MF Reader Review: Focus ST (UK)

To clearify for our US readers, the Focus ST is the high-end sporty version of the new Focus that US market won’t be getting. Now, on with the reader review:

Ford bought down it’s 2 ST’s. Two different specs, the ST2 & ST3. After a positive introduction to the models and a “can you please give me some feedback, positive or negative, the engineers want to know.” I was ready to go.

I was initially disappointed the 2 cars were neither in what I would call the ‘ST colour,’ some sort of caustic tangerine orange. I got a red one and a blue one. All the models have the same engine, same gearbox, same suspension, etc. The only difference being is the ST1 did not have ESP. This cannot be ordered by dealers without an order in place and Ford said they were not planning on pushing it in the UK. The spec improved up the numbers, but I hardly noticed. Time to drive.


I was quite aware of the Focus chassis as being of safe and sound mind, so I guess I was expecting the ST to be just another Focus with a Turbo charged 2.5 litre engine thrown under the bonnet (and a stiffened suspension.) Sadly, I was not disproved. The first thing I noticed was how quiet it was inside the cabin, Focus LX/Ghia quiet. Now some of you may get a excited about driving in the warm co’zzz’ey quietness of a mothers womb, but I like my sportier cars to talk to me (alot!) The ST has to be severley thrashed to sound like it’s doing the business on the outside, inside.

The handling was good, for a Focus, a bit of torque steer to remind you it’s putting 225bhp onto the front wheels. Quite sharp handling around some tricky bends, but it still felt like it wanted to understeer when under power, causing me to lay off the pedal.

0-60 in 6.5. I was way way over that before I checked the speedo. Why? It didn’t feel like it was getting there. The sound proofing had taken away the joy of moving on up the clock, no whine, no dump noise, no gears in action.


On the next run, I had the windows down, and this was more like it! Growl, thump-hiss, there was an engine proud to have Ford stamped on it! The exhaust meant business, and sounded like a bulldog with acid.

So, to conclude. The ST is not the ground breaking ‘sportier’ car I had hoped would change my initial thoughts. It was fast, handling was ok and it looked the part with it’s ST alloys. But, it’s not a drivers car. It’s a Focus at heart, waiting to join the ranks of boyracers up and down a country near you.

– Jon Roberts

Oh, the feedback. He didn’t want to know.

If you’d like to write a review for MotoringFile or have one lying around that is MotoringFile worthy, send it in via the contact link at the top of the page.

  • Jack07734

    I find it sad that Ford hasn’t the vision to bring any of the hot versions of the Focus to thier home market.

    Cheers, Jack

  • Wraith

    now why aren’t they selling that focus over here. i’m not even talking about the ST it self, but that new three door body style looks great, much, much better than what we have here.

  • Ballardini

    I’m liking that MF seems to be heading towards more of a Auto Journalism site with it’s main focus on the world of the MINI. If this is true …Bravo. It would be nice if these articles still had comparisons to the MINI though.

    Why not more product reviews, not just performance parts, and more of those spotlights on MINI owners that have been done but including owners from around the world. Maybe nterviews with someone from JCW Etc. Truly more than enough talent here for anything. But you probably have your hands full as it is.

    The MINI, 911, Mustang are Icons the Focus is not, Ford needs to quit with the Bold New Graphics and get on with it. IMHO.

  • tim

    Personally I could care less if Ford brings a car like this here to the US or not. There’s no way I’d ever want another Ford. I’ve had a few over the last 15 years. Not one was reliable, the service from every Ford Dealership was incredibly unprofessional or satisfactory and the over feeling left was one that is so bad I’d buy a YUGO before a Ford in a heart beat.

    My Mini eats Focus’ and poops Aspires.


  • 05DSMCS


    I second that. I’ll never buy a Ford again.

  • Their reputation is completely different overseas.

    Maybe they’ve always had better build versions & dealer service. ?

  • Sean Bartnik

    It’s also worth noting that the current European-market Focus is based on the Mazda 3 platform, which seems to have been universally praised by the automotive press for being a decently sporting chassis.

