We’re at Roebling Road Raceway near Savannah, Georgia, to find out if the 2013 Ford Focus ST does indeed deliver world-class performance for bargain basement prices. So let’s download the data before we dive in to that.
Starting under the hood, you’ll find Ford’s now very familiar 2.0-liter EcoBoost I4 engine, but it’s a high output version for the ST with an over-boost function that bumps horsepower up to 252. Torque remains the same at a very vigorous 270 lb-ft. Transmission is a 6-speed manual only and also gets specific ST updates.
The chassis adds some additional firming, while suspension and steering have all been re-calibrated. The ST rides almost half an inch lower than its more pedestrian siblings.
Atop all of that hardware, sits a 5-door hatchback body that gets a muscly makeover that transforms this compact from kitty cat to rip roaring' tiger. Specifics include a wide open, one piece, black trapezoidal grille, rocker extensions, and a diffuser-style rear bumper with venting and a cutout for the center-mounted dual exhaust. It wouldn’t be a hot hatchback without a prominent spoiler up top.
18-inch alloy wheels sport Good Year Eagle F1 rubber, with the two up front handling both steering and power distribution, as rally-car like all-wheel-drive is not on the menu. Manual transmission and hatchback only? Sure sounds European! ST, created by Ford of Europe’s Sports Technology division, is a true Euro-style performance car following in the path of the Volkswagen Golf R. And much like the Golf R, at the track, it ate up asphalt like few other front drivers can do. It was super easy to find the ST’s limits and push them right to that point corner after corner.
The front strut suspension and control blade independent rear have been perfectly stiffened, and the ST comes with unobtrusive stability control that can be disabled, and Torque Vectoring Control which uses selective braking to tighten turns. Steering is nice and direct, and while speed sapping front drive understeer is still an issue, a little lift-off-the-throttle oversteer counters it nicely.
As for complaints, if you’re not used to slinging compact, hot hatches around the track, you’ll feel like you’re sitting right on top of the front wheels, and the Sound Symposer which pumps engine noise into the cabin didn’t pump quite enough for track work. A little more exhaust note would go a long way in helping you stay off the rev limiter.
When driven in a straight line, the ST will spring to 60 in 5.9-seconds and complete the ¼ mile in 14.8-seconds at 95 miles-per-hour. Power builds quickly, so keep a hand on the shifter and be ready to move it up; meanwhile, keep a firm grip on the wheel with your other one as there’s plenty of torque steer to go around.
The Focus ST gets a thoroughly transformed interior as well, with a sporty two-tone theme that mirrors your exterior color of choice. Our favorite feature by far is the optional Recaro leather buckets up front, but the thick pedals, steering wheel, shifter, and dash top accessory gauge pack are not far behind. And hatchback versatility is always a plus with rear seats that fold to give you wagon-like cargo room of 44.8 cubic-ft.
Away from the track the ST feels surprisingly docile. The now easier to hear engine and exhaust make a sweet sporty sound when you want them to, and quiet down nicely when you don’t. While the suspension is tight, it’s not uncomfortably so over even rough pavement. Even far from its limits, the ST is a very fun car to drive.
And, it’s a clear winner in value as well, packing all this major performance into a very reasonable $24,495 price. The Recaros are part of a $2,500 package that includes a Sony stereo and dual auto climate and it’s well worth it.
So, the results are in and we feel the 2013 Ford Focus ST fully lives up to its promise by delivering an incredible amount of performance for an almost absurdly low price. With hints that an even more potent Focus RS is in the works, we sure hope Ford stays this global performance course and builds a lot of them.
Engine: 2.0-liter EcoBoost I4
Torque: 270 lb-ft.
0-60 mph: 5.9 seconds
1/4 mile: 14.8 seconds @ 95 mph