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Expert Rating

Ford Focus ST

Our unique Expert Rating Index combines scores from 30 of the top UK motoring websites to give you a definitive rating on every new car

Expert Rating

Ford Focus ST

(2019 – present)

    Summary


    The Ford Focus ST has long been the ‘sensible’ performance version of the mass-selling hatchback range, a true ‘hot hatch’ with extra potency but not quite to the outlandish standards of the Focus RS. The all-new fourth generation model launched in 2019 is no longer just a hot hatch – today the range includes an estate, a diesel engine and even an auto-gearbox version.

    The basic recipe is the biggest engine – a 2.3-litre petrol of 280hp or 2.0-litre diesel of 190hp – and lots of additions to emphasise the sportiness. These include bespoke front and rear bumpers and grille, bigger spoilers, sporty suspension, Recaro seats, stainless steel scuff plates – you get the picture…

    Generally testers like the ST – Auto Express dubs it “a terrific all-rounder, ranking among the very best hot hatches on the market”. However they add criticisms, mainly over the car’s expensive starting price.

    Reviewers point out that rivals offer more power for less money, and better in-car technology, but where the Focus ST fights back is in its excellent handling, long a Ford plus point. Evo says that “with an entertaining chassis and punchy (yet controllable) power delivery, it’s become a much easier car to recommend.”

    Ford claims bespoke styling for the Focus ST but testers disagree, Top Gear commenting that “the new Focus’s panels are too billowy for the road-sucking stance and taut purpose we want in a hot hatch.”

    Top Gear is also less than impressed with the diesel, dubbing it “definitely the second-string powertrain” even if Ford pleads that it is more powerful and twice as torquey as the original Focus ST petrol engine. And several testers conclude that without bold visual styling the ST is “too normal most of the time”.

    As of June 2022, the Ford Focus ST holds an Expert Rating of 76% from 28 different reviews. That’s one point below the regular Ford Focus range, but a whopping 11 points below its little brother, the highly-rated Fiesta ST.

    Focus ST highlights

    • Potent performance
    • Excellent handling
    • Docile when pace not needed
    • Improved quality and refinement

    Focus ST lowlights

    • Pricey
    • Steering not natural
    • Not visually aggressive enough
    • Rivals offer better in-car tech

    Key specifications


    Body style: Five-door hatch and estate
    Engines: petrol, diesel
    Price: From £30,255 on-road

    Launched: Summer 2019
    Last updated: Summer 2020
    Replacement due: TBA


    Media reviews


    Reviews, road test and comparisons from across the UK automotive media. Click any of the boxes to view.

    Auto Express

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    Autocar

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    Car

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    Car Keys

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    Carbuyer

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    Carwow

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    Company Car Today

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    Daily Mirror

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    Evo

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    Honest John

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    Parkers

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    The Sun

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    The Telegraph

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    Top Gear

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    What Car?

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    Which?

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    Safety rating


    Independent crash test and safety ratings from Euro NCAP

    Overall score: 5 stars
    Date tested: September 2019
    Read the full Euro NCAP review

    Adult protection: 96%
    Child protection: 87%
    Vulnerable road users: 72%
    Safety assist: 75%

    While the specific Ford Focus ST has not been tested by Euro NCAP, the overall Focus range was last tested in 2019 and the top five-star rating earned applies to all models. Testers praised the active safety systems while in the impact tests all scores were at least marked as ‘adequate’ and most ‘good’, with maximum scores in several areas 

    More safety recognition

    Eco rating


    No eco rating

    As of June 2022, the Ford Focus ST has not yet been lab tested by Green NCAP. If the Focus ST is put through the Green NCAP lab testing programme, we will publish the results here.

    Reliability rating

    MotorEasy logo 600x167

    The Ford Focus range, including the ST model, is below average for reliability with a score of 43%, according to exclusive data provided by our commercial partner, MotorEasy. This covers not just the current-model Focus, but previous models as well and all the powertrain options from entry-level diesels to top-spec ST and RS models, which is worth bearing in mind if you’re looking at a used car.

    The good news is that the majority of problems are relatively inexpensive. Braking and electrical system problems make up the vast majority of issues reported by MotorEasy’s warranty data, while the big-ticket expenses of engine and gearbox faults are mercifully rare.

    If you’re looking at a used Ford Focus ST, make sure any extended warranty cover you purchase covers all of these potential problem areas.

    Awards


    Trophies, prizes and awards that the Ford Focus ST has received

    2020

    • DieselCar & EcoCar Awards – Best Hot Hatch

    2019

    • Top Gear Awards – Best Hot Hatch
    • Scottish Car of the Year Awards – Best Hot Hatch

    Similar cars


    If you’re looking at the Ford Focus ST, you might also be interested in these alternatives

    Audi RS 3 | BMW M135i | Cupra Leon | Honda Civic Type R | Hyundai i30 N | Mercedes-AMG A 35 | Mini Countryman John Cooper Works | Renault Megane RS | Skoda Octavia vRS | Toyota GR Yaris | Volkswagen Golf GTI

    There are so many hot hatch rivals to the Focus ST, challenging it on both aggressive performance and equally aggressive visuals. The most popular include the Honda Civic Type R, the Hyundai i30 N and the Renault Megane RS. Premium brands also get in the act, with the BMW M135i, the Mercedes-AMG A 35 and Audi S3 to choose from.

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    Ford Focus STThe Ford Focus ST is a true hot hatch – or estate with potent engines and sporty handling, but rivals offer more for less money.