Ford Focus ST-Line: Test Drive

The ST Line lettering on the side of a sky-blue Ford Focus is quite promising.

But how cool is this hatchback and how does it drive?

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The Ford Focus has always been distinguished by a large number of versions and modifications, but there are, perhaps, the most of them in this generation. We have already tested a classic Focus, a Wagon, and an Active. This time, we are testing a dynamic ST-Line.

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The magic letters ‘ST’ and even more so ‘RS’ are known to all fans of the Ford brand. Still, the last-generation Focus ST developed 250 hp, and the RS – overwhelming 350 hp. This new hatchback easily accelerates from 0-100 km/h in 5 seconds, not mentioning that it is almost an iconic model among fans of such cars.

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Therefore, the ‘ST-Line’ inscription on the side of a sky-blue Ford Focus is also promising, but we should immediately note that its specifications are somewhat more modest – a 1.5-liter engine produces 150 hp. So, what is hidden behind this inscription?

Design

Design is in the first place: a cellular radiator grille, eye-catching branded fog lamps, a different body kit, a spoiler on the trunk lid and a dual exhaust pipe system. To top it off, there are optional 180-inch wheels shod in low-profile 235/40 rubber.

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Native 215/50R17 tires are also good, but the hatchback looks brighter and more interesting with these ones. Of course, this is to the credit of the rich blue color, which shimmers in the sun with all its shades. But the most expensive-looking one will still be Ruby Red.

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In general, the Ford Focus ST-Line is not cheap and costs about $31,800. Let's figure out what you can get for this sum of money. In addition to the already mentioned external styling, there is more advanced equipment with rain and light sensors, a keyless entry system, parking sensors, a rear-view camera, cruise control with a speed limiter, and a lane-keeping system.

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In addition to the 150-hp engine, there is a sports suspension, as well as light ST-styling inside.

Interior

Sitting inside this Focus ST-Line, I feel almost as if in my own car. It seems to me that familiar, especially after so many tested versions of this model. But even if this is your first time at the wheel of the Focus, you can quickly get used to it.

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The controls are concise and clear, you will only have to get used to the abundance of buttons on the steering wheel. But a variety of information on the large screen of the onboard computer will never be superfluous, especially if you can configure it according to your personal preferences.

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A free-standing infotainment screen (8 inches, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay), a two-zone climate control unit at the bottom of the fascia and… a rotary shifter! No, the biggest surprise was not the shifter itself but an automatic transmission. I was sure that there simply must be a manual gearbox.

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In general, the interior design of the St-Line is pretty different but not that much: red stitching on the fabric seat upholstery, and metal overlays on the baffle plates and pedals. There are standard in their shape and support front seats and a conventional steering wheel. So, the interior has not changed a lot.

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I liked that the cabin is spacious. This will be especially appreciated by rear-seat passengers, because the Focus has increased in size and especially in the wheelbase – by as much as 53 mm.

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As for the seats themselves, they feel comfortable, even if they are configured with a typical set of adjustments. Like other Focus models, you can scold our test car for the simple finish of the door panels – solid molding and simple materials look very budget-friendly.

At the same time, the trunk is quite typical by the standards of the class: 341 liters, a narrow baffle plate, a step when folding the rear seat row, and a hatch.

Drive

Pressing the Start button, turning the shifter into D mode, and the Ford Focus gently purring quietly moves off. Yes, there is no menacing roar, the engine does not mumble a deep bass, and the exhaust does not frighten passers-by. The sound is pleasant but very moderate. It just perfectly correlates with the stated power indicators.

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By nature, the Focus ST-Line is very dynamic and tries to be responsive, but it can still be thoughtful at low speeds, as if asking the driver: “Are you sure you want to go faster? Then let's go!” The 240-Nm torque is already available at 1,600 rpm, but it is obvious that the fight for the environment has also made its contribution. Modern eco-requirements will strangle any engine. After two thousand, the Focus easily and even cheerfully accelerates. It drives pretty well.

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But this dish will not be so spicy, if you do not add honed handling and a reconfigured suspension. A flexible and accurate steering wheel even of the standard Focus will please any driver. Here, the suspension is assembled and “compressed”, so that the hatchback turns along a clear trajectory. The car is hot-tempered – this is what we can say after several drives at its wheel. Yes, it accelerates 100 km/h in 8.9 seconds (nothing unusual), but it feels really faster.

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As for the hydro-mechanical transmission, 8 speeds are just enough. It works much better than it was with a 1-liter Focus. The rotary shifter does not require getting used to and even prompts the driver. If you stopped and opened the door without turning off the drive mode, it will automatically switch to “Parking”. Where will you find this among other cars with a normal gear selector?

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Finally, I will add that the character of the car can be adjusted using the button for selecting driving modes. It is very appropriate here. Don't want to succumb to provocations of the car? Then choose “Eco” and drive quietly on 7-8 liters per 100 km. Want to hurry? Then you need the “Sport” mode, in which the car comes to life noticeably. But do not wait for the fuel consumption of less than 10 liters in the city. It is a pity that these settings do not affect the suspension – it remains assembled, dense and sometimes even rigid in any mode.

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