2013 Ford Focus ST

2013 Ford Focus ST

The Good:
– Awesome engine and gearbox
– Awesome ride and handling
– Awesome value for money
The Bad:
– Average rear-seat legroom
– Some torque-steer on launch
– Reduced boot space

The new Ford Focus ST is freaking brilliant! Now that we’ve delivered our verdict in the first line of this review already, you might as well stop reading and buy one down at your local dealer, assuming they aren’t sold out already. But if you’d like to know more, then read on.

As an honest-to-goodness hot hatch, the Focus ST certainly looks the part. While the regular Focus is already a good-looking car, the ST ramps up the boy-racer factor with a unique front clip, side skirts, cool 18-inch wheels, the obligatory tailgate spoiler and a new rear bumper with nicely-machined central exhaust tips. There is absolutely nothing left unfinished, as Toyota 86 owners can attest.

The build quality is pretty solid, even if certain hidden corners under the tailgate have a haphazard appearance. There’s a big gap at the front edge of the bonnet, apparently to let air into the engine compartment, but it’ll always look like the bonnet isn’t fully closed.

2013 Ford Focus ST 7

Inside, it’s a standard top-spec Focus interior, with the same premium soft-touch areas on the dash, the front doors and all the armrests, with a pretty little blue screen at the top of the centre-console. The key difference in the ST, aside from the manual shifter and third pedal, is that pair of thick Recaro bucket seats up front. That, and the pod on top of the dash with three gauges, one for turbo boost-pressure.

Those part-fabric part-leatherette seats are tight and grip like glue, and yet, they’re comfortable for regular-sized people. Sumo wrestlers might disagree though, but there’s always the rear bench seat for them, with adjustable headrests and decent all-round headroom. Rear legroom isn’t particularly great though, just about adequate for medium-sized passengers, but appearing cramped compared to, say, the lowly Nissan Sentra. The boot isn’t that big either compared to a sedan, but good enough for monthly groceries and a couple of trolley-bags. In fact, we appreciated the grocery-bag hooks, but the floor is a lot higher than in the regular Focus to fit a full-size spare tyre. There are pockets on all doors and open cup-holders up front, but the rear bench loses the middle armrest and rear cup-holders.

Our Focus ST was fitted with the usual power accessories, a full-colour screen on top of the centre console, configurable with the million steering-wheel buttons. There is also Bluetooth, cruise control with speed limiter, fog lamps, front/side airbags, and a good CD/MP3 stereo with USB/AUX ports and Bluetooth streaming. It also came with a dual-zone a/c that was unstressed in February weather but had no rear vents, while there is a keyless-start button but the key-fob lock/unlock buttons still need to be used. There’s no sunroof or HID headlights, but we didn’t need either. In fact, the standard halogen headlights are surprisingly bright, although HIDs would’ve added to the cool factor.

2013 Ford Focus ST 4

Ford finally brings in their small “EcoBoost” engine to the GCC. The direct-injection 2.0-litre turbocharged 4-cylinder is a sweet motor that packs almost as much punch as the one in the expensive VW Golf R. Making 250 hp at 5500 rpm and 340 Nm of torque between 2000 rpm to 4500 rpm, power is sent to the front wheels via a standard 6-speed manual. The shifter has slightly long throws, but is probably the slickest one we’ve experienced since Honda’s heyday. Add to that a mildly-weighted clutch pedal with a low engagement point, and the ST becomes pretty easy to handle in traffic, without causing a leg cramp like most other sports cars. Even better, the engine is so powerful that you can cruise and even overtake on the highway in sixth gear all day.

We timed the 0-100 kph run at 7.1 seconds on a desert road with ESP off, a ton of wheelspin, and revving well into the redline, otherwise a 2-3 shift comes up right after 100 clicks. We suspect it could be a little faster if you can manage the wheelspin on a grippier drag-strip, but otherwise, the car is much quicker once it’s already rolling, unlike the VW Golf GTI which runs out of steam by 120 kph. Pounding around has its toll though, as we managed a burn rate of 12.8 litres/100 km, and that too with a lot of highway driving.

