Ford Focus ST Review 2024

Ford Focus ST At A Glance

Honest John Overall Rating
The Ford Focus ST is one of the best hot hatchbacks, delivering a hugely enjoyable driving experience without sacrificing comfort or practicality.

+Mixes everyday usability with speed and driving fun. Family-sized interior space. Estate version is hugely practical. Impressive infotainment system.

-Not the most thrilling hot hatch. Smallish boot in the hatchback. Easy to spend well over £40,000 with options.

New prices start from £32,510
On average it achieves 0% of the official MPG figure

Ford has probably done more to democratise performance than any other car company, and the Ford Focus ST hot hatch is a case in point. That’s because it’s a brilliant, all-purpose kind of car that is realistically affordable for a lot of people. And it happens to be really fast and fun to drive alternative to a Volkswagen Golf GTI, Hyundai i30 N, Cupra Leon and Honda Civic Type R.

Let’s start by examining what makes the Ford Focus itself so good. It functions really well as a family car, with plenty of space for a typical family of four and a decent-sized boot. Go for the estate version (which is also available in ST guise) and that boot becomes genuinely huge.

The Focus may be family-friendly, but it’s still quite a compact car, so it doesn't feel excessively big for single people and couples.

Its interior is a really pleasant place to spend time, too. The dashboard looks good, the seats are fantastically comfortable and supportive (the Ford Focus ST’s sports seats, in particular), it’s quiet, there’s a good view out from every seat, and it feels quite plush and really well-made.

Among the raft of updates applied to all Focus models in 2022 was a new infotainment system with a 13.2-inch touchscreen display, which runs Ford’s latest SYNC 4 software. If you’re familiar with older Ford infotainment systems, you’ll notice straight away that the new one is a massive improvement, with sharper graphics and simpler-format navigation. If you’re new to Ford, just know that this is one of the best media systems in the business.

Even regular Focus models are fantastic to drive. They feel light and poised, and you have complete trust that the car will do what you want. More than that, you feel like you’re directly plugged into the car, which makes the Focus really rewarding and fun – whether you’re just popping to the shops or going for a blast on a favourite country road. 

In the Ford Focus ST, everything gets turned up a few notches. The 280PS 2.3-litre turbocharged EcoBoost petrol engine serves up a suitably rapid turn of speed, with a 0-62mph time of 5.8 seconds and 155mph top speed. And the suspension is tuned and honed to provide a more focused and fun driving experience.

It’s not the quickest or most hard-edged hot hatchback you can buy, but the Ford Focus ST treads the fine line between everyday usability and ultimate B-road thrills. It’s really fast and fun when you want it to be, the rest of the time it’s a normal everyday car that’s easy to park and can dispatch hundreds of motorway miles in one stride. Faster hot hatches tend to feel like they’re straining at the leash, which can make them a bit wearing when it’s not appropriate to let them run.

There’s only one model of Ford Focus ST available, with a few variations. The hatchback costs just under £37,000 at the time of writing, while the estate is an extra £1400. You can add an automatic gearbox, but it dulls the driving experience. The ST is also the best-equipped Focus you can get, coming with loads of features as standard.

There are more thrilling small-ish fast cars than the Ford Focus ST, but few are as well-rounded or as usable everyday, especially if we’re talking about the estate. With production of all Focus models due to end in 2025, buy one while you still can.

Ask Honest John

Why don't you rate the Ford Focus ST as one of the best hot hatches?

"In your Top 10: Hot Hatches list, you rate the Ford Fiesta ST but what about the Focus ST with the 2.3 engine? Why no mention?"
There's nothing wrong with the Focus ST but there are a lot of cars in that sector that are just as good if not better – cars like the Hyundai i30N, Honda Civic Type R and Volkswagen Golf GTI. If we had to choose just one Ford hot hatch, though, it'd be the Fiesta ST. It's truly something special – more fun for less money and there's nothing else quite like it. Top 10: Hot Hatches:
Answered by Andrew Brady

Can you recommend a sports car for a tall driver?

"I've not long retired and would like to get a nippy sports car. I have a budget of about £10k. I'm 6ft 8ins tall and feel my choice may be very limited. Any ideas as to what I might fit in?"
While not quite as tall as you (I'm a mere 6ft3), I too have issues getting comfortable in sports cars. I suppose it depends on what you want from a sports car. You could go for a hot hatch like a Focus ST or Octavia vRS which has plenty of space but if you want a 'true' sports car like a two-seater, you may be more limited. Porsches tend to have good space and plenty of seat adjustment so an early Cayman or a Boxster may suit. Similarly, an Audi TT could be worth a look. German cars tend to have more space than French or Japanese when it comes to sports cars.
Answered by David Ross

What's the best affordable hot hatch?

"I'm looking at buying a hot hatch to complete my garage. I will be using it as one of my daily drivers, and the main purpose of it will be to have fun down the back roads. I have discounted the Hinda Civic Type R, as I found the infotainment system utterly dreadful and I couldn't live with that. Plus I have also discounted the M135i as I'm not a fan of the looks. I have also discounted the new Golf GTI as I didn't get that "feeling" when I drove it. I'm unsure of what to buy, any help would be appreciated. Budget isn't an issue, nor is fuel economy, but ideally it shouldn't be too expensive or too harsh on fuel. Currently, my favourite car that I've driven is the Focus ST. Should I buy this or something else?"
Try a Hyundai i30N Performance. It might be one of the more affordable hot hatches but we reckon it's also one of the best. It sounds terrific, is a riot to drive and has a better interior than the Civic. Chuck in a five-year, unlimited mileage warranty and it's a really good purchase. Otherwise, the Focus ST is a good choice, or also consider a Mercedes-AMG A35.
Answered by Andrew Brady
More Questions

What does a Ford Focus ST cost?