If you're in the market for a performance-oriented compact car, it doesn't get much better than the Ford Focus ST. And for the 2015 model year, Ford has made the Focus even better, with flashier front and rear fascias, new wheels and stripe selections on the outside, more storage, a new center stack layout and steering wheel, and a standard rearview camera on the inside. The suspension and steering were also retuned to make the hot hatchback even more responsive. This all adds to the appeal of a car that already delivered seat-pinning performance. And even though the ST is small and sporty, interior comfort and ride quality are the best in the segment. The only reason it fails to earn our Editors' Choice is because of the frustratingly dated Sync with MyFord Touch infotainment system, which will soon be replaced soon be the new Sync 3.
The 2015 Focus comes in seven different trim levels, including an all-electric model. But for the purpose of this review we're focusing on the ST five-door hatch variant, which starts at $24,370. The final sticker price on our tester—after $4,775 in options and a destination charge of $825—is $29,145.
What Does it Come With?
The 2015 Ford Focus ST comes equipped with a 2.0-liter, 252-horsepower EcoBoost engine and a 6-speed manual transmission. Standard performance and appearance features include 18-inch alloy wheels wrapped with summer-only tires, a sport suspension, ST front grille and fog lamps, LED lighting, bright-tipped center dual exhaust, a unique instrument-panel finish, aluminum pedals, an alloy gear shift knob, a leather-wrapped and perforated steering wheel with ST badging, and analog dash-top mini cluster gauges showing turbo boost pressure. It also comes standard with hill-start assist, a rearview camera, keyless ignition and starting, and cruise control.
Our test car had the $2,990 Equipment Group 401A option package that includes heavily bolstered Recaro leather-trimmed seats with embroidered ST logos, front cornering lamps, HID headlamps, dual-zone climate control, AM/FM HD radio, SiriusXM satellite radio, a 10-speaker Sony audio system, and the Sync with MyFord Touch infotainment system. Other options included a $795 navigation system and $495 each for premium painted wheels and a black exterior racing stripe.
How's the Tech?
Much has been written about MyFord Touch and, like all infotainment systems, it certainly has its quirks. But it also has its benefits, such as a large screen with sharp graphics and a prominent center-mounted volume knob that augments the largely touch-based controls. It was one of the first infotainment systems to offer in-car Wi-Fi, albeit through a remote access point/external hotspot or via a wireless broadband card plugged into the car's USB port.
We find that Ford's AppLink system is one of the most difficult automotive app platforms to set up and operate. The navigation system is not only slow to respond, but also has no form of connected search, and several times it sent us on strange routes when we knew that quicker and shorter ones existed. Cloud-based features such as weather, live traffic, and fuel search are available through SiriusXM Travel Link but require a subscription.
How Does it Perform?
While infotainment performance is spotty, the driving prowess of the 2015 Ford Focus ST is spot-on, with brisk acceleration, a slick 6-speed manual transmission, and a sultry exhaust note. The Focus ST is as driver-friendly as it is fun to drive. Special tuning of the electric-assist power steering, as well as electronic differential control and stability control allow the Focus ST to behave sensibly on daily drives, and to maintain its composure during hard drives. And while the suspension tuning is firm, the Focus ST is one of the best-riding and most quiet compact hatchbacks available—until the engine roars to life when the accelerator pedal is pushed.
Should I Buy It?
Among performance-oriented compact hatchbacks, the MazdaSpeed 3 and the Subaru WRX are strong alternatives to the 2015 Ford Focus ST, but neither are as easy to drive and can't compete in interior quality and comfort. The Mini Cooper S and the Volkswagen GTI are two more hot hatches to consider, although the Mini's small cabin and stiff ride makes it a less pleasant daily driver. The GTI is the Focus ST's closest competitor, and it has an equally kludgy infotainment system. When Ford eventually adds the upcoming Sync 3 system to the Focus ST, we can see it easily earning our Editors' Choice in the segment.
Text Source: PC Magazine