2013 Ford Focus ST
  • 2013 Ford Focus ST
  • 2013 Ford Focus ST front 3/4 view

  • 2013 Ford Focus ST
  • 2013 Ford Focus ST front 3/4 view

  • 2013 Ford Focus ST
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  • 2013 Ford Focus ST
  • 2013 Ford Focus ST front 3/4 view

  • 2013 Ford Focus ST
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  • 2013 Ford Focus ST
  • 2013 Ford Focus ST front view

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  • 2013 Ford Focus ST
  • 2013 Ford Focus ST engine

  • 2013 Ford Focus ST
  • 2013 Ford Focus ST engine

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  • 2013 Ford Focus ST
  • 2013 Ford Focus ST interior

  • 2013 Ford Focus ST
  • 2013 Ford Focus ST interior

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  • 2013 Ford Focus ST
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  • 2013 Ford Focus ST
  • 2013 Ford Focus ST seat detail

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  • 2013 Ford Focus ST rear seats

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  • 2013 Ford Focus ST rear cargo area

Vital Stats

Engine:
Turbo 2.0L I4
Power:
252 HP / 270 LB-FT
Transmission:
6-Speed Manual
0-60 Time:
6.5 Sec (62 mph)
Top Speed:
155 MPH
Drivetrain:
Front-Wheel Drive
Curb Weight:
3,223 LBS
Seating:
2+3
Screaming Yellow Zonker



We're having a strong sense of déjà vu, and it isn't just because we find ourselves in Southern France. Yes, we've driven these very roads that drape over the region's Edenic mountains like doctors' signatures several times before. They're some of the best in the world, replete with tight switchbacks bookending snaking climbs and descents interrupted only by the occasional masochistic cyclist or tour bus. The Mediterranean vistas don't exactly suck, either.

We've even navigated some of these routes around Nice in a performance-minded Ford Focus. Two years ago, Blue Oval operatives brought us to this same area for an early drive of their C-Max people mover, spicing up the trip by giving us a short stint behind the wheel of their then-new Focus RS500, a limited edition matte-black monster marshaling a scarcely believable 345 horsepower and 338 pound-feet of torque through the front wheels. Today, though, our 2013 Ford Focus ST driving companion is toned-down but no less outré thanks to its Tangerine Scream paint.

Compared to the RS500, the ST drops a cylinder in favor of a less powerful 2.0-liter EcoBoost four generating 252 hp and 270 lb-ft. Fortunately, it's also a lot less costly, starting from just $24,495 delivered – a price that shades the far less powerful 200-hp, five-door Volkswagen GTI ($25,365). In fact, the ST is nearly as powerful as the Golf R while offering more torque (VW's all-wheel drive hot hatch registers 256 hp/243 lb ft) for a lot less money – the R starts around $35k. Subaru's AWD WRX is an interesting option, too, with more power (265 hp) but less torque (244 lb-ft) for more money ($26,345). The ST's closest natural rival, however, is the Mazdaspeed3 – ironic, as it rides atop the last-generation Focus' platform. The Mazda carries a marginally bigger stick, though: 263 ponies and 280 torques, coming in at $24,795.
2013 Ford Focus ST side view2013 Ford Focus ST front view2013 Ford Focus ST rear view

Pretty? Hardly. Effective? Indisputably.

Hot hatch grammar dictates that a model must not just be quicker, it also has to look the part. To that end, the ST will not easily be mistaken for a standard Focus, even when it isn't wearing a lurid shade of paint like this one. There's plenty to draw the eyeballs, from its Burning Man mask with gaping air intake to the side sills, shadowy throwing-star alloys and rear bumper with unique double-hexagon center exhaust finisher, not to mention the less-than-subtle rear wing. The whole works hunker down 10 millimeters closer to the tarmac than lesser Focus models, too. Pretty? Hardly. Effective? Indisputably.