    The Ford Focus currently being sold in the U.S. has had a facelift recently but is still based on the original Focus chassis which is a bit long in the tooth by now. When did the Focus debut, late ’90s?

    That concludes today’s note from your MotoringFile pedant.

  • Good review. Jeremy Clarkson seem to really have a blast with the ST in a recent Top Gear review. I’m sure Ford did a great job with it and it would be at a decent price point (23-25) if it were here in the US.

    When the focus debuted in late 1999, it was a huge leap for small inexpensive cars. Ford knocked all the competiton out of the water, and the focus really had good fun handling, something that wasn’t familiar in a $12000 car. The focus was my first car, and the MINI was the natural progression for me, taking the great handling and precise steering in the same direction (just 100x further).

    Now the others have caught up and the focus is no longer anything special in the US. The euro focus has been out for a while and the only version we see of that here is the excellent mazda3. Focus fans have been burned by ford for years now by leaving the US with the outdated platform. Maybe they want to give the Crown Vic a run for its money!

  • greg

    A Ford Fucus? I wiped my backside with a $35K T-Bird and dumped it after 10k because it was the worst car I ever bought. I don’t care what this car does or looks like. NO MORE FORDS.

  • Ballardini

    After my 1986-7 Ford Aerostar I will probably never go back, but won’t say never. Once you have reached my age you find that never turns out to be a very short period of time.

  • David

    It’s telling that Ford is adapting its platforms from Mazda and not the other way around. Ford just doesn’t have much going for it right now. (Mustang doesn’t count, just like Chevy’s Vette).

    My GF just bought a Mazda3 5-door. I’ve driven it and it really is a sporting vehicle. It corners better than I expected and is definitely one of the better looking small cars out today.

  • Nathaniel Salzman
    When the focus debuted in late 1999, it was a huge leap for small inexpensive cars. Ford knocked all the competiton out of the water, and the focus really had good fun handling, something that wasn’t familiar in a $12000 car.

    If by competition you mean the Chevy Cavilier and the Dodge Neon, then yes I’ll agree with you there. But you’re forgetting about a little car made by Honda called the Civic – a 300,000 mile lifetime car, pushing 40 mpg, that you could pitch around just about any corner at will. Though the Civic now has jumped up a notch in initial price and class, it’s proven itself over the years as a very quick and agile car – not to mention forget-about-it reliable. Aside from the original Mini, the Civic defined the small, quick econo-car and US automakers have been playing catch-up ever since it caught on in the 80’s. The Focus was simply Ford’s first instance of getting close. Sure it drives better than the Neon, but all of those cars are still fighting the battle for 3rd place in that category.

    Interesting review, but the Focus isn’t anywhere on my car-buying radar, no matter how much bhp it has. Ford is decades behind in engineering and even further in refinement – especially compared to the MINI.

  • IanF

    Hmm.. we may indeed see a version of this car. In the form of the upcoming Volvo C30.

  • The C30’s got some fluid sexiness.

    Better looking (in spyshots) than the A3 hatch… But that didn’t take much imagination.

  • Great review – on the subject of Ford could someone give us a Mustang v Mini comparison for us non-US car lovers. To everyones amazement they do not sell the Mustang over here in the UK and boy we sure wished they would!

  • IanF

    Hmm… Mustang vs. MINI… now THERE’S a comparison I’ve been wanting to do… an excuse to go test drive a new Mustang GT… and an ’06 MCS…

    But… I’m pretty sure there’s a guy over on NAM who has an MCS as well as a new Mustang GT.

    Has the Mustang ever been sold in the UK?

  • Ballardini

    I’m surprised he even knew they existed.

  • The Mustang has never been sold in the UK. The only reason that I can think off for the lack of a UK Mustang is UK fuel prices. Ford may feel that the large engines placed in the Mustang line up would cost a fortune to run in the UK. Other possible reasons could be the suspension set-up or the fact that in the UK the coupe market is domainted by prestigous marks such as Audi and BMW. Overall it is really hard to tell why the Mustang is not sold in the UK. Fortunately US importers are bringing plenty to the UK but with the unfortunate disadvantage of being lefty’s – come on Ford do you homework!!!!!


