A hotter hatch: the 2017 Ford Focus ST

Four-door hatchbacks have always been the way to go. This might be my respect of cars popular in Europe, but they’re utilitarian, they maximize access to space, they offer decent fuel economy – what’s not to love when you have a hatchback as a dally driver?

OK, maybe the performance could be better. Given all the “hot hatches” automakers offer us today, they think the same thing. If a hot hatch in is your future, check out the 2017 Ford Focus ST.

First impressions

I found my tester fetching in red. My Focus featured ST badging on the honeycomb grill and the rear hatch, so the cognoscenti would know what it was they were seeing. Body-colour rocker moldings, a rear spoiler and dual exhaust indicate a car made for enthusiasts.

Interior

Step across the branded door sill and you’ll plunk yourself down onto stiff leather Recaro heated ST-branded seats with contrasting stitching. The sides of the front seats angle forward to hug the torso, not unlike a racing “bucket” would. Stiff seats or not, I found the car comfortable.

image courtesy Ford

My one complaint? Ditch the moonroof. Even with the seat adjusted all the way down, my head still grazed the edge of the moonroof.

Rear seats offer predictably less headroom, though legroom seems adequate for even taller-than-average passengers.

Ford’s SYNC3 system features an eight-inch-touchscreen-driven interface for navigation, audio (including satellite radio) and other features. And, as always, Ford gets ambient interior lighting just right.

Carbon-fibre designs adorn the shift knob, brake lever and analog gauges (including one for turbo boost) sitting above the touchscreen.

Analog is the way to go in the instrument cluster. There’s just one digital screen in the instrument cluster and it’s dwarfed by the analog speedometer and tachometer that flank it.
That screen enables access to typical “Settings” functions, the trip computer, fuel economy readouts (more on that later) and other information.

A flat-bottomed steering wheel completed the “I mean business” impression this cockpit makes.

Hockey bag test

This hatch offers capacity for 1 ½ bags. There’s a speaker on the right side of the hatch floor but it didn’t cause me issues. I had to gently push the contents down a little to have the privacy cover sit flat when I swung the hatch shut. That’s a small price to pay for the roominess of this hatch.

Driving

This car is a blast to drive. My behaviour with the three pedals and six-speed shifter made me grateful for the stiff leather Recaro seat holding me in place. Launching the ST from a start, I often let the 2L GTDI EcoBoost engine rev beyond the point where the instrument cluster screen suggested I upshift. 252 horsepower and 270 lb. ft of torque took centre stage, and I enjoyed their performance. A certain roar comes to the ears when you egg the car on, which eggs you on in turn.

This ST doesn’t exactly “ride on rails” when you take corners with a little too much gusto, but letting off the accelerator a little made the car behave again.

Parallel parking and backing into tight spots felt dead easy each time I did it in this car. I attribute this to how quickly I got a feel for the exterior proportions of the ST, something that doesn’t happen as quickly with every car I drive.

The turning radius could be a little tighter given the short wheelbase on the Focus, but I still managed most u-turns without any three-point maneuvering.

Fuel economy

You might view the Ford Focus as an econobox. The ST? Not so much. 10.5 L/100 km city, 7.8 L/100km highway and 9.3 L/100km combined are the price you pay for the performance on tap. The highway numbers don’t seem improved by cruise control. Of course, much of the fault for this will lie with drivers who let instincts get the better of their driving habits. In my humble opinion.

The ST takes premium unleaded in its 47L tank.

Pricing and conclusions

The Focus ST starts at $33,698. That’s reasonable for the power and upgrades the ST offers, all in a car that enthusiasts can enjoy as their daily drivers.

Leave a Reply