2015 Ford Focus ST First Test
Focus ST Ready for America
The Ford Focus ST comes in variety of flavors in Europe. There is a gas model, a diesel one, and, of course, a wagon version. Automotive journalists would likely pass out from the excitement of a diesel wagon Focus ST coming to America, but most of the United States would not. As a nation, we are over wagons. They can stay over there. Consumers don't buy them here.
Despite that small but vocal group's desire for a diesel sports wagon (might as well throw in a manual transmission, too), Ford will only offer the Focus ST in America with a gas engine — but you still get a manual. But it's still quite the engine under that nicely stamped hood. The 2.0-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder engine produces 252 hp and 270 lb-ft of torque. That's plenty of power for a 3,233-pound five-door.
Recently, Motor Trend got to test the American-spec Focus ST model. Around the same time, I got to drive the European version in Geneva. The good news for everyone is there are very few differences between the two gas models. The fourth-generation Focus ST is the same worldwide.
There are some minor front-end adjustments so the Euro Focus ST can comply with different pedestrian crash tests. The American model will also arrive with slightly bigger brakes (12.8-inch front rotors and 10.6-inch rear) and optional all-season 18-inch tires, as well as Goodyear Eagle F1 summer tires. The European Focus ST has 19-inch wheels. Additionally, all Euro Focus STs come with Recaro seats, whereas U.S. Focus ST customers can choose less expensive seats for base options. Personally, I'd opt for the summer tires and the Recaro seats -- if you're going to buy this car, get the complete package.
But for all intents and purposes, the European Focus ST and the American Focus ST are the same car. Did you read that? The same car. Both have that great-looking hood and steep windshield. Both have that rear spoiler integrated to the top of the liftgate. Both have a flat steering wheel and three additional gauges on top of the dash. They will eat up any twisty road with sharp steering, a well-planted body, and a fantastic six-speed manual transmission that clicks, clicks, clicks right through the gears.
Ford posted some impressive numbers when it launched the ST in Europe, citing its top speed at 154 mph and a 0-62-mph time of 6.5 seconds. Motor Trend confirmed that this car remains quick, nimble, and ready for any continent. The Focus ST managed 6.3 seconds in Motor Trend 0-60 testing and a 14.8-second quarter mile topping out at 94.3 mph. Hard cornering was also not a problem for the Focus ST, which averaged 26 seconds at 0.73 g on the figure eight and a lateral acceleration of 0.92 g. It stopped from 60 mph in 108 feet.
Numbers, however, don't fully define the Focus ST, which feels quicker and more stable on the road. Even during a rainy afternoon around Geneva, the Focus ST felt like it was on rails going through some corners. The short throws on the manual transmission add to the car's sportiness, and the Recaro seats hold you firmly in place. There remains some torque steer, pulling hard to the right when you stomp on the accelerator from a standstill, but it is easy enough to adjust to. The rest of the time, the Focus ST feels like a $30,000 race car.
More important, the ST doesn't leave your fillings loose during an afternoon of lead-footed driving. The chassis is stiff but not overly so. The ride is comfortable, and the Focus ST could easily serve as a daily driver. The second row has lots of space, and the hatch makes loading everything from groceries to a flatscreen television easy. Just make sure to tie everything down once you load it up; things may shift when you hit a hot corner. That's true in Europe and America and everywhere else the Focus ST will be sold. Perhaps this car will help some of those diesel-wagon hangers-on finally let go of that idea. They should. The Focus ST is just fine the way it is.
|2015 Ford Focus ST|
|PRICE AS TESTED||$30,070|
|VEHICLE LAYOUT||Front-engine, 5-pass, 4-door hatchback|
|ENGINE||2.0L/252-hp*/270-lb-ft* turbo DOHC 16-valve I-4|
|CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST)||3,233 lb (60/40%)|
|LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT||171.7 x 71.8 x 58.4 in|
|0-60 MPH||6.3 sec|
|QUARTER MILE||14.8 sec @ 94.3 mph|
|BRAKING, 60-0 MPH||108 ft|
|LATERAL ACCELERATION||0.92 g (avg)|
|MT FIGURE EIGHT||26.0 sec @ 0.73 g (avg)|
|EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON||23/32/26 mpg|
|ENERGY CONS., CITY/HWY||147/105 kW-hrs/100 miles|
|CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB||0.74 lb/mile|
|*On 93 octane fuel|