The cabin of our tester carries on the exterior's golden zeal, with shouty yellow fabric inserts in the optional Recaro chairs (base ST models receive the sport seats borrowed from the Focus SE) and contrasting stitching, though charcoal is an available option. Other high-performance cues include a trio of auxiliary gauges in a dash-top binnacle, feel-good four-spoke leather-wrapped wheel, metal pedal pads, a special gearshift knob and a predictable assortment of ST badges everywhere from the aforementioned wheel to the sill plates. We find the yellow seat fabrics to be a bit, well, Pep Boys, but they do liven up what might otherwise be an overly somber interior (the headliner and pillar trim are darker on ST models as well). Besides, they grip like mad, with aggressive seatback bolstering that keeps one's torso locked in place in the tightest of corners. They're not rock-hard, either, providing a nice mix of support and compliance, though we suspect those who have stuffed away a few too many Taco Bell Doritos Locos will want to stick with the stock seats.

2013 Ford Focus ST interior2013 Ford Focus ST front seats2013 Ford Focus ST rear seats2013 Ford Focus ST rear cargo area

Significantly, the Focus ST is the first global performance model to come out of CEO Alan Mulally's One Ford blueprint. That's not just hollow marketing bluster – officials tell us the ST's dynamic bits are exactly the same in the U.S. as they are in Europe. U.S. buyers won't have to endure slightly more flaccid springs, soggier bushings, thinner anti-roll bars or even compromised tires: the 235/40R18 Goodyear Eagle F1 high-performance asymmetrical rubber is the same tire – summer only – no all-seasons here.

The ST's dynamic bits are exactly the same in the U.S. as they are in Europe.

Chief on our day's mission traveling through Provence would be to determine how successfully Ford has quelled torque steer fears in this powerful front-driver. Thanks to its innovative RevoKnuckle front suspension, the more powerful RS500 put its power down startlingly well, but there's no RevoKnuckle to be found on this car – officials tell us it was unnecessarily heavy and costly for the ST's output, and besides, advanced electronics have done the job well enough. After caning the ST over hundreds of kilometers along the Mediterranean coast, we're inclined to agree with them.

Under most conditions, torque steer is largely absent thanks to the inclusion of a compensation mechanism that detects the condition and then uses the electric power steering system to counterbalance the phenomenon, curtailing power assist in the direction the steering wheel is normally turned. You can still feel a fair bit of tugging hither and yon accelerating hard out of a tight corner, but it's not hugely pronounced or unnerving. Hau Thai-Tang, Ford's Vice President of Engineering, Global Product Development, tells Autoblog that the Blue Oval has actually intentionally left some of this sensation in – it could have curbed the condition even further through more aggressive tuning. Instead, engineers left in a hint of 10-yard fight as a subtle challenge to drivers – a reminder that they're at the wheel of a powerful, performance-minded machine.

2013 Ford Focus ST headlight2013 Ford Focus ST wheel detail2013 Ford Focus ST rear spoiler2013 Ford Focus ST taillight

Ford has included an electronic limited-slip differential, which relies on the traction control software to individually brake the front wheel experiencing deteriorating traction, diverting power to the wheel with purchase. There's also Cornering Under Steer Control, a bit of code that uses torque to induce yaw and curb plow based on estimates of the car's intended trajectory prior to the stability control system kicking in.

The steering itself has gone to an electric assist setup for improved fuel economy and emissions, and unique to the segment, it includes a variable-ratio rack that gets quicker as the steering inputs increase. To its credit, it's a system that's easy to get used to, and it's more satisfying than some early attempts at this sort of thing by BMW, say. But it should come as no surprise that it's not perfect – there's simply too much going on with the front axle to deliver heaps of feedback. Variable ratio rack, torque vectoring, e-diff, understeer control and the small matter of 270 pound-feet of torque means that you won't confuse the steering experience with a rear-drive car, even though you can rotate the ST's rump in corners by sharply letting off the throttle when the electronic stability control is in Sport mode (or sent packing entirely). Unusually, there's no sport button to summon increased steering effort or suspension firmness, but it won't be missed.

