2015 Ford Focus ST Review

Luke Vandezande
by Luke Vandezande

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.


Engine: 2.0L turbocharged four-cylinder makes 252 HP, 270 lb-ft of torque
Transmission: six-speed manual
Fuel economy: 23 MPG city, 32 MPG highway, 26 average
Price: Starts at $25,195. $30,865 as-tested.

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.


  • Power
  • Cornering grip
  • Precise steering
  • Affordable fun


  • Juvenile styling
  • Fake engine noises are lame
Luke Vandezande
Luke Vandezande

Luke is an energetic automotive journalist who spends his time covering industry news and crawling the internet for the latest breaking story. When he isn't in the office, Luke can be found obsessively browsing used car listings, drinking scotch at his favorite bar and dreaming of what to drive next, though the list grows a lot faster than his bank account. He's always on <A title="@lukevandezande on Twitter" href="http://twitter.com/lukevandezande">Twitter</A> looking for a good car conversation. Find Luke on <A title="@lukevandezande on Twitter" href="http://twitter.com/lukevandezande">Twitter</A> and <A title="Luke on Google+" href="http://plus.google.com/112531385961538774338?rel=author">Google+</A>.

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3 of 13 comments
  • Mike St.Clair Mike St.Clair on Aug 15, 2015

    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 Mark S on Aug 15, 2015

      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 Cody Beisel on Sep 01, 2015

    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.