    Seems your reasoning that because the Mustang is a gas guzzler, as you call it, doesn’t hold water:

    Both mustangs run on Reg petrol which is way cheaper than your Super Grade.

    Ford Mustang (6cyl)…………..19/28 Ford Mustang (8cyl)…………..17/25


    Ford Fusion (4cyl)…………….23/31 (regular petrol)

    Vauxhall Vectra (wagon) ( 4 Cyl)…….29/general ( not sure of petrol grade?)

    I’m sure there are more, um, “British” cars out there but I’ve wasted enough time on this.

    (all on Premium)

    BMW 325ci (6 cyl) ……………20/25 Audi A4 3.1 (6 cyl)…………..19/27 Audi S4 Avant (8cyl)…………15/21 Land Rover LR3 (6cyl)………14/19

    I separated these as they are much higher end cars but the Audi & BMW are closer to the ‘Stang in general size and engine configuration. And yes I know the Audi & BMW are finer cars.

    High end…………………………………………..

    Aston Martin Vanquish………11/17 Masserati Cambiocorsa………12/19 Bently Continental GT…………12/19 Bently Arnage……………………10/14 Bently Arnage LWB……………..10/14 Mercedes-Benz E55 AMG…….15/21

    So I guess if you’re really hard up the few more miles per gallon you might get would cause you to not buy the ‘Stang but then there’s the gas cost factor.

    As far as the “Lefty ” Righty” thing goes…I thought it was fun driving on the wrong side of the car in Jamaica and would still have bought the MINI had it been a “Righty.”

    As far as your comment on USA cars….most of “your” car companies are owned by GM or Ford who supply cars for your market, which I think is smart.

    Caio Bella

  • Jesse J

    If by competition you mean the Chevy Cavilier and the Dodge Neon, then yes I’ll agree with you there. But you’re forgetting about a little car made by Honda called the Civic – a 300,000 mile lifetime car, pushing 40 mpg, that you could pitch around just about any corner at will. Though the Civic now has jumped up a notch in initial price and class, it’s proven itself over the years as a very quick and agile car – not to mention forget-about-it reliable. Aside from the original Mini, the Civic defined the small, quick econo-car and US automakers have been playing catch-up ever since it caught on in the 80’s. The Focus was simply Ford’s first instance of getting close. Sure it drives better than the Neon, but all of those cars are still fighting the battle for 3rd place in that category

    I’m going to assume you’ve never driven a C170 Focus. Flashback to 1999. Take a stock Civic EX coupe, and a stock Focus ZX3. Driving them back to back, the Focus was much more nimble and agile than the Civic. Where was the Civic when the Focus was winning tons of awards that year? Motor Trend 10Best? European Car of the Year? North American Car of the Year?

    Yes, the Civic is more reliable. But in terms of the chassis’ handling characteristics, the Focus can easily take it in the twisties.



    I was only comparing Euro cars in England as a counter point to this Mark’s comments…….

    I was trying to equate cars more in line with the overall size and engine size…and was also factoring in the Euro cost of fuel.

    I know there are cars that are faster and get way better mileage and, of course, corner better the Mustang, it being more of a straight line typical US product. Plus I assume if the ‘Stang ever did make it over there it would be in the price range of the A4 or 325, unless the $ keeps dropping.

    The High End stuff was just for fun.


    PS…….I am American but I don’t bother with US cars. The last good one I had was a 1957 Ford Country Squire Estate Wagon.

  • OrangeMini

    This does look like a rip of the Volvo C30 with all the mojo sucked out of it. I won’t look at owning a ford again, let alone a Volvo knock off.

    PS……I am American as well and don’t bother with US cars. I am disturbed by the Americanization of foreign brands. Ford making a crappy product then buying a good foreign company and turning their product crappy to make theirs look better isn’t my idea of good business.

  • Bartmack

    I have both a 2006 Mustang GT and a 2005 MCS, and there’s at least 1 other guy on NAM with both as well. FWIW I get 11 mpg with the Mustang, but I sure do love the sound it makes burning all that gas!! =) At least it uses regular and not premium.