The brake pedal is no less agreeable than the throttle, with 12.6-inch discs up front and 10.7-inch rears acted upon smoothly by an easily modulated and pleasantly firm pedal. We noticed precious little deterioration on hot downhill runs, but we weren't really tromping on the brakes that much – it'll take a good track day session to really determine the worth of these binders.

2013 Ford Focus ST logo2013 Ford Focus ST badge2013 Ford Focus ST badge2013 Ford Focus ST exhaust tip

Peak torque arrives early at just 2,500 rpm, and a special turbo overboost function means that you can ride that wave all the way between 3,000 rpm to 4,500 rpm for up to 15 seconds, after which time the ECU dials back pressure in the interest of self-preservation. The 2.0T sounds good while doing it too, as Ford has included the "Active Sound Symposer" technology seen on the last Focus ST and RS to enhance the engine's in-cabin sound. The ASS (hey, we didn't name it) employs a sound tube acted upon by an electronically controlled butterfly valve that opens and closes depending on throttle input. The result is more engine sound when you want it – under hard acceleration, particularly in lower gears – and less engine drone on the freeway when you don't. Because of this sonic boom tube, engine sounds trump the exhaust note for first chair privileges, but that's alright by us. However, the 2.0-liter is utterly devoid of any turbo audio signature and the ST is surprisingly quiet from the outside, something that may or may not come as a disappointment to drivers.

Ford says 62 miles per hour should fall in about 6.5 seconds, but that feels a shade conservative to us.

The power and sound are stimulating enough that it won't be long before you find yourself bouncing gently off the ST's soft rev limiter – the engine's redline is capped at just 6,500 rpm. The four-cylinder is quick to rev, offers good midrange shove and feels ready to carry on its progress beyond 7k before the governor steps in, but them's the breaks.

Thankfully, the six-speed gearbox is a fine piece of work, with clearly defined gates and nicely short throws, and the clutch is reasonably progressive in its operation while being neither overly heavy nor light. We recently spent a week in a standard Focus manual model, and it could use the extra cog, too (hint, hint). Ford says 62 miles per hour should fall in about 6.5 seconds but that feels a shade conservative to us. Top speed is listed at 155 mph.

2013 Ford Focus ST engine

Despite having firmer springs and rubber with narrower sidewalls, the ST rode startlingly well throughout our day, though admittedly the region's road network is comprised of some very fine surfaces. It's an open question how well this Ford's front Macpherson strut/rear control blade suspension will cope with chuckholes, frost heaves and mid-corner bumps under power, as France's well-maintained roads simply refused to oblige our curiosity. We'll have to wait until we can drive an example back in the Midwest, but first impressions suggest that ride comportment – along with noise, vibration and harshness – is light years better than competition from Mazda and Subaru, likely trumping the GTI, which to this point has been the segment's bogey for ride/handling balance. Anything but a high-strung proposition, we predict the ST will make an excellent everyday driver.

Fuel economy digits aren't in yet, but Ford says it is gunning for a highway rating of at least 30 miles per gallon. We'd be a bit startled if it didn't muster at least a click or two better, however, as the Edge CUV gets 30 mpg with the same engine, and it weighs in excess of 800 pounds more than the ST. For comparison's sake, the GTI ekes out 31 mpg and it's the best of the rest.

2013 Ford Focus ST rear 3/4 view

While European-spec models like the one we drove won't vary in terms of tuning or performance from their Stateside counterparts, there will be a few changes in terms of standard features and available options. In the main, all U.S. vehicles will be equipped with cruise control (a feature that isn't even available in Europe), and models equipped with navigation will receive a larger seven-inch touchscreen than the unit seen on our tester. Also unlike Europe, MyFordTouch will come along with GPS, a feature set we'd be happy to do without.

