From £16,2356
Looks good but doesn't have the driving appeal to justify the ST tag in its name
Autocar
13 September 2016

What is it?

This sporty-looking version of Ford’s Focus family hatch is designed to rival the likes of Renault’s Mégane GT-Line and Vauxhall’s Astra VX-Line. It has much of the visual swagger of its hotter ST sibling but nothing like the same amount of power under the bonnet.

On the outside there’s a full bodykit, including a large rear spoiler and body skirts, plus a gloss black honeycomb-style front grille and dark surrounds for the foglights. Sports suspension and 17in alloy wheels painted in Rock Metallic grey complete the exterior alterations.

On the inside there’s a black headlining, sports seats with red stitching and a perforated leather, Focus ST-inspired steering wheel. You step in over an ST-Line kick plate and change gear with an ST-style gearknob.

At launch, the Focus ST-Line is offered with a choice of either a 1.0-litre three-cylinder Ecoboost petrol engine in 124bhp or 148bhp form, or the 118bhp 1.5-litre diesel that we're testing here. 

What's it like?

There’s no denying the Focus ST-Line does a good job of mimicking the styling of the raunchy ST. Squatting 10mm closer to the road than a regular Focus and decked out in its full bodykit, it has strong enough on-road presence to tempt other drivers to race it from the lights.

Unfortunately, fitted with the 1.5 TDCi enigne, the ST-Line has neither the pace nor aural appeal to back up its looks – or compete in a straight-line race. Push the standard button starter and the 118bhp engine emits a noisy diesel rasp, which doesn’t dissipate as you pull away. It’s woefully short of pulling power from a standing start; its 0-62mph time of 10.5sec is around two seconds slower than you get from a Vauxhall Astra 1.6 CDTi, and its engine note just doesn’t suit the ST-inspired styling.

That said, once you’re on the move and the turbo is on song, it’s sprightly enough to keep up with other traffic, and the engine works well with the slick, short-shifting six-speed manual gearbox. It’s then that you begin to appreciate the Focus’s widely acclaimed precise steering, which lets you place the car through corners with precision. Anyone spending long stretches of time behind the wheel will also be grateful that the ST-Line’s ride is gentler than that of a full-blown ST over pockmarked UK roads.  

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The paybacks for the meagre performance are an impressive combined fuel economy figure of 65.7mpg and CO2 emissions of 99g/km. Both will make the ST-Line appealing for those on a tight budget or a company car driver.

While the interior doesn’t quite manage to pull off a truly upmarket air, the red-stitched fabric sports seats hug you nicely and the driving position is good.

The ST-Line is kitted out with Ford’s Sync2 8.0in touchscreen infotainment system, which has large, clear icons and intuitive menus. Standard kit also includes a DAB radio, air-con and keyless start, but not sat-nav, parking sensors or automatic emergency braking. 

Should I buy one?

The Focus 1.5 TDCi ST-Line feels like too much of a mixed-up model to recommend to an enthusiastic driver. It looks the part, but it’s a car that’s all mouth and no trousers, because it simply doesn’t have the pace or character to pull off the ST moniker.

With prices starting above £20,000, and this five-door version pitching in at more than £21,000, the ST-Line is too expensive for an eco-friendly Focus. In fact, the total cost of our test car was less than £1500 shy of the cost of a real-deal ST-1 – and there's no question which one you'd rather be driving.

The only reason to consider it is if you’re a company car driver, restricted to a model with low emissions and high mpg. In that case, at least it’ll give you the chance to look the part as you cruise around – slowly – during the working day.

Claire Evans

Ford Focus 1.5 TDCi ST-Line

Price £21,295; On sale Now; Engine 4 cyls, 1499cc, diesel; Power 118bhp at 3600pm; Torque 199lb ft at 1750rpm; Gearbox 6-spd manual; Kerb weight 1343kg; 0-62mph 10.5sec; Top speed 120mph; Economy 65.7mpg (combined); CO2/tax band 99g/km, 19%; Rivals Vauxhall Astra VX-Line, Renault Mégane GT-Line

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Nobbysnuts 29 May 2019

I recently bought this car

I recently bought this car and can honestly say that if I'd based my choice on this review I probably wouldn't have. It's complete rubbish about it having no power. Sure, it's not as fast as the ST model, but it was never going to be. There's plenty of power and most of all torque, in any gear from 1500rpm, which makes overtaking easy. Once up to speed the diesel noise is practically none existent. On the back roads and motorway it makes a comfortable cruiser and returns excellent fuel economy. I wonder if sometimes these people don't actually test the real car and just invent some nonsense instead...
JeoJohn 24 March 2018

Nice

A nice review that  revealed well with your point of view.Thank you for sharing .Expectng more such realistic reviews

dougflump 13 September 2016

Not another Stink wheel

Oh no not another stink wheel...many years ago I was talking to my RAF trained Uncle about his great knowledge of the infernal combustion engine and his thoughts have haunted me ever since.
" diesel or a 2 Stroke petrol engines never give you a reliable warning as to when they will blow up, they can sound like a tin of rattling nuts and bolts and go on forever or sound smooth and rattle free and be reduced to their molecular parts next week"
He wasn't wrong, the quicker the diesel gets dropped the better.
Over the last year alone one could have bought a very nice luxury car for the cost of repairs to pals diesel disasters.
nicolodeon 15 November 2016

dougflump wrote:

dougflump wrote:

Oh no not another stink wheel...many years ago I was talking to my RAF trained Uncle about his great knowledge of the infernal combustion engine and his thoughts have haunted me ever since.
" diesel or a 2 Stroke petrol engines never give you a reliable warning as to when they will blow up, they can sound like a tin of rattling nuts and bolts and go on forever or sound smooth and rattle free and be reduced to their molecular parts next week"
He wasn't wrong, the quicker the diesel gets dropped the better.
Over the last year alone one could have bought a very nice luxury car for the cost of repairs to pals diesel disasters.

Hear hear dougflump, these 'thousand hammers' diseasal drearymobiles are appalling to drive with their excuciatingly noisy joyless lumps thrumming away, the sooner these things are powering compressors and generators again and not put in cars anymore the better...

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