On hard take-off, the ST offers up torque steer in spades, with a little tug on the steering wheel, but it’s not a big deal as long as you have one hand on it. The real action starts once it gets moving. Throw the car smoothly into tight corners and the 235/40 tyres just hang onto the road like glue. There’s a “torque-vectoring” system that quells understeer, and it does wonders for this car with almost no tyre squeal, to the point where you start wondering if it has all-wheel-drive. The super-sharp variable-ratio steering is nicely-weighted, offers good feedback, and does 1.8 turns lock-to-lock at lower speeds. Hit the strong meaty-feeling brakes mid-corner, and the rear just slightly slides out by an inch before regaining grip again, even in the lenient “ESP Sport” mode.

There is the slightest hint of body roll, and we wouldn’t have it any other way, because the independent-suspension tuning allows the ST to offer a remarkably smooth ride, at least for a sporty car. It still jumps up and down on uneven roads, but the bumps are somewhat smoothened over rather than sharply poking at your ribs like the Renault Sport Clio does. The steering is firm, but still light enough to park one-handed, and while rear visibility is limited, rear sensors help a lot. It’s also relatively quiet for a sporty car, with the engine rather muffled most of the time, the exhaust getting throaty only on full throttle. Wind noise is low, and road noise reaches moderate levels at speed. This car surely won’t be fatiguing on the daily drive to work.

With this car, Ford has become what Honda used to be, and what VW is slowly moving away from — affordable fun. While the others are busy selling crossovers, econo-tubs and automatics, Ford is finally offering us their hidden gem from Europe, a back-to-basics hot hatch that’s fast, involving, practical, and most of all, awesome value. It’s the best all-round car we’ve driven in years, and would recommend one in a heartbeat.

Price Range:
Dh 99,000-100,000

Current Model Introduced in:

Body Styles:
5-door hatchback

2.0L 250 hp Inline-4 turbo / 340 Nm

6-speed manual


Front: independent
Rear: independent

Front: discs
Rear: discs

Curb Weight:
1362 kg

4362 mm

2648 mm

Top Speed:
248 kph

Test Acceleration 0-100 kph:
7.1 sec.

Observed Test Fuel Economy:
12.8 litres/100km

What do you think?



  1. Nice review Mash..

    Good to see an unbiased review. And for a change it’s not an Ugly Japanese Car….


  2. Thanks for the review Mash, but for AED 10000 more, I could get a 3.8 V6 Genesis coupe, which is a RWD and naturally aspirated!!! No torque steer, No summer drop in performance due to heat problems!

  3. nice review again mash…love my car everyday i see it..great car….only one problem…the driver ouch..

  4. Hopefully Automatic model/Triptronic model is launched soon 🙂

  5. If you want an Auto buy something else. I agree with Mash, these sort of cars should only come with a Manual transmission

    • Author

      It’s not that I like every car with a manual gearbox, but I like this one because it is easy to drive in traffic.

  6. Renault Clio 200 is on its way. This time with an automatic!!!

  7. Nice review Mash!

    Does this come with a subwoofer in the boot?

  8. @sushanth: yes it does come with a subwoofer in the back, n by the way the weight of the car is supposed to be 1446 kgs not the one mentioned above…..please correct me if i’m wrong. PEACE! 😀

    • Author

      That’s the curb weight for the U.S. version. We get the European version, although I’m not sure why there is such a huge difference in weight.

    • ^^ The US version stopped over at a McDonalds drive-thru on the way!

  9. the difference in weight is difference in most likely saftey equipment and the extra strength for crash testing required by NTSB

    I dono why gcc is still not big on saftey as almost all cars in US of no matter what specs atleast get full 6 airbags!

