Review: Ford Focus ST (2015 – 2018)
Fast and affordable for daily use. Available as a hatch or estate. Diesel engine is the same price as petrol. More refined than previous models.
Handling can be unpredictable in the wet. Diesel is economical, but lacks top end gunt. Boot space is small compared to rivals.
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Ford Focus ST (2015 – 2018): At A Glance
It might not be the quickest or cheapest fast Ford money can buy, but the Focus ST has lots of universal appeal thanks to its ability to mix hot hatch performance with everyday usability. Indeed, when it comes matching fun and value, the Focus ST is in a class of its own.
The Ford Focus ST can be specified as a hatchback or estate and there are two 2.0-litre engines to choose from - one petrol and one diesel. As you might expect, it's the 250PS four-cylinder petrol that provides the most fun, with 0-62mph taking 6.5 seconds and 360Nm of torque flowing all the way to 5000rpm.
Claimed fuel economy is decent too, with 41.5mpg and 159g/km of CO2. Admittedly, this is less than the Golf GTI, but it's worth noting that the Ford packs 30PS more power than the Volkswagen.
The ST can also be ordered with a performance-focused 185PS diesel, which matches its Volkswagen Golf GTD rival on economy with 110g/km of CO2 and a claimed 67.3mpg. However, while the economy ratings impress on paper, the Focus ST diesel fails to excite on the road, with lacklustre performance and disappointing power delivery. Indeed, unless you're a company car driver who really wants your diesel to look like a hot hatch, we'd recommend opting for the petrol.
While the front-wheel drive set-up can provide some challenges in the wet, the Focus ST largely impresses with firm but rewarding handling. The steering is well-weighted and the chassis feels light and nimble, with a keen turn in and lots of feedback.
The only area of criticism we would level at the Ford is its lack of upmarket feel in the cabin. Compared to the Golf GTI, the Focus ST feels somewhat low-thrills, with lots of cheap and flimsy plastics. Bootspace is also disappointing and hatchback versions offer a meagre 316 litres. That said, the Focus ST is perfectly comfortable for families and the Recaro front seats provide good levels of back and upper leg support for long distance drives. Estate versions eliminate the lack of storage issue, offering 476 litres.
However, one area where the Focus ST cannot be faulted is on value. In fact, the criticisms seem minor when you consider the huge gulf in price between the Ford and Volkswagen. What's more, in estate form, the Focus ST is almost unrivalled on price and performance aside from the Skoda Octavia vRS.
What does a Ford Focus ST (2015 – 2018) cost?
Ford Focus ST (2015 – 2018): What's It Like Inside?
The Focus ST’s interior is a significant improvement over the old model, with the messy, button laden centre stack gone in favour of a smarter and cleaner layout. We’d recommend upgrading to Sync2, which adds an eight-inch touchscreen and DAB audio. Not only does this cull the button count even further, but it also allows the driver to operate the media and heating controls via the large and easy to use colour screen.
None of the ST trims include navigation as standard though and some of the interior plastics do feel a little cheap and flimsy. The centre stack is also prone to emitting the odd creak and groan as you travel over rough roads, which raise some concerns over interior build quality.
We also dislike the steering-wheel mounted controls. There are far too many buttons on the wheel and the voice control switch is annoyingly located between the volume buttons, which makes it all too easy to activate it by mistake.
The interior is comfortable though and there's more than enough space for a family of four, although the 316 litre of boot for the hatchback is on the small side, especially when compared to the 380 litres you get in the Volkswagen Golf GTI. The Focus ST estate fixes this though, extending storage to 476 litres.
All models get Recaro sports seats as standard, which are extremely comfortable, with lots of back support. This makes them superb for long distance driving, although you'll have to spec up to ST3 to get powered adjustment. Aside from the ST branding and front seats, the cabin is pretty much identical to the highest-trim Focus and six footers will have little trouble fitting into the rear seats.
ST 1 gets 18-inch ST alloy wheels, Thatcham Cat 1 alarm, ST design full bodykit, rear spoiler, manual air conditioning, Ford Sync, with Bluetooth and voice control, colour 4.2-inch TFT display, keyless start, ST leather gear knob, ST front scuff plates and a tyre pressure monitoring system.
ST-2 adds: Recaro sports seats, heated windscreen, LED daytime running lights, automatic headlights, rain sensitive windscreen wipers, auto dimming rear view mirror, dual automatic temperature control plus front and rear carpet mats.
ST-3 includes Rock metallic 18-inch ST alloy wheels, zenon headlights, with adaptive front lighting, red brake callipers, rear parking sensors, sync2 with eight-inch touchscreen infotainment, Recaro heated front sports seats, with leather seat facing, driver and passenger eight way power adjustable seats, cruise control, Ford keyfree system and powerfold door mirrors.
Child seats that fit a Ford Focus ST (2015 – 2018)Our unique Car Seat Chooser shows you which child car seats will fit this car and which seat positions that they will fit, so that you don't have to check every car seat manufacturer's website for compatibility.
What's the Ford Focus ST (2015 – 2018) like to drive?
- Engines range from 2.0 TDCi 185 to 2.0T EcoBoost 250 Estate
- Readers report Real MPG to be between 23–57 mpg
There are two four-cylinder engines to choose from, but it's the excellent 250PS 2.0-litre petrol that strikes the best balance between performance and value. Capable of covering 0-62mph in 6.5 seconds, the high-revving four-cylinder unit provides effortless performance and will easily surpass 150mph on track. It will also return meaningful fuel economy, with Ford claiming 41.5mpg and 159g/km of CO2.
If you favour fuel economy over performance then you can specify the Focus ST with diesel power, but we wouldn't recommend it. The 185PS four-cylinder unit does boast more torque than the petrol version, but lacks the free-revving nature that make the Focus ST so likable.
In comparison the diesel delivers all of its power at around 3000rpm, causing unintentional wheel spin as you attempt to leave junctions quickly and resulting in lots of frustration. Keep your foot planted you'll discover that the power fades away at 3500rpm, leaving the Focus feeling rather gutless.
Both the petrol and diesel engines are linked to a short-shifting six-speed manual gearbox as standard. There is no automatic option and Ford has no plans to introduce one either, arguing that it dilutes the involving nature of the Focus ST.
Ford also decided against giving the Focus ST a mechanical limited-slip differential. Instead it uses a torque vectoring system that electronically manages the power delivery to the front-wheels.
For the most part, this system works fine, but it does struggle in wet or less than perfect road conditions. As a result the Focus ST has a tendency to tug at the steering wheel under hard acceleration, as it struggles for traction or attempts to follow the camber of the road.
However, in the dry or under moderate power, the Focus ST is easy to drive and hugely rewarding with a sharp turn in and lots of grip in the corners. Both the hatch and estate benefit from superb steering, which increases the feedback with each turn of the wheel. The electronic stability system can also be switched to sport mode, which gives fuller control over engine torque while reducing computerised brake interventions.
|2.0 TDCi 185||67 mpg||8.1 s||110 g/km|
|2.0 TDCi 185 Estate||67 mpg||8.3 s||110 g/km|
|2.0T EcoBoost 250||42 mpg||6.5 s||159 g/km|
|2.0T EcoBoost 250 Estate||42 mpg||6.7 s||159 g/km|
Real MPG average for a Ford Focus ST (2015 – 2018)
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.
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 (2015 – 2018)?
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.
Will disabling the keyless entry through the menu in a car and using the keyfob manually make any difference to security?
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