  • Tom

    While I don’t doubt that several people have had issues with individual US-built Fords, it’s problematic building a case on anecdote. I don’t believe the statistics (Power, CR, etc) support the thesis that in aggregate new Fords are particularly unreliable – performance is more mid-pack. Ford has come a long way since the dark days of the late ’70s and early ’80s when all of Detroit produced some amazing crap bombs. We in the Mini fold should be careful not to throw too many rocks at Ford as the aggregate statistics suggest that Mini quality in the first couple of build years was terrible and while it has been trending better, it’s still a far cry from Toyota league. Would you expect a new Mini to arrive with fewer defects and to develop fewer issues in the first five years of ownership than (for sake of argument) an 06 Mustang? I for one wouldn’t, though I can’t back that up with statistics. Yet. Part of the issue is that the Mini is trying to do so much more – it’s loaded with whizzy electronics that can (and do) go wrong. Mini seats and some interior bits are also pretty fragile, and there are a host of well-known Mini problem areas (steering racks, convertible tops, CVTs, dash rattles, to name but four) that still seem much more likely to cause trouble than the more conventional – but generally bulletproof – equivalent parts in a Mustang. In short, while I think it’s fair to rip Ford for building too many dull cars, I’m not convinced they do a poor job of screwing them together. Ford’s internal numbers show excellent progress on quality that is not reflected in public opinion – partly a hangover of mistakes of decades ago, but partly because the public seems more willing to overlook defects by the likes of BMW even when they are more numerous and more serious. The quality numbers for Jaguar vs BMW have been stunningly in Jaguar’s favor for a few years, for example, but try convincing John Q Public of that …

  • Funny…those talking about how the civic is a better car than the focus…how it handles better. You have obviously never driven a focus, or read the specs on it. Take “Top Gear” for instance. They raced the Focus RS (170bhp) against a Subaru Legacy AWD on a road course and the focus won by over 3 seconds…3 SECONDS! It destroyed a Civic SI by 4-6 seconds…

    And dang…there are some stupid comparisons… “My Aerostar was a piece of crap…so Ford sucks…” Jeez. I think the entire world population has voiced their agreement that the Ford Aerostar was a piece of crap…and the majority of people agree about the (new version) Thunderbird sucking pretty bad as well. (The early nineties versions can destroy a lot of cars…A T-Bird with a V8 and supercharger is a monster)

    Compared to the Mini? Pfft. Let’s compare the taste of a hamburger to a steak…that makes sense…right? A car that can be purchased new for under 14k to a car that is over 20k (S-Version of course…American Dollars) Yeah…the Mini is a better car! But 10k better? That’s your call…but I’ll stick with my 05 Focus with 128hp (wheels…stock), and the money left over for a turbo kit that can easily shoot the car to 250hp no problem, and a suspension that pulls up to 1g or more…all for less than a new Cooper-S without the higher insurance costs.

    (BTW: I still love the Cooper-S…I just get annoyed at stupid comparisons, and occasionally go off on soapbox tirades…sorry.)

  • Reply to LTZMTOR

    I think you are perhaps being a little touchy – in numerous UK car magazines they have suggested that Ford canned the idea of a UK Mustang for fuel reasons. Furthermore I should note that I love the Mustang and I was not proclaiming anything. I also think you need to start thinking a little as whilst you correctly name numerous cars with poor fuel economy (incidently none of which are UK you twit)what I am actually referring to is the sky high price of fuel in the UK – and not the fact that the Mustang drinks the juice!

    Finally I made no comment on the ownership of car companies – but as you brought it up the majority of UK car companies are not owned by US companies so perhaps you should check your facts first. Go to and find the related article from their news section.

    Go back to Jamaica!

  • Nice to see some people come to Ford’s rescue. BTW as per normal MF rules, let’s try to keep this civilized if we can.

    Cheers, Gabe


    Sorry Gabe I did go over the line.

    This “gentleman” berates people, articles, countries, etceteras and most of his arguments are lame, mean spirited or negative.

    So Buddy…. have at it as I won’t allow myself to drawn to your level again.

    BTW….I went to AutoExpress and found NADA, maybe you can post the the article you mentioned on British car companies and their British ownership?