Before you ask, no, we're not getting the wagon model, and yes, it looks sensational.

Speaking of unavailable features, before you ask, no, we're not getting the wagon model, and yes, it looks sensational. All North American STs will be sourced out of the Blue Oval's Wayne, Michigan assembly plant, and since Ford of North America doesn't even offer the standard Focus in a wagon configuration, the costs to homologate an additional bodystyle made building a business case all but impossible – especially when the automaker believes it will only shift around 9,000 STs annually in the States to begin with.

Ford says the first STs will begin arriving in dealers this September. Ostensibly, Mulally's One Ford agenda opens up the door to even more delicious offerings like a future RS variant, but officials dutifully refuse to confirm plans for an even higher-performance Focus. We're just going to have to take the liberty of looking forward to a second instance of déjà vu, hoping Ford gifts us with another opportunity to make a French connection with a hot Focus. We just hope we don't have to wait another two years.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 281 Comments
      NBor101
      • 2 Years Ago
      Make mine Performance Blue with the Recaros!
      Avinash Machado
      • 2 Years Ago
      Time for Chevy to make a Cruze SS.
        carguy1701
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Avinash Machado
        I doubt that will happen. GM has the engine (the 2.0 liter Ecotec turbo), but not the will...
          carguy1701
          • 2 Years Ago
          @carguy1701
          Ducman69: GM already said tht they weren't gonna do a Cruze SS.
          Ducman69
          • 2 Years Ago
          @carguy1701
          I don't see why not, Hyundai has the Veloster Turbo, Dodge has the upcoming Dart SRT-4, and there's of course the good ol' GTI and Mini Cooper and Fiat Abarth, etc.
          Josh
          • 2 Years Ago
          @carguy1701
          @ducman - Yeah! Stop having a vivid imagination of what the American Public want. The American public want ECOECOECOECO!
      CarCrazy24
      • 2 Years Ago
      Dammit this car looked so good, and then you mentioned that Europe is getting a wagon variant...ahh we got screwed again!
      JamesC
      • 2 Years Ago
      To those hating on this car having FWD, I drove one at a Focus ST Academy autocross event and was blown away. Tons of grip, little understeer (experienced it on very tight corners if i went in too fast) and it'll get its ass out if you try. I was very surprised as i've historically had negative experiences with FWD performance cars but this one was tons of fun. Still not quite as fun as RWD since there's some characteristics no amount of electronic wizardry will fix, unless they can somehow change the laws of physics. In summary i walked away impressed, even after going in expecting it would suck.
      viperbono
      • 2 Years Ago
      Nice car by the way! Good job Ford!!
      • 2 Years Ago
      [blocked]
        Froston13
        • 2 Years Ago
        HAHAH you are so wrong in everything you say.
        Dean Hammond
        • 2 Years Ago
        please, before you start throwing rocks check your own gene pool.............
        Justin Campanale
        • 2 Years Ago
        Wow. How do you know so much about the car already?
          carguy1701
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Justin Campanale
          If its who I THINK it is, this kind of stupidity shouldn't be a surprise.
          carguy1701
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Justin Campanale
          tipdrip215: I was thinking it was Mary Keana under another name (all of that persons comments have disappeared from other articles, suggesting they finally banned that name), but thank you for bringing up friedrice. I had forgotten about him.
          tipdrip215
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Justin Campanale
          It's just that friedrice guy back from his vacation. He just posts under different names every single time he makes a post now so he doesn't get banned.
        carguy1701
        • 2 Years Ago
        The Ralliart is slow and underwhelming (like all Mitsubishi's), the WRX is due for replacement soon, and the MS3, while the current standard bearer for the hot hatch class, DOES have nasty torque steer (and, lest you forget, uses a FORD-developed platform). Foot in mouth, much?
          Gorgenapper
          • 2 Years Ago
          @carguy1701
          Stop making the torque steer an overblown issue. It is pretty much the same kind of torque steer reported in this article - present but never intrusive. I feel it as a slight tug on the steering wheel when I floor the gas pedal, but I never, ever feel like I'm losing control.
        Matt
        • 2 Years Ago
