Focus ST vs Mustang EcoBoost

Focus ST vs Mustang EcoBoost

Last Updated June 13, 2023 | C.J. Tragakis

After surviving the Great Depression, two World Wars, and the other economic downturns that plagued parts of the 20th Century, it is clear that the Ford Motor Company is here to stay.

Ford has produced countless fine automobiles over the past 100 years and has shown its ability to adapt to customer needs and trends within the industry.

In 2009, the Blue Oval launched a major development to help the organization maintain its place at the top.

front view of a silver Focus ST

That innovation was the EcoBoost engine.

Ford’s EcoBoost line is a series of engines, both turbocharged and direct-injection, with the ultimate goal of requiring fewer cylinders to help increase overall fuel efficiency. The all-new EcoBoost technology marked a perfect union between performance and efficiency, and the engines soon became fixtures in a host of Ford cars and trucks.

Several years after the initial launch of the EcoBoost line and the Ford Focus’ debut in the United States, American drivers welcomed the Focus ST to the Western Hemisphere. Among its many exciting attributes and accessories, the five-door Ford Focus ST featured, you guessed it, an EcoBoost motor.

Ford fans in the good ole US-of-A immediately fell in love with the Focus ST, with autocross enthusiasts and other performance drivers especially taking a liking to it. The quick and nimble hot hatch helped jumpstart the Ford Motor Company’s goal of bringing its hatchbacks to the United States. The Fiesta ST and Focus RS later followed its lead.

2018 EcoBoost Mustang

On the heels of the ST’s growth in popularity, more and more Ford vehicles added EcoBoost options to their engine lines, including the Mustang.

For many years, pony car owners chose between V8 and V6 motors, but for the genesis of the Mustang’s sixth-generation, the Ford Motor Company unveiled a four-cylinder EcoBoost as a third option under the hood. Equipped with a running horse decal on the rear, EcoBoost Mustangs exploded in popularity in 2015, as muscle car aficionados simply could not get enough of its turbocharged capabilities.

EcoBoost Mustangs grew so prominent that for the 2018 refresh, Ford elected to put the V6 engine out to pasture for the foreseeable future, leaving the four-cylinder motor as the lone alternative to the V8s found in the GT units. Some muscle car purists sneered at the idea of a four-cylinder engine in a Mustang, but many of those naysayers went silent after observing the performance stats in which 2018 EcoBoost offered.

So which turbocharged Ford product is better: The EcoBoost Mustang or the Focus ST? This article compares and contrasts the pony car and the hot hatch from an appearance and performance standpoint, and will hopefully provide readers with an idea as to which vehicle is best for them.

Focus ST vs EcoBoost Mustang Engine Comparison

What’s old is new again.

In addition to the new body style and other exterior changes, the genesis of the Ford Mustang’s Sixth Generation marked the return of the four-cylinder motor to the pony car’s engine lineup for the first time in nearly 30 years.

Despite its absence from the Fox Body, SN95, and S197 eras, the four-cylinder engine holds a unique place in Ford Mustang lore. With the oil crisis and new emission regulations both looming large in the mid-1970s, the Ford Motor Company introduced a modest four-cylinder engine option for the Mustang II period.

2018 EcoBoost Mustang Engine

In the past when Mustang enthusiasts referred to four-cylinder motors, they did so with contempt and a degree of sarcasm… But that all changed with the introduction of the EcoBoost engine.

While you’ll never be able to please many V8 purists, the EcoBoost units proved to be a welcomed addition to the pony car family and became integral cogs in the proverbial Mustang wheel.

It is nowhere near what the GT puts out, but the performance numbers for the 2018 Mustang EcoBoost turned numerous heads throughout the muscle car community upon its release.

The 2018 Mustang EcoBoost model contains a 2.3L GTDI I-4 engine that is capable of producing 310 hp and 350 lb-ft of torque, with a 9.5:1 compression ratio. As if that was not impressive enough, 2018 EcoBoost Mustangs can travel from 0-60 MPH in less than five seconds.