    Jaguar, Land Rover, Aston Martin….Ford


    Rolls, Riley, Austin, MINI…………………….BMW

    Is the Thames still around? I guess I missed the rest of them.

    Plus, my comments earlier were only to say…seems the mileage for the Mustang “Compared” to other “like” cars ain’t so bad and to say… Seems US manufacturers are supplying cars to your market.

    Glad you like the ‘Stang, I think it could have been way better.

  • john

    To Ltzmtors’ rely to the UK Ford Focus article, see below.

    Ltzmtor I have been following your debate with Mark with interest and have come to the conclusion that you are a xenophobiac and extremist nationalist. Particularly worrying is your geeky knowledge of the fuel consumption of certain cars – get a life. Also you got some of your facts wrong because BWM was never a British company which was bought over by an American company. Your tirade against British cars (admittedly there are not many cars in British ownership now) is laughable since American cars are trash and no one buys them outside of their own country.

    Ignorant Yank!


    Wow that’s an impressive tirade! You should be proud……but………….

    I love British cars, I have owned 5, 1 Swedish and 7 German.

    I wasn’t bad mouthing British people as I have quite a few British friends.

    I never said anything about BMW being British nor about any US company owning BMW.

    My posting of British car company ownership was in response to this…”Go to and find the related article from their news section” by another poster. I could never find the article and was hoping he would post a link to the article showing which British car companies were actually, as he claimed, owned by you folk. Please correct my list if I was wrong.

    If you had actually read any of my posts you would have seen that I wasn’t slamming anybody just trying to get some facts straight.

    I haven’t owned a US car since college, 1969.

    If I offended any British people by any of my postings….Sorry… it was not meant that way.

    I didn’t call anybody “Twit” or imply they were “Ignorant”, as was 1st said to and about me. So wow not sure where you got all that……LOL Man.

    The focus article was a good read sorry I got so side tracked.


    Oh and 5 Japanese vehicles.

  • Jon Roberts

    I told Gabe I wouldn’t post, as I wrote article, and it would seem a bit partisan. However, ‘john’ please lighten up, I can’t really see any offence in the post on either fuel consumption (that’s completely relevant, it’s a motor website) or pointing out that we (being a Brit myself) couldn’t keep hold of a single motor company. How that is portrayed and presented does not escape the facts. That’s the author of the posts right. “xenophobiac and extremist nationalist” ?? You might want to try “ILoveTalkingAboutPolotics.Com


    Jon Roberts

  • I have been watching this debate carefully and completely agree with Mark and John!

    Ltzmor has missed the point that was being put accross by Mark, meaning that his comments have been half baked. He was only trying to make a genuine comment in relation to something completely different – namely the extortionate price of fuel in the UK. Keep the anti UK patter to yourself!


    Okay – we have taken this too far and I am sorry for the harsh remarks, however, you did provoke me by taking everything that I said out of context. Whilst I may have overstepped the line all I am saying is that in future if someone makes a genuine car related comment do not take it so badly and go off on a rant that will set others off. If you look back you say that you are not being offensive when clearly you are.

    Lets forgive and forget and keep it to the cars from now on (I include myself in this regard).

    Thanks M


    No Comment.

  • Okay you win!

  • Pingback: » Woofcast #42()

  • Back on topic, the reasons behind Ford not making the European focus worldwide are the reasons that Ford is failing as a company. There cannot be any ‘good’ reason that they make 2 different versions of what is intended to be the same car. It doesn’t make sense.

