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

Our Verdict

Ford Focus

Britain's biggest-selling family hatchback gets a mid-life refresh, but can the Ford Focus hold off the likes of the Volkswagen Golf and the Seat Leon?

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.  

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

Join the debate

Comments
13

13 September 2016
Has now been cheapened, like AMG. The shame!

 

Hydrogen cars just went POP

13 September 2016
this is ideal for new young drivers, they get the "cool" visual appeal and their parents get their child into a slow economical runaround.
Red Devil

13 September 2016
I like the idea of this, probably would be better with the petrol engines though, either the 1.0 triple or the 1.6 four-pot (I think that is what was meant to be eluded to as the 148 bhp option!). It may not be as hot or as sharp as an ST, but I think that's not the point.

This is coming from a mk3 ST owner too!

db

13 September 2016
you cant blame Ford for wanting a bit of profit from their cars just as other manufacturer do with their label names with no substance S line R design and others . I am sure a A3 1.6 TDI S line is a bundle of sporting joy just as Mercedes A class Renault 1.5 diesel, all flash and no go but the owners don't seem to care. I think this is a little hard on what is still a good car to drive but doesn't make the brand grade.

13 September 2016
db wrote:

yo.... I am sure a A3 1.6 TDI S line is a bundle of sporting joy....

I don't think s line ever meant anything other than trim and harder suspension, ST and AMG tags used to mean hotter version

 

Hydrogen cars just went POP

13 September 2016
I was quite somewhat surprised recently when a Mercedes A class AMG sport 200cdi with twin exhaust was somewhat slower than my Focus diesel station wagon. That was until later on I looked the reg up to find it was only a 1.8 diesel with 134bhp!!

13 September 2016
I was quite somewhat surprised recently when a Mercedes A class AMG sport 200cdi with twin exhaust was somewhat slower than my Focus diesel station wagon. That was until later on I looked the reg up to find it was only a 1.8 diesel with 134bhp!!

13 September 2016
Frankly, I don't know why Autocar bothered testing this car. It so obviously isn't a model the magazine or its readers can enthuse about - and the conclusion could well have been written without even driving the car. But hang on a minute, the engine's got nearly 200 lb ft torque, and the car will max out at two-miles-a-minute. Just how fast do you want to go? Sometimes I think that a bit of perspective is needed. Sure this car is nowhere near as fast as contemporary hot hatches, but in absolute terms, I'm sure that it's fast enough to keep pace with the traffic and get some points on your driving license. The target market is probably more concerned with benefit-in-kind tax, insurance group rating - and dare I say it, fuel economy!

14 September 2016
LP in Brighton wrote:

Frankly, I don't know why Autocar bothered testing this car. It so obviously isn't a model the magazine or its readers can enthuse about - and the conclusion could well have been written without even driving the car. But hang on a minute, the engine's got nearly 200 lb ft torque, and the car will max out at two-miles-a-minute. Just how fast do you want to go? Sometimes I think that a bit of perspective is needed. Sure this car is nowhere near as fast as contemporary hot hatches, but in absolute terms, I'm sure that it's fast enough to keep pace with the traffic and get some points on your driving license. The target market is probably more concerned with benefit-in-kind tax, insurance group rating - and dare I say it, fuel economy!

A good point well made. In the real world (i.e. away from the one occupied by some journalists) why wouldn't a company car driver - who doesn't wish to give the taxman their shirt - wish to drive something that looks smart and has just enough power for the UK's camera-infested roads? This is no different in concept to the low-powered diesel "mass premium" German models that are now seemingly everywhere, irrespective of the drivers' age or socio-economic group. Just a little later to market.

13 September 2016
Still no cruise control as standard except on a titanium upwards, on a £20k car...!?!?

Pages

Add your comment

Log in or register to post comments

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • Lexus LC500
    Car review
    20 October 2017
    Futuristic Lexus LC coupé mixes the latest technology with an old-school atmospheric V8
  • Maserati Levante S GranSport
    First Drive
    20 October 2017
    Get ready to trade in your diesels: Maserati’s luxury SUV finally gets the engine it’s always needed
  • Jaguar XF Sportbrake TDV6
    First Drive
    19 October 2017
    The handsome Jaguar XF Sportbrake exhibits all the hallmarks that makes the saloon great, and with the silky smooth diesel V6 makes it a compelling choice
  • Volkswagen T-Roc TDI
    First Drive
    19 October 2017
    Volkswagen's new compact crossover has the looks, the engineering and the build quality to be a resounding success, but not with this diesel engine
  • BMW M550i
    First Drive
    19 October 2017
    The all-paw M550i is a fast, effortless mile-muncher, but there's a reason why it won't be sold in the UK