2015 Ford Focus ST new car reviews

Our Focus ST sported a mean look with a "race red" exterior accented with racing stripes.
Though it is classified as a hatchback, it's not exactly small.
There are some interesting design touches that stand out, like the interestingly shaped exhaust tip.
The dash is nothing fancy. No carbon fiber or huge ST badges. We appreciate that.
When riding in the ST, the Recaro seats make sure you are constantly reminded you are in a sports car, not an economy hatch.

The Focus ST has a lot of our world excited. After all, there are few better options available now for a hot hatch. The ST churns a good 252 horsepower out of the 2.0-liter Ecoboost engine, but the more notable virtue is that you can grab one of these for a little over $24,000.

Other staff views

Tom Suddard Tom Suddard
Associate Editor

Hot hatches are back! Yaaaaaaaaaaaaay!

As the owner of a red SVT Focus, I was pretty sure I was going to love this thing. Yep, it's great. Super comfortable, super fast, super nimble, super well-optioned, and super cheap: You can snag one of these for $24,000. I couldn't wrestle my rose-tinted glasses off while I was driving it, so eventually I just gave in and decided it was the best car ever.

The only argument against it? The Fiesta ST. It would be a tough choice for me.

David S. Wallens David S. Wallens
Editorial Director

A year ago we bought a new Civic Si sedan for our "family car," and some people said that we made the wrong choice. We should have gotten the Focus ST instead, they said.

You know, I'm happy with our selection. I think the Civic Si has the nicer interior, smoother ride, better shifter and snappier engine. Plus I like the fact that it has a limited-slip diff. I also fit better in the Civic Si seats.

The Focus, of course, makes more power--especially in the torque department. Heading to an autocross or track? Then I concede that the Focus ST is likely the better choice. Plus if you want a hatchback, then it's a no-brainer.

For daily use, though, I'm happy with our Civic Si.

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Comments

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jstein77
jstein77 SuperDork
10/2/15 10:37 a.m.

Waiting for the RS with bated breath.

Coldsnap
Coldsnap HalfDork
10/2/15 10:53 a.m.

Cool write up. I sort of wish they offered these in a coupe with Ecoboost and never did the Ecoboost stang. But I know that thought makes no business sense.

Duke
Duke MegaDork
10/2/15 3:24 p.m.

I wish they offered these in AWD.

Cooper_Tired
Cooper_Tired Reader
10/2/15 3:46 p.m.

These are still the only new to new-ish car I'm seriously interested in. I know the article states you can get them for 24k, but I've seen them sub 20k new on cars.com

captdownshift
captdownshift UltraDork
10/2/15 4:13 p.m.

Focus ST and the VW GTI are a pair of excellent choices to have within the segment

Duke
Duke MegaDork
10/2/15 4:20 p.m.

How are these things at autocross? DD#1 is going to need/want a new car next year, and she will want a manual with 4 doors. Unfortunately she also prefers hatchbacks and AWD, so the Focus ST and GTI are available in the body style she wants but not the platform, while the 2015 WRX is available in the platform but not the body style. The FoST is also a solid $4k cheaper in typical advertised prices that the WRX, and maybe $2k cheaper than the GTI.

z31maniac
z31maniac MegaDork
10/2/15 4:42 p.m.
jstein77 wrote: Waiting for the RS with bated breath.

I have $2000 in parts for the BRZ that I haven't put on yet specifically because of the RS.

I loved LOVED my '13 GT Mustang track pack (only ditched it because it was taking too much money from the dedicated track car). And I love what Ford has been doing the last few years, so I'd really like to be able to vote with dollars again.

Also, it would be a bit more practical than the BRZ. And I'm sure the tuners will quickly take it from 345 to 400hp with a tune. Making it a damn rocketship.

Harvey
Harvey Dork
10/2/15 5:49 p.m.
Duke wrote: How are these things at autocross? DD#1 is going to need/want a new car next year, and she will want a manual with 4 doors. Unfortunately she also prefers hatchbacks and AWD, so the Focus ST and GTI are available in the body style she wants but not the platform, while the 2015 WRX is available in the platform but not the body style. The FoST is also a solid $4k cheaper in typical advertised prices that the WRX, and maybe $2k cheaper than the GTI.