  • Gary

    I have been following your debate on Focus ST. Now between my wife and i, we own both a Mini Cooper S and the latest ST2 thats with ESP. Now it terms of value for money the Mini is no where close to being that, for a little 1600cc and its impracticality, I bought it cause it was one of my fist cars i owned back in the day. As far as a hot hatch goes after many comarions its not even close to the latest Focus ST in both refinment and perfomance. It is much better put together than the Mini and out performs the Mini in many departments let alone outright performance. The Focus ST is a true all round performaer something the mini will never be. But dont get me wrong I love our mini but its not what you would call bang for buck vs the allrounded Focus ST as everyday car for any situation. As far as reliabilty I have had the previous ST too and really had no worries with reliability besides my tires. Yes Ford has made a few dodgy vehicles but with this latest reange of Focus, its really done a good job. Oh by the way the lastest Focus ST was rated best perfomance hot hatch in its class including the Mini JCW which ended up 5th. Like I said the Mini is great and I am planning to buy the turbo version when it lands here in March 2007….but I will def buy an RS should one be made

  • Hi, I’ve been reading these posts with interest too. I have a focus ST3 on order with Ford and it will be coming in a couple of weeks. I also owned a 1.6 supercharged Mini Cooper S for a year so I will write a comparison as soon as I get a chance.

  • Huh?

    So, here’s an idea. Maybe car manufacturers are in the business of making money, not sense. Sell the Mustang in the UK, what happens to its image in the US? Try selling an All-American car that is also produced for a country we won freedom from. Talk about destroying a product’s image. Do not assume these kinds of actions are dictated by overly simple reasoning, i.e. fuel usage. Dodge Neon not a comparison? Check out their history in SCCA racing. It sure is easy to make the Focus ST look good when you compare it to base models of the competition. Just my 2 cents.

  • Rich T Biscuit

    got my ST ordered and I can’t wait to take her for a spin. Its been a while but finally a car to be excited about that you can actually own without having to sell your body for! 😀


  • Jon

    I have never read so many dumb ass replies in all my life……nobody knows what they are talking about lol

  • Neill Stratton

    Just had a read of this lengthy debate (which at times seemed more UK vs US!) So just thought i’d add my “2 cents”.

    Firstly, im from the UK and i have just taken delivery of a new focus st2, and i have to say, it’s awesome. I have had a mini cooper s for just over a year and was very very sad to see it go. It was a fantastically fun car, good performance and build in general, but basically just great fun to drive! Can’t say i totally agree with all comments on build quality as I have had several problems with my mini, although i know people with same aged model and some had no problems at all, some had more. Luck of the draw, maybe mine was a “friday afternoon” build?!

    Either way the focus is a better car by far. Fair enough it doesn’t have the character of the mini, but it handles better, feels better built, and performance wise..well it leaves the cooper s standing. I challenge anyone here to find me evidence of a standard cooper s beating an st in any straight run or track race.. you simply won’t find it.

    As for the Mustang.. i would love one, the main reasons for me changing from a cooper s to the st is primarilly power and performance, but im also 6’3″ so the mini wasn’t that practical. And the mustang has power and more importantly oodles of what i like to call “Grrr”. But as others have said it just doesn’t fly over here.

    Only a select few would actually buy one, I have seen only a few on English roads. (but they do sound lovely!) The problem though is two fold:

    1) American cars have very bad press in the UK, they are slated for cheap build quality, as Richard Hammond said of the H2 Hummer “the interior is made out of a wheelie bin”. They are also renound for terrible handling, the impression you get is America has no corners, just straight roads! Where as we have the opposite.

    2)You guessed it – Fuel, us brits are totally raped when it comes to fuel prices! it is quite ridiculous! So for those people who can afford to run a car which returns 10mpg, well they generally dont buy mustangs, they buy aston martins, bentlys, royce’s etc. Something like a Rousch mustang will set you back a good £40k, thats like $80k. Now i don’t really know, but im sure it wouldn’t cost $80,000 in the states?!! So we don’t really get value for money!

    Anyways thats my rant.

    Next year im getting my dream car – Tvr Sagaris, now that is a car the US can only dream of! 60mph in 3.6 and an exhaust note that would make a child scream in terror.

    Look for clarksons review of it on youtube or something, you will catch my drift…

  • MQuin

    that looks like the volvo c30………

  • Adrian

    I own an 06 Ford Focus Hatch and I am wondering why they can’t get around all the regulations and get some sportier Focus’ over here in the states. That might be one reason why they are having so many financial problems as is, but… Meet the demands of the drivers and vehicles will sell!

  • randalize

    That was a crap review, yes it sounds quiet inside but ford made this car for use with everyday users too.