The Focus ST brings together the compact economical and utilitarian aspect that makes the car socially acceptable, along with subtle performance. This hot-hatch is one of the better sorted in a category that is typically reserved for connoisseurs and enthusiasts.
As one of the most recent additions to this highly criticized and scrutinized micro-segment, the 2013 Ford Focus ST needed to be special and check all the right boxes. 90% of the time, the ST does everything brilliantly. The other 10% of the time, it’s close.
What is a Ford Focus ST?
The Focus is one of Ford’s most popular nameplates in history. As an affordable compact car, it manages to blend good driving dynamics and utility in a handsome package.
The Ford Focus ST is the most powerful and sporty version of the car currently offered in North America. As such, expectations were very high. So Ford addressed all elements required to make the ST special.
As always, Europe receives extra goodies. In this case, it’s an estate variant of the ST whereas we only get a hatchback. I promise I won’t complain about it.
2013 Ford Focus ST Price and Specs
The 2013 Focus ST earns its keep thanks to an EcoBoost engine. The turbocharged 2.0L 4-cylinder engine is a player in a number of Ford’s current vehicles. In the ST, it produces 252 horsepower and 270 lb-ft of torque.
The only available transmission is a slick-shifting 6-speed manual with enhanced torque vectoring control driving the front wheels.
Base price for the 2013 Focus ST is $29,999. With a few options such as a power moonroof, my tester’s total rings in at $32,999.
Driving the Ford Focus ST
Taking true control of the 2013 Ford Focus ST is a two-handed job. Like most high-powered FWD car, torque steer is always present -- and I truly love it. It reminds me that driving (at least this car) remains a tactile, feel-y affair.
As the clutch is dropped and quickly latches on to the flywheel, the 2013 Ford Focus ST jets forward with little or no lag. A quick snick of the shifter into second and the race continues. The sole issue here is the oversized armrest that hampers elbow travel when cogging into even-numbered gears.
As the speedo climbs to 100 km/h (in 6.5 seconds) and beyond, keeping the wheels straight becomes less of an issue. The Focus ST stays true at this point as the 235/40YR18 Goodyear Eagle F1s clamp to the tarmac.
The ride is far from jarring, but make no mistake: this is not grandpa’s Focus. The ST’s sport-tuned independent suspension and large stabilizer bars make for a car designed to grip. The setup is track-perfect with loads of grip overall. Best of all, a little lift-off oversteer is a real possibility with this car. If brave enough (and on a track) it’s worth it…
This car’s steering speaks the same language, as it is one of the quickest and most direct of any FWD vehicle I’ve driven. The immediacy of the front wheels’ reaction is surprising at first but when driving any other car afterwards, they all feel excessively slow by comparison.
The quasi-tragic downside to the Ford Focus ST’s rapid steering is a turning radius that quickly becomes an issue especially when dealing with any semi-tight urban setting.
As with all self-proclaimed (certified in this case) performance-oriented cars, the 2013 Ford Focus ST’s brakes are up to the task; middle pedal response is instantaneous and reassuring.
Inside and out of the Ford Focus ST
The 2013 Ford Focus ST starts off as a 5-door hatchback to which HID headlamps, 18” wheels, and unique and cool centre-mounted tailpipes are added. The front fascia features a large, gaping blacked-out front grille, a complete body kit with lower valences and rocker mouldings, and a larger, more aggressive rear bumper.
The result is a car that has all the right physical elements. It seriously looks the part. Common folk may not recognize the ST as being special, but the enthusiasts do -- job well done.
The cabin starts as a regular Focus, but receives a number of ST go-faster bits. The best and most obvious are the full-leather Recaro seats, and ST-stamped steering and aluminum pedals. The interior is a well-sorted place and fully loaded.
The item I most despise about this car is described as follows by Ford: “To further amplify your aural experience, engineers channeled the lower-engine frequencies of this signature sound into the cabin.” This is bar-none, the most annoying and useless feature in any car. The drone it creates is terrible and terribly irritating. Ford: Remove it for the 2014 MY. Thanks.
Comparing the Ford Focus ST
The ST plays nicely with a number of hot hatches and compact coupes. The Mazdaspeed3 and Volkswagen GTI are two of its principal competitors.
The 2013 Ford Focus ST strikes an interesting balance of sophistication and rawness and is the better driver of the three. The next MKVII GTI may change all that…