2013 Ford Focus ST
by John Davis
You may have of heard of “One Ford”. That’s the catchy name the Ford Motor Company devised for its turnaround plan back in 2008. The idea was to use the best of the company’s worldwide resources to build cars that could be sold globally with little or no change. The “World Car” approach has been tried by Ford and others before, only to fall victim to country-by-country variations that diluted the original design.
Not so with “One Ford”. The program has already succeeded with the latest Ford Focus, Escape crossover, and Transit Connect utility van. All are international designs that are selling well here, as well as around the world. Now, Ford is trying this singular magic on a performance car. Developed by Ford of Europe’s Sports Technology division, the 2013 Focus ST is the brand’s first global hot rod. With that kind of pedigree, the ST seemed ripe for a special MotorWeek track test.
So, we took a brand new Ford Focus ST to our favorite winter testing venue, the two mile road course Roebling Road Raceway near Savannah, Georgia for a thorough flogging.
What makes the ST different starts under the hood with Ford’s now familiar 2.0-liter EcoBoost I4. But in the ST it’s a high output version with horsepower bumped up to 252. The only transmission is a 6-speed manual that gets specific ST updates, as does the suspension and steering. The ST actually rides almost half an inch lower than its more pedestrian siblings.
The 5-door hatchback body also gets a performance infusion with a wide, one piece grille, rocker extensions, a diffuser-style rear bumper, center-mounted dual exhaust, and prominent spoiler up top. All of this is supported by 18-inch alloy wheels sporting Goodyear Eagle F1 rubber.
So, how did this muscular Focus perform? Well, at the track, the ST ate up asphalt like few other front-wheel drive cars can do. It was super easy to find the ST’s limits and push the car right to that point corner after corner. Steering is very direct, and while speed sapping front drive understeer is still an issue, a little lift-off-the-throttle oversteer counters it nicely. When driven in a straight line, power builds quickly. Despite plenty of torque steer, the ST still darts to 60 in less than 6 seconds.
The Focus ST gets a thoroughly transformed interior as well. Our favorite feature by far is the optional Recaro leather buckets up front. Away from the track the ST is quite comfortable and feels surprisingly docile. The engine and exhaust make delightfully sporty sounds.
Needless to say we are very impressed with the Ford Focus ST. If this is the kind of high value performance car that “One Ford” can deliver, then we’re for it, one and all.
For our exclusive road test of the 2013 Ford Focus ST, be sure to catch MotorWeek episode #3228 which begins airing on March 16, 2013. For a complete listing of the public television stations broadcasting MotorWeek click here. MotorWeek is also seen Tuesday evenings on the Velocity cable channel.