    I guess they ee us not even wearing a belt lol

    • Author

      Europe has its own crash tests. The new Merc A-class has 211 hp and costs 35-55% more, depending on options.

  10. I am waiting for MB A class hot hatch same specs 2liter turbo 250 hp 🙂 it be one awesome awesome ride lets see plus I am sure vw will get run for its money

  11. Hey Mash, nice review and nice car too…had a feeling that only germans can top the HB super charged cars, amazed to see a ford member…a compact HB but still a super car on road…now that is called engineering…i love manual gear.

  12. Good to see M/T like this, awesome car seat “Recaro” you don’t have to think upgrading/customize your car you can find it here. FORD Rocks! m/

  13. Kudos for an honest review!in spite of manual hatchbacks coming to UAE in recent years none has made more sense with the right combo of value, utility and power.

  14. If I would be playing the Grand Theft 5 this summer..I don’t mind playin it bad with the Ford Focus S/T as my getaway ride!!!

  15. Now this is one hot hatch which is practical as well… Was in the market and this hot hatch is tempting..

  16. I own a Race Red ST with 6000 miles and all I can tell you is this car out handles my Mazda3 and has much more useable power low in the rev range. This car is the most fun to drive car I have owned.

  17. Thanks Mash, good review.

  18. Very good VFM sports hatch which can give tough competition to VW golf and Mini Cooper !!!

  19. There’s a big gap at the front edge of the bonnet, apparently to let air into the engine compartment, but it’ll always look like the bonnet isn’t fully closed.

    thats interesting

  20. Very descent power coming from 2.0 L engine, yet not fast enough to beat Golf 7 GTI, Mercedes benz A250, or BMW 328!.

    Considering price, I see it one of the most dynamic look, powerful, sporty features, reliable, petrol efficient, and fastest car you can get.

    • MK7 Golf R I agree. But other cars that you have listed is way easy to smoke. Merc A250 is the easiest followed by Golf GTI and finally BMW 328i.

  21. Mashfique has given the best review till date.Besides its average rear-seat legroom and some
    reduced boot space,its a good betting of money.Moreover,it has an awesome ride and handling
    and it is a great value for money.So i personally think,who ever needs a hatch,must go for this as this is freakingly brilliant and wont surely give me fatigue on a daily drive basis,which i consider the most important.

  22. That interior looks cheap!!!! Gti has a much more refined interior and a beautiful steering wheel!

    I would rather spend an extra 20k and get a Gti

  23. I got a month ago the first Tangerine scream ST in the UAE, I have owned in the past many hatch and one of them was the amazing Ford Escort RS cosworth, the torque, noise, power and price is not comparable to any other actual hot hatch in the market.

  24. Nice review. I like the part you said ford is doing what honda used to be and VW is moving away. I took the car for a goog half hour test drive. Great and fun ride. Kudos to Ford for getting a car which could be a drivers daily commute for true petrol heads. Recaros, Manual Transmission, Turbo charger, eco boost enginetechnology, Made in Germany Car, super styling all for under 95k. You cant get better at the moment.

  25. it’s about time the GCC market gets a fun- to- drive car that many can afford..
    small hot hatches need not big space in the back, nor boot enough to hold large bags etc..
    just get one for the fun of driving .. keep the M/T … reduce the extras and kits on the outside..

  26. I am fascinated w/ ST. Wish I could have one in the coming days. I love it. Will test drive soon b4 purchasing. My other options are Juke and Rav-4…but when I saw this Sports car I changed my mind. Just recently (barely a month)came here in Riyadh.

  27. Focus ST is the best vfm car available now in the market. Its a pocket rocket and can easily do 0-100 under 6 seconds. With minor mods you can even bring v8 cars to shame. Trust me. I am a proud owner

  28. Great review!!!!
    As a proud 2015 RS owner, I have to concur that it’s a fun car to drive, and I believe that is a great car for the value!!!

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