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2014 Ford Focus ST REVIEW

Edmunds.com logo Edmunds.com 4/3/2017

Con: Finicky infotainment controls; no automatic transmission offered; optional Recaro seats can be uncomfortable on long drives.

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Interior: The interior of the Focus ST shows how compact cars now blend utility with an appreciation for fine materials and leading-edge design. This cockpit is attractive and the materials are best in class. And just as you'd expect in a performance car, the driving position is excellent, and the optional Recaro front seats offered in the ST2 and ST3 have large side bolsters that keep you very secure during hard cornering. We recommend sitting in the Recaro seats before deciding if they're for you, however, as many drivers find them to be uncomfortable for long drives.

The layout of some gauges and controls is a little complicated, particularly the optional MyFord Touch system. It provides some neat customization possibilities, but in real-world operation we've found that it's prone to glitches. In addition, its virtual buttons are hard to identify at a glance, often get pressed accidentally or fail to respond properly. That said, the technologies controlled by MyFord Touch and the Sync voice command system help set the Focus ST apart from the pack.

The rear seat is slightly shorter on legroom than the accommodations of other small hatchbacks, but overall utility is excellent, with 23.8 cubic feet of space with the 60/40-split rear seats up and a generous 44.8 cubic feet with them folded down.

Body: The 2014 Ford Focus ST is a performance-oriented version of the Focus four-door hatchback. There is no sedan version.

Standard equipment includes 18-inch alloy wheels; performance summer tires; performance brakes; an electronically controlled limited-slip front differential; keyless ignition and entry; full power accessories; air-conditioning; cruise control; a leather-wrapped tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel; a 60/40-split-folding seatback; the Sync voice-activated phone and audio player interface; and a six-speaker sound system with a CD player, USB/iPod interface and an auxiliary audio jack.

The ST2 package (Equipment Group 201A) adds Recaro front sport seats, cloth/leather upholstery, dual-zone automatic climate control, the MyFord Touch electronics interface with an 8-inch touchscreen display and a 10-speaker Sony sound system with HD radio and satellite radio.

The ST3 package (Equipment Group 202A) includes the ST2's features and adds xenon headlights, heated mirrors, heated front Recaro seats, full leather upholstery, a rear armrest, an overhead interior console, ambient interior lighting and a navigation system.

Stand-alone options include a dark gray finish (with red-painted brake calipers) for the standard 18-inch wheels, a sunroof and a set of black racing stripes that run from the front of the car to the rear bumper.

Driving: Just as you'd expect from a car in this category, the 2014 Ford Focus ST bristles with performance, and the sound that the turbocharged engine makes as it revs toward 6,000 rpm is thrilling. The precision of the steering and the crisp action of the six-speed manual transmission make you feel as if you're in touch with this car's mechanical soul.

Equally striking is the Focus ST's composure during harder driving. Special tuning of the electric-assist power steering, electronic differential control and stability control systems helps maintain traction without making the car feel clumsy. And if you're looking for more excitement on a back road (or planning to sign up for a track day), you can dial the stability control into a more permissive setting or switch it off altogether.

For day-to-day driving, the Focus ST is still quite livable. The suspension tuning is certainly firm, but outside of the GTI, this is the best-riding performance hatchback you'll find. It's also fairly quiet, as the engine really makes itself heard only during hard acceleration.

What’s New: The 2014 Ford Focus ST is unchanged other than newly optional gray-painted wheels (with red-painted brake calipers) and optional exterior black stripes.

The signature feature of the front-wheel-drive 2014 Ford Focus ST is a turbocharged 2.0-liter inline four-cylinder engine that delivers 252 hp and 270 lb-ft of torque. It's matched with a six-speed close-ratio manual transmission.

In Edmunds testing, the Ford Focus ST accelerated from zero to 60 in 6.6 seconds, a quick time for this class of car. The EPA estimates the Focus ST will achieve 26 mpg combined (23 mpg city/32 mpg highway), which also places it near the top of the hot hatch class for fuel economy.

Safety: The 2014 Ford Focus ST comes standard with antilock disc brakes, stability control, front side airbags and side curtain airbags. The Ford Sync system also includes an emergency crash-notification feature that automatically dials 911 when paired with a compatible cell phone. Also standard are blind-spot mirrors and Ford's MyKey system, which can be used to set certain parameters for teen drivers. A rearview camera, offered on the regular Focus, isn't available on the ST.

In Edmunds testing, the Focus ST needed 112 feet to stop from 60 mph, which is an average distance for an affordable performance car with summer tires.

In government crash testing, the Focus received four out of five stars for overall crash protection, with four stars for overall frontal-impact protection and five stars for overall side-impact protection. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety awarded the Focus coupe its highest possible rating of "Good" in the frontal-offset, side and roof-strength tests.

Pro: Powerful turbocharged engine; precise six-speed manual gearbox; sharp handling; poised ride; stylish interior with many high-tech options.

Edmunds Say: The 2014 Ford Focus ST delivers strong hot-hatchback performance, yet doesn't forget to deliver on the poise and polish.

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