2015 Ford Focus ST

2015 Ford Focus ST Review

A truly hot hatchback.

By: Andrew Krok

Web2Carz Contributing Writer

Published: July 23rd, 2015

The 2015 model year brings with it a slightly refreshed version of Ford's hottest hot hatch, the Focus ST. The suspension's been returned for a slightly sportier ride, and the electric power steering has been given some additional weight. There's also a new front-suspension geometry that's meant to cut down on the car's infamous torque steer. A few aesthetic modifications round out the updates for this year, and all in all, the car is more fun than it's ever been — not to mention that it's relatively capacious and surprisingly thrifty with gas. Sounds like a winning formula, right? You'd be correct.

  • Interior

    The interior has a very modern, almost European feel to it. The physical switchgear is arranged nicely, with clear delineation between HVAC and infotainment controls on the dual-layer center stack. The shifter is obstruction-free, and the steering wheel contains just the right amount of buttons — the left half manipulate the screen between the gauges, and the right half covers audio and phone controls. Atop the dashboard lies a gauge pod, which monitors boost pressure, oil temperature, and oil pressure.

    Though it feels modern, it's impossible to escape the fact that some of these materials are pretty cheap. There isn't much in the way of color variety between materials, which leaves the black interior feeling somewhat cavernous (and not in a spacious way). Most every bit of plastic is rock hard to the touch, and the gauge pod up top looks and feels like it's not necessarily installed perfectly. Even though you're spending $25,000 or more on this car, you're still playing with $17,000-car ingredients.

    Front and back, the standard cloth seats are supportive and comfortable, striking the right balance between hard and soft. We've heard that the optional Recaro sport seats can be awfully tight, especially for portlier drivers, so make sure to try out multiple seat configurations before settling down with one.

  • Exterior

    The Focus ST doesn't deviate too far from the standard, far less exciting variant. There are some larger wheels, a darker grille, sparse ST badging, and a delightful center-exit exhaust pipe. At a distance, you'd be hard-pressed to tell the Focus ST is anything special. That's good if you prefer to fly under the radar, as most spirited drivers should; if you prefer to stand out in a "look at me" sort of way, you can always opt for a bright exterior color and add some optional (and gaudy) thick racing stripes. Personally, we'd stick with the relatively low-profile shade of blue that you see here. We're also fans of the quirky fuel-filler location, just under the right rear taillight. It's a very functionally funky hatchback, and man, we dig it.

  • On the Road

    Some folks — we'll call them weirdos — like to bemoan turbocharged engines; these weirdos think they lack the visceral fun-factor found in their naturally-aspirated brethren. To that, we say, "phooey." The Focus ST is an absolute blast of a car, so long as you know what's going to happen.

    We'll get this out of the way first: Yes, it exhibits torque steer. Plenty of it, in fact. Now, it only really comes into play when you mash the gas in an attempt to pass, or in an attempt to just drive like a jerk. Then, the steering wheel will pull to the right as the vehicle attempts to crab-walk its way toward the sidewalk. Now, this can be solved with a $1,000-or-so upgrade to a mechanical limited-slip differential, a piece of equipment strangely absent from both standard and optional equipment lists. It can also be solved by gently rolling onto the throttle and not ham-fisting your way down the road. Either way, points off for not offering a factory solution, but for experienced drivers, it shouldn't be a problem at all.

    Aside from that grievance, the ST is a properly fun hatchback. The clutch is just heavy enough to feel sporty, with engagement just an inch or two away from the end of the throw, and the six-speed manual snicks between gates with a medium-length throw from a solid-feeling shift lever. Once you get into the pedal, the exhaust noise goes from a whisper to an angry growl that builds to a roar just before redline. In turns, the steering is almost preternaturally inclined, adjusting the turn angle with very small input changes from the driver.

    The suspension is a bit on the harsh side if you're stuck on crappy roads, but it more than makes up for that by providing this front-driver with a balanced ride when the going gets snappy. Body roll and dive are kept to a minimum; even with some relatively hard driving, the ST remains composed, only misbehaving when the driver wants it to.

    Folks using this for a daily driver will never grow tired of the EcoBoost motor's mid-range torque. You don't need to change gears to get pushed back into your seat; just slowly roll on the gas, let the boost build up, and start riding your wave of torque.

  • Final Thoughts

    We'd be remiss if we didn't also mention that there's still plenty of family-friendly sensibility in the Focus ST. Stay out of boost, and the car behaves no differently than your run-of-the-mill daily driver. It's also nice and easy on the gas bill, reaching and exceeding its EPA-estimated fuel economy (23 city / 32 highway) with very little conscious effort.

    Yet, at the same time, if you want to give your id a little massaging, just put your right foot into the firewall. The turbocharger builds pressure with a delightful little whistle, a bass-heavy note resonates through the cockpit, and the car will thrust itself forward with little regard for interior items that haven't been nailed down. It's fun, but it's the kind of fun that won't leave you needing to buy a second car to fulfill your familial obligations. That's the kind of fun we can get behind.

  • Specs & Price

    Engine: 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4

    Transmission: Six-speed manual

    Drivetrain Layout: Front-engine, front-wheel drive

    Power Output: 252 horsepower / 270 lb-ft

    Fuel Economy (mpg): 23 city / 32 highway

    Base Price: $24,370

    As Tested: $25,690 (incl. $825 destination)

    Available Features:

    Equipment Group 401A / ST2 Package: Cornering lamps, dual-zone automatic climate control, HID headlamps, HD Radio, Recaro leather-trimmed sport seats, satellite radio, 10-speaker Sony audio system, Sync with MyFord Touch infotainment system

    Equipment Group 402A / ST3 Package: ST2 Package, plus eight-way power driver seat, four-way head restraints, ambient lighting, heated sport steering wheel, heated exterior side mirrors, navigation, overhead console, rear armrest, keyless entry keypad

    Individual Options: Power moonroof, navigation

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