There is always something to be said for charisma and power. The 2018 Ford Focus ST may be as old as the regular Focus, sharing most of the elements that make the car lose its appeal when new competitors arrive. This is not the newest and hottest anymore. But the Focus ST remains as fun as ever, providing the exact same blend of practicality, performance and comfort when it was first launched five years ago. It’s a cool car and always will be.
First, its turbocharged four-cylinder engine continues to be a blast, pushing you into the ST Recaro sports seat into a deep warble tone. All that power flows through the front wheels, making it sometimes a little difficult to control, but that’s all part of the fun. The six-speed manual transmission is love. There is also the ST entertaining handling and steering. Yes, it’s fun to go quickly in a straight line, but the ST is nimble in the corner, too.
The downside, the 2018 Ford Focus ST design is mostly related to the regular Focus. The back seat is narrow, and the basic technology interface is out of date. The cabin quality is also not as attractive as it used to be and overshadowed by Honda and Volkswagen. The gripping Recaro seats may also be too narrow for a larger driver.
In the end, the 2018 Ford Focus ST should be included in the shopping list if you are looking for a strong, charismatic car with lots of practicality with affordable price.
For 2018, the Ford Focus ST is essentially unchanged.
Trim levels and features
The 2018 Ford Focus ST is a performance-oriented version of the regular Focus four-door hatchback. The higher-performance Focus RS is reviewed separately.
Standard features for the Focus ST includes keyless entry and ignition, summer tires, 18-inch alloy wheels, performance brakes, hill start assist, an electronic limited-slip differential, LED daytime running lights, foglights, automatic headlights, a sport body kit, an integrated blind-spot mirror, air-conditioning, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, front sport seats with driver height adjustment, cloth upholstery, 60/40-split folding rear seats, a rearview camera, MyKey parental controls, a 4.2-inch central display, Sync voice controls, Bluetooth, and a six-speaker sound system with a USB port.
The optional ST2 package adds xenon a sunroof, headlights, dual-zone automatic climate control, Recaro front sport seats, cloth and leather upholstery, the Sync 3 infotainment interface with an 8-inch touchscreen, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone integration, and a 10-speaker Sony sound system with a CD player, dual USB ports, HD and satellite radio.
The ST3 package includes all the ST2 items along with a keyless entry keypad, heated mirrors, carbon-fiber interior accents, multicolor ambient interior lighting, a heated steering wheel, heated front Recaro seats with eight-way power adjustments for the driver, full leather upholstery, a rear center armrest and a navigation system.
Stand-alone options include high-performance all-season tires, dark gray 18-inch alloy wheels with red-painted brake calipers, and navigation system (requires the ST2 package).
The 2018 Ford Focus ST is powered by a turbocharged 2.0-liter inline four-cylinder engine that produces 252 horsepower and 270 pound-feet of torque. Power sent to the front wheel through a six-speed manual transmission that includes hill start assist.
The 2018 Ford Focus ST clearly has a firmer ride quality than the standard Focus, but still comfortable enough to make the car a solid choice for everyday driving. However, where the ST really shines is in the driving experience itself. The 252-horsepower four-cylinder provide abundant acceleration, while the crisp short-throw manual gearbox makes it fun to use. Strong brakes and communicative steering make the car just much more enjoyable.
In performance testing, the 2018 Ford Focus ST accelerates from 0 to 60 mph in 6.3 seconds, which is a bit slower than some other cars in this class. That’s partly explained by the fact that you have to shift into third gear to hit 60, which puts a little extra time on the clock. It reaches 100 mph in 17.3 seconds with top speed of 150 mph.
EPA estimates fuel economy stands at 25 mpg combined (22 city/30 highway), a respectable number for a hot hatch.
Inside, the 2018 Ford Focus ST has a handsome cabin. Both materials and construction quality are the best. The standard sport front seats are comfortable and supportive. The optional Recaro seats offer a larger side bolsters designed to provide enhanced support in hard cornering, but some drivers may find it too restrictive in everyday driving or on long trips. The rear seats offer decent headroom although the legroom is a bit tight compared to competitors.
You can choose a standard 4.2-inch screen, but the 8-inch touchscreen upgrade is worth getting. Since it’s easy to use and supports the latest smartphone app integration systems.
For practicality, the Focus ST is also quite easy to live. It offers 23.8 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seats, and useful 43.9 cubic feet with the 60/40-split rear seatback folded down, which is about 3 cubic feet more than the Mini Cooper four-door but almost 9 cubic feet less than the VW Golf GTI.
Release Dates and Price
The 2018 Focus ST has a Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starting around $26,000.