        Yea the WRX and Ralliart aren't known for their interiors and the Speed 3 uses the last gen Focus platform. Dumbass
        NightFlight
        • 2 Years Ago
        You said this thing has a cheap interior buy you mention the Lancer and Impreza like they don't? Those two vehicles have some of the worst interiors in the C segment.
      • 2 Years Ago
      [blocked]
        Snark
        • 2 Years Ago
        Well, I'm glad you're happy with your choice of sterile, uninvolving appliance cars that happen to be reasonably but not incredibly reliable. Ford is as reliable as Toyota, but don't let that slow your roll - leave the good stuff for people who don't buy a car with the mind of an accountant.
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Snark
          [blocked]
          carguy1701
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Snark
          WMB: if by auto remanfacturing business, you mean collision repair, you do not have a leg to stand on. Toyota products get into accidents as well.
        Matthew DeCillis
        • 2 Years Ago
        And my BIL that works at a Toyota dealership as a mechanic thanks you for owning such a reliable car...so reliable that he still has a job to FIX Toyota's.
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Matthew DeCillis
          [blocked]
      • 2 Years Ago
      [blocked]
        carguy1701
        • 2 Years Ago
        The FR-S doesn't COMPETE with this, you dimbulb!
        BDolman
        • 2 Years Ago
        yeah no...
        Dane Grant
        • 2 Years Ago
        Toyota cars are mass market 'over-hyped' cheap appliances...
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Dane Grant
          [blocked]
        jtav2002
        • 2 Years Ago
        Wait to see actual tested times before you criticize. Also thats its 0-62 time, sure not a huge difference but there will still be a slight time difference 0-60. And that's just Fords number. Manufacturers numbers are always way on the conservative side. I'd be surprised if this wasn't around 6 flat or even very high 5's with a good driver.
      Mark
      • 2 Years Ago
      If only this thing came in auto..
        carguy1701
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Mark
        I think I read something about a DCT possibly coming online for the ST later on, but I cannot confirm that. Ford would be stupid to not offer a DCT, seeing as the take rate for the DSG on the GTI is like 50%..
        Froston13
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Mark
        why? learn to drive stick buddy.
          KaiserWilhelm
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Froston13
          Eat my ass, I have bad knee's and live on Long Island (most densely populated area in the country). Driving stick is the last thing on my mind.
          carguy1701
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Froston13
          Not everyone can drive stick.
          Froston13
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Froston13
          In those above cases, yes then stick with an auto. I was refferring to those who are physically able to drive a stick, should learn to do so, for their own benefit. Also, if you drive in gridlock most of the time, and want an easier drive, then yes stick with an auto.
          carguy1701
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Froston13
          Froston13: there are enthusiasts out there with medical conditions that preclude them from driving vehicle with a standard transmission.
        IBx27
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Mark
        Consumer reports is that way -->
          carguy1701
          • 2 Years Ago
          @IBx27
          Just because he wants an auto style transmission doesn't mean you have to be a dick about it. Believe it or not, there are enthusiasts out there who can't drive a standard for medical reasons.
      A_Guy
      • 2 Years Ago
      Looks like they knocked this outta the ball park, but the comment section wouldn't be complete w/out someone complaining about not have a 3-door model!
        cq_
        • 2 Years Ago
        @A_Guy
        It's REALLY is a shame they don't have 3 door focus or fiesta in the states...
        Dean Hammond
        • 2 Years Ago
        @A_Guy
        or a true limited slip, or AWD or potential brake wear or, or, or.....lol
        unfined
        • 2 Years Ago
        @A_Guy
        I think Ford should offer the 3 door. They always did in the past. Those of us that are 6 foot 3 would appreciate it. Not to mention, I think they would look better.
      Ducman69
      • 2 Years Ago
      I will be very disappointed if they can't hit 35mpg on premium or 33mpg in regular. The Veloster Turbo can manage 38mpg after all.
        Dean Hammond
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Ducman69