The stats from the factory are impressive, but many Mustang EcoBoost owners still crave that V8 power. If you wish to add more boost to your EcoBoost Mustang, the easiest way is to add a larger turbo. The twin-scroll IWG turbocharger setup from the factory allows for little-to-no spool time and a quick boost, but you are still leaving plenty of untapped horsepower and torque on the table.

Adding an aftermarket turbo to your build will funnel more air into the motor, which will turn up the boost and allow your engine to create even more power!

2017 Focus ST Engine

While the Focus RS is fitted with a similar 2.3L engine as the EcoBoost Mustang, the ST looks a little different under the hood. The Ford Focus ST features a slightly smaller 2.0L EcoBoost motor that pushes out 250 hp and 270 lb-ft of torque. Not to be outdone, the nimble Focus ST can travel from 0-60 MPH in 6.1 seconds, while boasting a quarter-mile time of 14.5 seconds.

As is the case with its Mustang counterpart, there are a number of ways in which you can add even more boost to your ST’s 2.0L motor. Working in conjunction with its EcoBoost engine, the Ford Focus ST is equipped with a K03 turbocharger, which leaves plenty of wiggle room for future aftermarket mods if you so choose.

And if you’re worried about creating too much heat under the hood, The K03 turbocharger can withstand over 1,900 degrees Fahrenheit, which is roughly 200 degrees greater than the industry standard for turbochargers!

Focus ST vs EcoBoost Mustang Major Differences

Now that we have compared and contrasted the respective four-cylinder motors, we can shine some light on the other major differences between an EcoBoost Mustang and a Focus ST.

Both Ford cars feature a number of dissimilarities in their respective drivetrains. Like all Ford Focus trims, minus the RS, the Focus ST is a front-wheel-drive vehicle. In contrast, like the rest of the pony car lineup, EcoBoost Mustangs feature a rear-wheel-drive system.

The rear-wheel-drive setup is more ideal for performance driving, but believe it or not, the Focus ST actually features larger wheels than its pony car rival. The Ford Focus ST leaves the factory with 18” x 8” wheels, while the base EcoBoost Mustang comes equipped with 17” x 7.5” wheels. If you are unsatisfied with the 17” stock rims, however, there are plenty of aftermarket Mustang wheels available that will allow you to add your own personal stamp to your build.

2018 Mustang EcoBoost 2018 Mustang EcoBoost in Race Red

In addition to the overall shape and size of each respective vehicle, the different sized wheels are one of the first things in which casual onlookers will notice when comparing and contrasting an EcoBoost Mustang and a Focus ST. While they are both dual exhaust vehicles, the tailpipe location is different for both the Mustang and the ST.

The EcoBoost Mustang features the standard dual exhaust system with one tailpipe on each side of the vehicle, while the Focus ST leaves the factory with a center-mounted single-tip setup. As is the case under the hood of each Ford car, there are plenty of aftermarket exhaust upgrades available for both the EcoBoost Mustang and Focus ST.

The EcoBoost Mustang and Focus ST also differ in terms of transmission options available. The four-cylinder ‘Stang features both manual and automatic options. The standard six-speed manual transmission has been a fixture since the EcoBoost Mustang made its debut, and for 2018, the Ford Motor Company introduced an innovative 10-speed automatic transmission to the lineup. A six-speed manual transmission is standard for the Focus ST.

Focus ST vs EcoBoost Mustang Special Editions

In addition to being more fuel-efficient, the availability of a special Performance Package was one of the biggest benefits of an S550 EcoBoost over a traditional V6 model. For less than $2,000, Mustang fans could purchase an EcoBoost Premium Package that featured a host of exciting innovations, both on the inside and out.

Along with a unique chassis tune, some of the highlights of the Mustang EcoBoost Performance Package include custom 19”x9” Ebony Black-painted aluminum wheels, 255/40R19 summer-only tires, 13.9" front brake rotors with four-piston calipers among many others. For the Fastback models, the EcoBoost Mustang Performance Package contains heavy-duty springs and a larger rear sway bar.

2018 Mustang EcoBoost 2018 Mustang EcoBoost With Performance Package

The extra $2,000 cost might be a deal-breaker for perspective Ford owners who are on a tight budget, but the upgraded package will allow you to enjoy your four-cylinder pony to the fullest while elevating your muscle car above your fellow EcoBoost and V6 counterparts.

