From £22,6858
Facelifted Focus ST now comes in diesel as well as petrol form, and it’s got plenty to worry VW’s Golf GTD

Our Verdict

Ford Focus ST

The Ford Focus ST has a new four-pot motor and a diesel added to the range, but does it have what it takes to gun for the Volkswagen Golf GTI and Golf GTD?

20 January 2015

What is it?

The Focus ST has always struggled to stand out in a line-up that includes arguably the greatest hot hatch of the past two decades: the all-conquering Fiesta ST.

So, in the hope of garnering a bit more interest in its 'other' hot model, the recently facelifted Focus is now on offer as a 182bhp 2.0 diesel as well as the usual 247bhp turbocharged petrol of the same capacity. Not before time, either, because until now the most powerful oil-burning Focus packed just 161bhp, leaving Ford with no real answer to the likes of the Volkswagen Golf GTD and Seat’s Leon 184 FR. And given the Focus’s popularity with the CO2-conscious fleet market, that was a pretty big deal.

What's it like?

Ford has resisted the temptation to make the diesel softer and less focused than the petrol ST – the route VW went down with its Golf GTD. That may not be entirely welcome news to those who spend their lives cruising up and down motorways, but if you think hot hatches are mainly about having fun, the Focus has plenty going for it.

You only need a couple of corners to realise this is a properly well-sorted hatch. It keeps its body in check far better than its two big VW Group rivals through fast direction changes, with lightning-quick steering that’s impossible to fault for accuracy – even if it’s not blessed with quite as much genuine feedback as we’d like. 

As with the petrol version, you do have to be bit careful when feeding the power back in on the exit of corners – especially when it’s teeming with rain as it was at points along our Spanish test route. But despite having 11 per cent more torque than the petrol ST, there’s actually less torque steer to deal with. This is partly, Ford says, down to software tweaks in the ESP, but also because the diesel has a different final drive ratio, so there’s actually less torque arriving at the wheels.

The engine impresses in other respects, too. It’s strong from 1500rpm but done by 4000rpm, so although there’s no point revving it out you can make pretty rapid progress by short-shifting. If you’re looking for outright pace, of course, the identically priced petrol-powered version is still the way to go.

As with the petrol, the diesel's engine noise is overdubbed by a sound symposer. We’ve questioned how authentic the noise sounds in the past, but when it’s drowning out diesel clatter it’s surprisingly welcome. It’s just a shame the boomy soundtrack doesn’t subside a bit more at a fast motorway cruise.

There’s also another downside that we’ve already alluded to, because while some rivals combine a relatively easygoing nature with a reasonable amount of fun, the Focus is all about the latter. That means it’s firm - impeccably well damped, as you’d expect of anything wearing the Blue Oval, but decidedly firm nonetheless. This is the biggest issue at speed, as the high-frequency vibrations you feel through your backside do become quite annoying. 

Should I buy one?

The good news is that this is no watered-down warm hatch masquerading under the famous ST badge. It may not be as quick as its petrol-powered sibling, but dynamically it’s every bit as good. In fact, with a slightly less frenzied power delivery, it actually feels like a slightly more balanced and rounded driver’s car.

For some – particularly those racking up big motorway miles – the firm ride and refinement issues may be enough to push them in the direction of the softer Golf GTD. But at least Ford’s different tack means there’s a genuine reason to choose the Focus, whereas there otherwise might not be.  

Focus Focus 2.0 TDCi 185 ST

Price £22,195; Engine 4 cyls, 1997cc, turbocharged, diesel; Power 182bhp at 3500rpm; Torque 295lb ft at 2000rpm; Gearbox 6-spd manual; Kerb weight na; Top speed 135mph; 0-62mph 8.1sec; Economy 67.3mpg (combined); CO2/tax band 110g/km, 18 per cent

Join the debate

Comments
15

20 January 2015
Looks sporty if not a bit chavvy, but its too slow for the ST badge. 0-60 in 8.1 seconds seems quite slow for its power output. BMW and VW offerings are much faster with slightly less power.

20 January 2015
Economy 67.3mpg (combined); CO2/tax band 110g/km. There's no denying that £20 tax for this car is hugely impressive but PLEASE give these completely false mpg figures a rest. I drive my 1.6tdci like Ms Daisy and I average a tad over 50mpg, so unlike the VW's I've owned, I can't get anywhere near claimed figures. But to claim 67.3mpg from an ST - something has to be done about these figures. They are not representative, they certainly can't be used to compare cares on a like-4-like basis, they are totally and utterly useless. They may as well quote 167.3mpg for all it's worth.

20 January 2015
scotty5 wrote:

Economy 67.3mpg (combined); CO2/tax band 110g/km. There's no denying that £20 tax for this car is hugely impressive but PLEASE give these completely false mpg figures a rest. I drive my 1.6tdci like Ms Daisy and I average a tad over 50mpg, so unlike the VW's I've owned

I've read reports of the Golf GTD MK7 only averaging early 40's MPG and my mothers Audi A1 1.6tdi is only averaging 44mpg. I have a Focus Tit-X 2.0tdci 163. Claimed average is 57mpg - this is easily achievable driven gently. Normally average lates 40's myself though.

This isn't the first diesel ST - The Mondeo MK3 2.2 ST TDCI was...

21 January 2015
You are correct, I have a GTD and it does about 42mpg in the winter and 50 in the summer on my 13 mile commute. I have reached the heady heights of 58mpg for a 105 mile motorway journey maintaining 80mph in the summer.

All the manufacturers are at it now. For 6 previous VWs bought new, the combined figure was an honest account of what I could achieve on my commute without driving like a nun.

The inclusion of stop-start tech is to blame, it heavily influences the EU test cycle (11 minutes long, a quarter of which has the car at a standstill), but has a tiny effect for most people that aren't permanently gridlocked. Take the official figure of a new car now and knock 30% off, that's all you'll be getting around the doors.

28 January 2015
monkeyhanger wrote:

You are correct, I have a GTD and it does about 42mpg in the winter and 50 in the summer on my 13 mile commute. I have reached the heady heights of 58mpg for a 105 mile motorway journey maintaining 80mph in the summer.

All the manufacturers are at it now. For 6 previous VWs bought new, the combined figure was an honest account of what I could achieve on my commute without driving like a nun.

The inclusion of stop-start tech is to blame, it heavily influences the EU test cycle (11 minutes long, a quarter of which has the car at a standstill), but has a tiny effect for most people that aren't permanently gridlocked. Take the official figure of a new car now and knock 30% off, that's all you'll be getting around the doors.

That's short distances with diesels in the winter.

I have the Leon FR184 and am averaging about 55mpg to a tank in the winter but my commute is 75 miles. The summer it is much better on the same commute but the average is diluted by shorter trips then too that I can't be bothered to do when it's cold and dark.

I priced this (live in ROI) the new ST diesel (bad to call it STD?!?) works out at €10k more than another FR184...I nearly fell off my chair.

20 January 2015
With those central exhaust pipes does this exclude a certain section of the car buying public ?

A34

21 January 2015
.... namely a Leon ST Cupra. VAG drivetrain, and an interesting challenger to this!

20 January 2015
I feel the ST initials have been soiled, in soot!

 

Hydrogen cars just went POP

20 January 2015
It's a new form of double punctuation.

20 January 2015
I like that body color,not sure the Dashboard is funky enough,a bit VW,all Grey and not much bling,will be interesting to see how the Diesel fares against it's peers.

Peter Cavellini.

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