2015 Ford Focus ST Review

Ford’s Fresh Faced Hot Hatch

Michael Lewis wrote “Liar’s Poker” in 1989 after rubbing shoulders with the “big swinging dicks” working at Salomon Brothers, a Wall Street investment bank that gained notoriety for its work with mortgage-backed securities. It’s an excellent story. 

Guys like them treated money like you and I do Kleenexes. From his account, I imagine they would look at something like the upcoming Ford GT as a casual purchase and in some senses very little of that has changed.

Needless to say, I am no Wall Street banker but it’s comforting to know that there is a wealth of performance vehicles today that are remarkable in both their capability and attainability.


Halos Are For Walls, Hot Hatches Are For Garages

The Focus ST is a perfect example. Ford refreshed it this year with a new front fascia and lights along with optionally available racing stripes and wheels. The center stack is supposedly different but I only know that from reading Ford’s press literature and it gets a new “flat-bottom” steering wheel to make sure that people bigger than me can fit. Seriously, it’s a tight squeeze and I might as well represent the “lollypop guild…”

Anyway, none of that really matters because the Focus ST is still exactly what you will remember reading about in 2012 when it debuted: a rip-roaring riot of a car that really doesn’t cost much.

Ford managed to to achieve that by dropping its 2.0-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder engine into the Focus with 252 hp and 270 lb-ft of torque that should make it torturously difficult to control. Except it isn’t.


Still So Much Fun

As you might remember, the Focus ST gets something Ford called its “torque steer compensation system” that basically reduces the electric power steering assistance in the direction of the wheel. It works to nullify the side effects that come from sending entirely too much torque to the axle that is already busy governing your trajectory.

You can feel it working, too. Under hard acceleration the steering wheel twitches form side to side slightly. Like the foaming action in your toothpaste, that means it’s working and the end result is more fun than any car that starts at $25,000 should ever be.

The electronic Torque Vectoring Control system doesn’t hurt either and if you drive one of these on a closed course I’m sure you will agree. It makes hanging the hatch-end out around a corner unusually easy for a front-wheel drive car.

If track days don’t factor into either your time or money budgets (or both), rest assured that there is also plenty of street accessible performance.


Slight Improvements

And in fact, the 2015 model year ought to be even better than previous model years because Ford asked its British RS performance division for notes on how to improve the car. They came back with new front springs, sportier damper tuning and revisions to the electric power steering. I don’t notice a difference between the two, but those are details that would probably pay dividends on our test track where the post-refresh model will probably boast a quicker lap.

The optional Recaro seats are a point that most people tend to debate before buying one of these or a Fiesta ST. They come as part of the “401A Equipment Group” for $2,990 with partial leather trim or $4,680 for the 402A package that includes full leather. If you wear anything above a men’s size 38 sport coat, the Recaro seats will probably be uncomfortable after a few minutes. The seats do a good job of masking an unforgiving suspension, but only if your shoulders fit. Otherwise, the base car is generously equipped. If you really want more aggressive side bolsters, there are scores of choices in the aftermarket.


The Verdict:

You won’t ever look mature in one of these cars, but if that matters then just buy a six pack of Beck’s, a GTI and consider your life temporarily complete. But if the GTI is a mature hot hatch analogous to a slightly more expensive beer then the Focus ST is like Bud Light. It begs you to punch a key in, put your hand on the shift knob and rip it from front to back as you shotgun into the distance.

  • ClubRacer

    Looks great!

  • augie

    nice work. however, liar’s poker was actually about salomon’s mortgage backed securities group. high yield was the specialty of drexel bunham & lambert across town.

  • Luke Vandezande

    You, sir, are correct. Much as I hate to do it, I’ll amend my lede. Thanks for reading.

  • Maximania

    I actually love the styling and sound. So for me, no negatives whatsoever. If it could lose a 100 pounds or more, this would be the perfect FF hot hatch

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  • ST owner

    I have a muscular build with broad shoulders. The seats blow goats and would only fit an unfpderdeveloped man or an average woman.

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  • JeffD

    You should really research how the sound symposer works. All of the sounds that you hear, are the actual sounds from the engine. There isn’t any fake, through the speakers non-sense like BMW et al. are doing.

  • Mark S

    252 is a lot for a front wheel drive, which makes the SEAT Leon Cupra 280R that much more special since it runs 280 hp through the wheels that also govern direction. Looking to the Focus though, sounds awesome.

  • Miller

    I’m so damn stoked for the Focus RS to get here. Yeaaaaa!

  • Mike St.Clair

    The fake engine noise is absolutely terrible in the 15 GTI. Test drove one and wasn’t impressed. I personally feel VW hasn’t topped the MKV GTI yet. I currently have a 14 Mustang GT trackpack and am looking at a few new cars. Really close to getting a 15 GT PP car, but I’m wondering if I should drive this new Focus ST. I had a 14 Fiesta ST and loved it for a short while. The suspension just beat me up too much after a few months. Traded it on the 14 GT.

  • Mark S

    The MkVI was better than the MkV GTI. Not tested a MkVII yet. Am no fan of syn sound, but was not intrusive in the MkVI. If u have GT PP $, skip the ST and look at the RS.

  • Cody Beisel

    Needs a proper mechanical diff. Why the hell is honda one of the only in the segment to actually have one on their front wheel drives. Not to mention the fact the si can hit 60 almost as fast as this car and it’s down 50hp and 100 fpt. Kinda sad for the ford if you ask me.