FoST has won GS Nationals two years in a row now. It's pretty good at autocross.

airwerks
airwerks Reader
10/2/15 5:52 p.m.
jstein77 wrote: Waiting for the RS with bated breath.

I initially read this as "with bad breath".

I like my version better.

Klayfish
Klayfish UltraDork
10/2/15 6:02 p.m.

I am oh so interested in the FoST. But with me driving as much as I do I am very concerned about having a turbo DI motor and the inevitable carbon build up issues. Same with the Mazdaspeed3

Jaynen
Jaynen Dork
10/2/15 7:00 p.m.
Harvey wrote:
Duke wrote: How are these things at autocross? DD#1 is going to need/want a new car next year, and she will want a manual with 4 doors. Unfortunately she also prefers hatchbacks and AWD, so the Focus ST and GTI are available in the body style she wants but not the platform, while the 2015 WRX is available in the platform but not the body style. The FoST is also a solid $4k cheaper in typical advertised prices that the WRX, and maybe $2k cheaper than the GTI.

FoST has won GS Nationals two years in a row now. It's pretty good at autocross.

I believe it also was competitive in one of the street touring classes

MrJoshua
MrJoshua UltimaDork
10/3/15 10:05 p.m.

While cruising through your Specs it did excite me to find out the car has both (front) and (rear) brakes.

wearymicrobe
wearymicrobe SuperDork
10/3/15 11:58 p.m.
Klayfish wrote: I am oh so interested in the FoST. But with me driving as much as I do I am very concerned about having a turbo DI motor and the inevitable carbon build up issues. Same with the Mazdaspeed3

How is Ford and well everybody else dealing with this. has there been some fundamental change in the tech or are they all going to have the issues that Audi has had in the past?

The0retical
The0retical Dork
10/4/15 7:59 a.m.

There's still a major problem with carbon buildup on the backside of the valves in direct injection motors. A lot of the MS3 people insert a catch can into the PCV system which helps a bit and won't get you into too much trouble with the emission control folks. The long term solution is generally to delete the EGR but that will throw a CEL and get you into trouble.

The other solution is to either soak the carbon off the valves using denatured alcohol or use some fine walnut media to blast the back side of the valves every 25k miles, or once the car starts losing power, through the intake manifold side. I haven't seen anything directly from Mazda, Ford, or Audi on a good solution. I guess you could add 5th port injection to wash the backs of the valves...

Edit: Correction BMW has documentation on how to use their carbon blaster tool to get the crap off the valves but nothing that will help keep it off.

jstein77
jstein77 SuperDork
10/4/15 1:35 p.m.
airwerks wrote:
jstein77 wrote: Waiting for the RS with bated breath.

I initially read this as "with bad breath".

I like my version better.

Hey! I just brushed my teeth!

jstein77
jstein77 SuperDork
10/4/15 1:39 p.m.

This is what mine's going to look like.

petegossett
petegossett PowerDork
10/4/15 3:08 p.m.

In reply to The0retical:

I started researching this a bit after reading your post, as a Fiesta ST is likely in my future. From what I found today, it seems the carbon buildup is primarily a result of short trips and stop & go driving. They also state that giving it a good romp every now & then helps clean things out. Have you seen anything contradictory to that? Fortunately, most of my driving is highway, and what stop & go driving I do usually involves hard launches, so from that aspect I shouldn't have anything to worry about.

Coldsnap
Coldsnap HalfDork
10/4/15 3:31 p.m.

I'm so screwed with my turbo car then. I take like 5 mile trips, to the gym, to the grocery store, to the post office. I should be using my bike for these trips anyways, just more reason to do it now.

The0retical
The0retical Dork
10/4/15 4:50 p.m.

In reply to petegossett:

I've heard the theory that wringing the car out from time helps with keeping the build up off before. I haven't seen any empirical evidence to back up that assertion and a lot of people who claim to drive their cars fairly aggressively still chime in about having the issue. It would be a great excuse to lay on the wife for some more track time though.