        you really need to get over Hyundai, there figures have been proven to be a tad "over-inflated" several times......
          Ducman69
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Dean Hammond
          According to the forums as well as the government fuel economy public poll, the regular Veloster is getting every advertised MPG and then some. But I see you are just trolling from your other comments, that or a butthurt fanboi.
          Justin Campanale
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Dean Hammond
          Do you have any sources to back up your claims, or are you just going to pull stuff out of your ass?
        Ducman69
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Ducman69
        Forgot to note that the Veloster Turbo does 38mpg on regular, and what octane fuel you are required to use is the same as a mpg difference when you're paying at the pump.
          ducman69
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Ducman69
          @ RodRAEG, what does being a Mechanical Engineering student have to do with calculating horsepower to weight ratios? I didn't bust out a calculator, I stated that they are similar, and when traction is limited a lighter vehicle with a similar power to weight ratio has an advantage. This is common sense, imagine 215mm tires acceleration a motorcycle vs 215mm tires accelerating a giant turbocharged truck with the same power-to-weight ratio... clearly the traction load is less for the lighter vehicle. And btw, I'm proud of you that you're a ME student, as I'm a ME graduate. ;)
          Gorgenapper
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Ducman69
          Why are they looking at this car instead of a BRZ? Because: - hatch? - 4 doors? - turbocharged? (more power gain potential) - slightly cheaper? - fits their lifestyle? - one car does it all? BRZ/FRS doesn't compete with hot hatchbacks.
        Dean Hammond
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Ducman69
        what I really find surprizing is your comaparison of specs between a 1.6 turbo with 201 hp that gets better ( according to manufacturer specs ) mileage than a larger 2.0 252hp larger car...weird that, how was Physics class?....
          Dean Hammond
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Dean Hammond
          or should I say Mechanical Engineer GRADUATE?.....shame on you ducman, shame on you.....
        Justin Campanale
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Ducman69
        To be honest, the Veloster is a smaller car with a smaller engine and less power. They aren't in the same class.
          Dean Hammond
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Justin Campanale
          well thats obvious to anyone not named Ducman....but hey....
        Dean Hammond
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Ducman69
        what does the Mazda get, and the VW GTI....?.......
          Dean Hammond
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Dean Hammond
          holy crap, judging by the vote-downs Im guessing Ducman has multiple screen-names......
      Lastchance
      • 2 Years Ago
      I would take a GTI or WRX over this an day even if they are more money. The reasoning...first its fugly. Second it is a Ford with lousy resale value, third it's a Ford so it will be in the shop more than on the street.
        Snark
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Lastchance
        It amuses me that you think a friggin' Volkswagen is going to be more reliable.
          NightFlight
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Snark
          I laughed at that as well.
          carguy1701
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Snark
          VW's are just as reliable as anything else. The thing with German cars (even VWs) is that you HAVE to stick to the maintenance schedule, otherwise something breaks out of spite.
        Froston13
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Lastchance
        Fords new vehicles could be pretty well built with good reliability. Generally newer cars are much more reliable than they were even a decade ago, with the exception of complex electronics. BTW the GTi is the same price as the ST. If you value performance above all else and like AWD, get the WRX. They are pretty reliable as well, provided you dont mod the crap out of it and abuse it hard. GTI's arent quite as reliable, but still they are more reliable than ever before. If u want the highest refinement, luxury, and overall smoothness with good (but not up to WRX/MS3 levels) performance, get the GTI. I would wait to test drive the ST before passing judgment though.
        v8eater
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Lastchance
        True
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