Up: Fast, good exhaust note, aggressive looks
Down: I’m not crazy about the interior, specifically the vertical vents.
Neutral: Puts pressure on Golf GTIs and Subaru WRXs.
Hot hatches have not been very popular in the U.S. until very recently and I think it’s because of two factors; they’re not very big and they don’t have a V8 engine. I mean, why buy a sports car if it isn’t loud and unpractical, right? Well, in the last few years big American companies like Ford have recognized that a car can be very fast AND fuel efficient. There’s a reason auto tuning brands like Fifteen52, Hennessey, and Gymkhana superstar Ken Block have turned to hot hatches and that reason is the 2014 Ford Focus ST.
The 2014 Ford Focus ST rolls off the lot with a turbocharged 2.0 liter inline 4 that produces 252 hp, 18″ wheels with summer tires, a sport tuned suspension, performance disc brakes on all 4 corners, and a high performance exhaust system. That is a fine recipe for a high performance track car but there’s a catch; you also get 5 doors, tons of cargo space, a quiet, comfortable ride, and over 30 mpg on the highway. Not really a catch is it? On paper, it sounds like the Ford Focus ST gives you the best of both worlds so you can bet I had to get my hands on the wheel to test out that claim.
The best part about the interior is that it compliments the exterior. I really enjoy that it feels like the same car on the inside as it is on the outside. You get Recaro racing seats that hug you but are still comfortable, aggressive gauges on the console (including 3 more on the dash specific to the ST), racing pedals, a MyFord Touch screen, and, the best part, the ST models only come in a manual transmission. You really get the feeling that you can go compete in an Autocross event and then stop by the grocery store on the way home without any hesitation.
Once I fired it up and got on the road, it was clear that this was your everyday average hatchback. But that’s a good thing because that’s how it should feel in town. Once I got it out on a circular on-ramp to the interstate the Focus ST really started to come alive. The acceleration was fantasticly quick and the exhaust note would make the hairs stand up on any motor-head. Before I knew it I was pushing over 80 mph and the acceleration was still climbing. However, I backed off because I didn’t want to have that conversation with the police on why I’m speeding in a car I don’t even own!
Sioux Falls Ford representative Nelson Zephier told me that the Focus ST has a unique Torque Vectoring system. Since this car is front wheel drive and has around 270 torques, it is important that this car stays on track. The Torque Vectoring makes active use of the brakes so the front wheels don’t spin out or pull left/right when you really put your foot down. You can also feel it kick in when you take turns at higher speeds. Sometimes it’s fun to get the wheels squeeling but the Torque Vectoring system keeps the car ranking high with safety and control.
The 2014 Ford Focus is an awesome machine. There are very few cars that can offer this amount of performance that will not make you feel guilty because you don’t have room for kids or luggage. Coming in at around $25,000, it’s also quite the bargain. There are plenty of extras to add on but one of my favorites is that you can save money by still getting the great MyFord Touch screen without navigation. This is definitely a car I could see myself buying in the future. If not for practicality, then definitely for fun.