I guess I should pull my own manifold and take a look. I'm at 30k miles on my 2011 MS3 and drive a mixture of conditions to work and back as well as puttering around town when I don't need to transport the baby. The car gets wrung out once or twice a week and I installed an oil catch can at 5k miles. Plus I know what the maintenance has been on the car as far as oil and filter changes go.

I'll check and take some pictures when I install the injector seals. Unfortunately it'll have to wait until February when I get back home which is kind of a long time frame.

I do love the motor though. The car has been so much better behaved since I flashed a customized tune to it and the power curve is significantly better. The Cobbs OTS tunes are good but customized tunes are well worth the money for the way that they change the characteristics of the cars power curve. I'd imagine the FoST is just as good and the RS will just be a hoot.

Klayfish
Klayfish UltraDork
10/5/15 6:06 a.m.

I haven't heard of any non-expensive solution to carbon buildup on a DI motor. When I had my MINI S, I read some people felt Seafoam would prevent it, but I saw nothing to prove it. Really sucks, it's limiting my search to port injected cars...and they don't make too many newer port injected fun station wagons.

Coldsnap
Coldsnap HalfDork
10/5/15 6:46 a.m.

So what's the result of carbon buildup? Loss of power?

fornetti14
fornetti14 Dork
10/5/15 7:32 a.m.

Does anyone have a list of "go to" mods for the FoST? Maybe a downpipe or something along those lines?

I'm excited to see the RS and GT350 to hit the showrooms, but I'm also concerned about the "dealer or market adjustment" crap. I see the RS as a real replacement for my Speed6, which has almost 97,000 and zero power loss due to DI carbon buildup. It must be all the track days...

Ian F
Ian F MegaDork
10/5/15 8:19 a.m.
Coldsnap wrote: So what's the result of carbon buildup? Loss of power?

Essentially. Air flow gets restricted into the engine. A MINI/BMW shop in Philly has been doing the walnut blasting thing for awhile now on mainly the 335i/535i turbo BMW's. It's a fairly involved process on those cars. The intake manifold is removed and then a special tool that fits into the head port that has a connection for a vacuum cleaner and the blasting nozzle. It also required bumping or turning the engine to make sure the valve is closed.

This has been an issue with TDI's for years. I'm on my 3rd intake manifold (mainly because I've been too lazy to clean the take-offs, which I still have). Eventually I'll set up my blasting cabinet to clean the old manifolds with walnut shells.

So to me, this wouldn't be an issue that would dissuade me from a particular car or engine type. Just another maintenance item to be scheduled.

Flight Service
Flight Service MegaDork
10/5/15 8:48 a.m.

It's a great time to be a hot hatch fan

Klayfish
Klayfish UltraDork
10/5/15 9:03 a.m.
Ian F wrote: So to me, this wouldn't be an issue that would dissuade me from a particular car or engine type. Just another maintenance item to be scheduled.

I agree you could view it as another maintenance item, but it's an expensive one, especially if you can't DIY. It doesn't "scare" me, but just factors in when I'm looking at buying a car and all the costs/maintenance needs associated. A turbo DI needs much more than a port injected NA.

And I completely agree with Flight Service in that it's an awesome time to be a hot hatch fan. A wealth of choices, which I love.

Ian F
Ian F MegaDork
10/5/15 9:13 a.m.

I was curious... and it turns out Bav Auto sells a DIY cleaning kit for the N54/55 engines that isn't too expensive. The media blaster is a standard tool, but the special port adapter isn't as expensive as I thought it would be: $260 for the kit.

http://www.bavauto.com/fland.asp?part=B1100001&utm_source=google&utm_medium=cse&utm_term=B1100001-335ICOUPE-2008-576962&gclid=CNTd6MHAq8gCFdUTHwodlz8G0Q

Where there is a need, the aftermarket will fill it. Now I just need someone to come up with an ALH port adapter.

Coldsnap
Coldsnap HalfDork
10/5/15 4:05 p.m.

Ah. You know I just noticed my car states - Fuel Injection: Sequential multi-port.

So i might be good on carbon buildup.

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