Carzone drives the Ford Focus ST-Line
Pros: Engaging drive, comfort, sporty ST-line spec
Cons: Better tech in rivals, styling hasn't changed
The Ford Focus is one of the most established names in the hatchback class, mixing good looks, a range of frugal engines and cabin practicality at a competitive price point. The latest generation Focus was launched in 2012, and while it hasn't changed hugely in that time, it has remained the world’s best-selling hatchback car for the past two years. Ford recently introduced a sporty new ST-Line model to the expansive Focus range, which adds sporty upgrades inside and out for added flair. We put the Focus ST-Line through its paces on Irish roads recently to see if it is worth the extra investment.
What is it like?
Although the styling of the Focus has remained the same for the past five years, the design has certainly aged well. The ST-Line model is sportier from the outside than most Focus models; glance at it quickly and it could be easily mistaken for the performance-orientated Focus ST hot hatch. The ST-Line gains a full exterior body styling kit and ST-Line badges, along with tinted rear windows and lowered sports suspension, while our test car boasts a striking 'Deep Impact' blue paint scheme with 17-inch rock metallic alloy wheels.
Inside, ST-Line models are equipped with niceties such as sports-style front seats, a leather steering wheel, ST-Line badges and stainless steel pedals. Although interior quality is unquestionably strong, the Focus feels a tad basic inside compared to the Honda Civic and Volkswagen Golf that we recently had on test. The driver’s area is neatly laid out and everything is within easy reach, although the optional Sync Generation 2 eight-inch touch screen infotainment system in our test car does take getting used to.
The Focus ST-Line looks fast from the outside but it is offered with a range of frugal engines, including 1.0-litre petrol, 1.5-litre diesel and 2.0-litre diesel variants. Our test car has a 150hp 2.0-litre diesel engine, which offers an ideal balance of performance and economy alike. With the six speed manual gearbox, 0-100km/h is possible in 8.8 seconds and it gathers momentum swiftly at motorway speeds. We averaged six litres per 100 kilometres of driving in fuel economy during our week-long test, while annual motor tax is listed at €190.
The Focus has a reputation for being one of the most engaging cars to drive in its class, and this is amplified even further in the ST-Line thanks to the lowered sports suspension. On the move, the steering is light and it corners with minimal body roll, while its quiet and refined on the move too. The hardened suspension and large alloy wheels result in firmer ride quality on bumpier road surfaces however, which is something to consider when comparing the ST-Line against other Focus models in the range.
The Focus ST-Line is roomy and comfortable up front, and the upgraded sports seats add an extra degree of comfort. It's a different story in the rear however as leg and head room are tighter for taller adults, but generous enough for children. Boot space is average for the class at 316 litres, and this increases significantly once the rear seats are folded down, but there is better space to be had in the boot of the new Honda Civic. Cabin storage is good with plenty of areas to stow away water bottles and coffee cups, along with sizeable door bins.
Prices for the Ford Focus kick off at €22,000 in base specification, however the ST-Line, being one of the higher specification models in the range, has a starting prcice tag of €24,875 with the 1.0-litre Ecoboost petrol engine. Our generously-equipped test car commands a price tag of over €28,000 which is still considerably less than a similarly-equipped Volkswagen Golf R-Line. As mentioned earlier, the ST-Line gets lots of extra bells and whistles over the standard Focus, including interior and exterior styling upgrades, Halogen headlights, electric heated mirrors and lots more.
Carzone verdict: 4/5
The Ford Focus has a lot going for it with an engaging drive, frugal engines and competitive pricing being its key strengths. That said, the newly-launched Honda Civic and facelifted Volkswagen Golf feel further-advanced in technology terms. The range-topping ST-Line version that we tested is considerably more expensive than the base specification Focus models in the range, but it's a worthy investment for hatchback buyers seeking a sportier look and feel. Those who like added style and sportiness will definitely find value in the ST-Line package.
Test Car Details:
Model driven: Ford Focus ST-Line
Prices from: €20,595
Price as tested: €29,125
Annual Road Tax: €190
Engine: 1997cc four-cylinder diesel
Top Speed: 209km/h
0-100km/h: 8.8 seconds
Transmission: Six-speed manual
Body style: Hatchback
Boot Space: 316 litres