably relaxed and economical. The deep Recaro bucket seats have a massive range of adjustment including height and tilt, but require a bit of agility to get into. The nice, thick leather steering wheel adjusts up and down and in and out. And, while £2,000 is a lot of extra money to spend on DVD satnav, the Ford system combines touch-screen operation with touch-screen radio and climate control. Just enter a postcode and the system will get you from one end of the country to an address at the other end.

As well as the Golf GTi 2.0T, the Focus ST is also up against the Astra VXR, The new 220PS Toyota Corolla Compressor and the slightly less powerful Octavia VRS and Leon 2.0TFSI which undercut it by £1,500.

Outrageous Astras have had their own select band of devotees for as long as Fast Fords, and I won't persuade a Vauxhall man to transfer his allegiance to the Focus ST. He'd just better be prepared for the much more aggressive delivery of the Astra's 240PS and 320Nm torque. Toyota has entered the fray with a supercharged Corolla, but reports suggest it hasn't been as well developed as the Focus and Golf. Look hard enough and you might still find an example of the Honda Civic Type R with its sensational chain cam 2.0 litre engine that develops 200PS without the need for a turbo or supercharger. Look very hard and you might see a RenaultSport Megane 225 on the road, but its rock hard suspension hasn't helped it become a best seller.

And, of course, if you want ST power without the Ford badge and with a boot or estate car behind you, you can always opt for the Volvo S40/V50 T5, used examples of which are now feeding through the auctions from as little as £13,000.

But the Focus ST is an excellent ‘fun' car and a fine only car, even for a family with kids, which is its big advantage over an MX5 or a Cooper S.

It's neck and neck with the Golf GTI 2.0T, and a lot less money.

 

Engine MPG 0-62 CO2
2.5 30 mpg 6.8 s 224 g/km

Real MPG average for a Ford Focus ST (2005 – 2011)

Real MPG was created following thousands of readers telling us that their cars could not match the official figures.

Real MPG gives real world data from drivers like you to show how much fuel a vehicle really uses.

Average performance

85%

Real MPG

20–32 mpg

MPGs submitted

157

Diesel or petrol? If you're unsure whether to go for a petrol or diesel (or even an electric model if it's available), then you need our Petrol or Diesel? calculator. It does the maths on petrols, diesels and electric cars to show which is best suited to you.

What have we been asked about the Ford Focus ST (2005 – 2011)?

Every day we're asked hundreds of questions from car buyers and owners through Ask Honest John. Our team of experts, including the nation's favourite motoring agony uncle - Honest John himself - answer queries and conudrums ranging from what car to buy to how to care for it as an owner. If you could do with a spot of friendly advice before buying you're next car, get in touch and we'll do what we can to help.

Ask HJ

Which car to replace my Mondeo ST24 offers good performance and large load carrying ability?

I have owned a Mondeo ST24 estate for 12 years. It has proved reliable, relatively economical, sporty, good to drive with decent performance and carries everything, including the kitchen sink. At 150,000 miles on the clock, I need to start thinking about a replacement. The current Mondeo seems not to have a suitable option and my favoured Ford would probably a Focus ST estate. Other contenders are a BMW 3 Series, Audi A4 or a V60 Volvo. An Octavia would probably also be worth considering. I prefer a manual gearbox and petrol engine. Mileage will probably be under 10,000. I tend to keep my cars a long time and buy nearly new.
The equivalent quick Mondeo EcoBoosts are now all Powershift autos. The 250PS Focus ST wagon is interesting, but I had problems with its trick diff and I'm not the only one: www.honestjohn.co.uk/road-tests/ford/ford-focus-st-2012-road-test// A BMW F30 245PS 328i would mean getting used to rear wheel drive: www.honestjohn.co.uk/road-tests/bmw/bmw-3-series-f30-2012-road-test// A4 range test here: www.honestjohn.co.uk/road-tests/audi/audi-a4-b8-2007-range-road-test// Have not yet driven a V60. Must put it on the list. New Octavia estate arriving soon.
Answered by Honest John
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