The Focus ST is technically a performance-oriented version of the Ford Focus, but the hot hatch offers three different trim options of its own. For certain model years, hatchback fans can purchase either the Focus ST-1, ST-2, or ST-3 trims. Each package is unique in its own right, with the number of bells and whistles reaching its peak with ST3.

Obviously, the ST-1 is the most basic option available still contains special Recaro seats along with a host of infotainment options. The ST-2 offers Ford owners many more opportunities to personalize their hot hatches, including an increased amount of color options available. The package costs roughly $1,700 more than the ST-1, but the heated steering wheel and more advanced navigation system will make everything worth it.

Finally, the Ford Focus ST-3 offers the ultimate American hatchback experience. It may be over $2,000 more expensive than its ST-2 sibling, but there is very little which the ST-3 package does not offer. The Focus ST-3 offers a slew of exciting features, both inside and out, including adaptive front lighting, keyless entry, and full leather Recaro seats among many others.

The Focus ST-3 is a true marvel of modern technology and with its red brake calipers and ‘rock metallic’ 18” alloy wheels, it certainly looks the part of a high-performance vehicle. There is a lot to like about a stock Focus ST and an EcoBoost Mustang, but if you want to accomplish even more on the roadway or the track, there are plenty of ways in which you can live out all of your dreams in your pony car or hot hatch!

Focus ST vs EcoBoost Mustang Conclusion

Being labeled as the younger sibling is never fun, but the reality is, both the Focus ST and EcoBoost Mustangs have a “little brother” stigma attached to them. The Focus ST pushes out nearly 100 horsepower less than the Focus RS, and many auto enthusiasts are quick to point out the latter’s superiority over the former from a performance standpoint.

Similarly, as far as it has come in such a short period of time, some people within the Mustang community are still quick to dismiss the EcoBoost option, claiming “V8 or bust.”

However, as we have discussed in the article, the Focus ST and EcoBoost Mustang have plenty to offer, and with the right aftermarket upgrades, both four-cylinder builds can outclass their larger rivals on the autocross course, the dragstrip, and the track.

So who wins the EcoBoost Mustang vs. Focus ST debate? Well, that depends on what you are looking for.

If raw performance stats are the end-all-be-all, then the answer is obviously an EcoBoost Mustang. The pony car tops the hot hatch across the board. Similarly, if you are a Mustang person, you will likely be a Mustang person for life. The Focus ST has long been a more practical alternative to the pony car, but there is nothing quite like owning a Mustang, and regardless of what you have under the hood, you are still a member of one of the most tight-knit automotive communities on the planet.

2017 Focus ST 2017 Focus ST in Triple Yellow

On the other hand, if you are not somebody that is wowed solely by performance numbers, then you can make a solid argument for the Ford Focus ST. Cost is always an important factor to weigh in when purchasing a car, and the Focus ST is roughly $500 cheaper than the EcoBoost Mustang.

Along with the lighter price tag, the Focus ST is more fuel-efficient and more backseat passenger-friendly than a Mustang will ever be. The rear of the cab is far more spacious than an EcoBoost Mustang, and the two backseat riders will certainly appreciate the Focus having five doors instead of two. Due to fuel economy and passenger comfort, the Focus ST would likely be a better choice as a daily driver.

Whether you prefer muscle cars or hot hatches, CJ Pony Parts would love to help you modify your build! CJ’s is proud to be your one-stop-shop for the best EcoBoost Mustang parts as well as Focus ST upgrades around! From exterior to interior, to engine and suspension mods, CJ’s has everything that you need to help your car stand out from the pack, both visually and performance-wise.

All of our aftermarket Focus ST parts and EcoBoost Mustang mods come from the most popular and trusted brands out there, so you can rest easy knowing that your build will be in excellent hands for many years to come. What are you waiting for? Head over to CJ Pony Parts for the best Focus ST and EcoBoost Mustang parts on the market today!

This article was researched, written, edited, and reviewed following the steps outlined in our editorial process. Learn more about CJ's editorial standards and guidelines.