Ford Focus ST Guide (2013-2018)Last Updated November 28, 2023 | C.J. Tragakis
As the quintessential American hot hatch, the Ford Focus ST offered the U.S. market a unique driving experience that made it a popular and endearing model. With a quick turbo-four EcoBoost engine, six-speed manual transmission, and sport-tuned suspension, Ford turned the solid but mundane Ford Focus hatchback from a commuter car into a performance car for the ages. Despite the upgrades, the ST didn’t lose an ounce of practicality. The two-box design and easy livability mean that it remains an excellent daily driver. The performance line Focus launched in late 2012 in the U.S. for the 2013 model year.
Sadly, Ford’s response to consumer taste and profit margins means that they are now essentially a “truck and Mustang” company in the U.S., Mexico, and Canada, with only crossovers like the Edge, Escape, and EcoSport to offer to those that would like a four-door passenger vehicle. The Focus ST was discontinued after the 2018 model year.
The ST lives on as a favorite in the enthusiast market, an eager FWD car that’s ready for fun right from the factory but also extremely easy to modify with aftermarket parts. And for those living overseas, the redesigned 2019 Ford Focus ST will offer even better power, handling, and comfort, making it a fantastic blend of daily drivability and performance. There’s even an efficient turbo-diesel option that is less performance-focused but still offers plenty of torque.
We don’t know if or when Ford will bring a small hot hatchback to the American market. It could be five years, it could be never. In the meantime, the Focus ST and the Fiesta ST, offer some of the most fun for the money out of any vehicle, let alone anything as practical and easy-to-daily as they are. Whether you’re a curious enthusiast or a prospective buyer looking to purchase a Focus ST on the used market, check out this definitive guide for all of the information you need to know.
If you’re ready to start adding some performance or visual upgrades to your Focus ST, check out CJ’s wide range of products to find the items on your wishlist.
Ford Focus ST Exterior: Colors and Options
The Ford Focus ST features a number of design elements that were created to differentiate it from the regular Focus hatchback. The overall design was more aggressive, with larger front intakes and grille, larger rear wing, a distinct hexagonal tip center exit exhaust, and unique "snowflake"-style wheels. The rear bumper area and side ground effects were also different from the more commuter-oriented Focus S and SE.
Though the Focus ST was never fully redesigned for the U.S. market, there are two distinct iterations: The 2013-2014 models and the 2015-2018 models. The refresh that occurred for the 2015 model year added some smoother, more modern style to the exterior, though some purists much prefer the original look.
For 2013, only aluminum Y-spoke wheels were available. In 2014, you could upgrade to the same wheel but in a Rado Gray finish. The new split five-spoke wheels, machined aluminum with black-painted pockets, became an option in 2015, often specced with the ST2 and ST3 trim levels.
There were 13 total colors offered for the Focus ST throughout its life:
- Tuxedo Black Metallic (2013, 2014)
- Tuxedo Black (2015)
- Ingot Silver Metallic (2013, 2014)
- Oxford White (2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018)
- Race Red (2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017)
- Tangerine Scream Metallic Tri-Coat (2013, 2014, 2015, 2016)
- Shadow Black (2016, 2017, 2018)
- Magnetic (2015, 2016, 2017, 2018)
- Performance Blue Metallic (2013, 2014)
- Performance Blue (2015)
- Kona Blue (2016, 2017)
- Triple Yellow Tri-Coat (2017, 2018)
- Hot Pepper Red Metallic Tinted Clearcoat (2018)
- Blue Metallic (2018)
Note that Performance Blue was only offered for 2015 (being replaced by Kona Blue the next model year) and that Hot Pepper Red and Blue Metallic were offered only for 2018. While Performance Blue and Performance Blue Metallic look to be based on the same shade, the Metallic seems to offer a brighter shine due to the nature of the paint.
As a $30 option, you could also swap the performance-oriented 235/40 R18 Y-rated summer tires for high-performance all-season tires. This takes away from some of the fun and handling capabilities of the car but was more common in colder climates that see more snow.
Ford Focus ST Interior: Options and Styles
The interior of the Focus ST is largely the same as the traditional Focus, which is a good thing in terms of the practicality it offers. There are an ample number of storage cubbies and the hatchback design gives even more cargo space than the sedan. The central gauge cluster atop the dashboard (oil pressure, boost PSI, and oil temperature) is one of the defining characteristics of the ST. Even more noticeable are the sport seats with "ST" stitching on the front buckets (with either cloth, partial-leather, or full-leather available depending on the trim), and the flat-bottom steering wheel with ST logo. This sporty steering wheel was updated during the 2015 refresh for an even more modern look.
Perhaps the biggest change to the 2016 Focus ST was the introduction of SYNC 3 as the premium infotainment option. It came standard in the ST2 and ST3. Ford's new system replaced the older SYNC with MyFord Touch unit with a more colorful and responsive screen. It also pared back some of the less useful features of the 2nd-gen SYNC system while enhancing its better ones. The upgraded infotainment is one of the major differences between the base ST1 and the ST2/ST3 trims, as we'll see below. Other than that, the interior remained largely the same throughout the life cycle.
Some drivers may bemoan the fact that the 60/40 rear seat folds, but not completely flat. In fact, it does! Simply pull the back part of the bottom cushions forward with a firm yank. This will allow the seat backs to fold completely flush, giving you a flat and nearly flush load area. You may have to remove the rear headrests to accomplish this, depending on the position of the front seats.
Ford Focus ST1 vs ST2 vs ST3 Trim Package Levels
While the ST2 and ST3 seats were labeled and marketed as Recaro, the ST1 seats are actually made by Recaro as well.
The table below looks specifically at the 2017-2018 model year Focus ST trims. Some features, like the sunroof and heated side mirrors, were put in different packages in the years prior. The highly-visible Tangerine Scream-trimmed (or Performance Blue-trimmed) Recaro seats from the ST2 were only offered until 2016. That left only the more subtle Smoke Storm-trimmed seats for the ST2, while the ST3 kept the full-leather Charcoal Black Recaros.
|Net Price (2018, MSRP + Destination Fee)||$26,045||$29,725||$31,725|
|Seats||Unique black cloth with gray (Anthracite) accents||Partial leather with gray (Smoke Storm) accents||Full leather-trimmed black, heated front seats|
|Headlights||Halogen Headlights with LED Daytime Running Lights||HID Headlights with LED Daytime Running Lights and Cornering Lamps||HID Headlights with LED Daytime Running Lights and Cornering Lamps|
|Infotainment||SYNC Base System||SYNC 3 with Navigation||SYNC 3 with Navigation|
|Audio System||6-Speaker with AM/FM, CD, Bluetooth||Sony® 10-Speaker (including subwoofer) with HD Radio||Sony® 10-Speaker (including subwoofer) with HD Radio|
|Steering Wheel||Leather-Wrapped with Audio Controls, Flat Bottom, ST Badging||Leather-Wrapped with Audio Controls, Flat Bottom, ST Badging||Heated, Leather-Wrapped with Audio Controls, Flat Bottom, ST Badging|
|Interior Accents||N/A||N/A||Carbon Fiber Interior Accent Package (Boost gauge trim bezel, door grab handle inserts, e-brake handle, shift knob)|
|Interior Lighting||N/A||N/A||Ambient Lighting|
|Roof||N/A||Power Moonroof||Power Moonroof|
Ford Focus ST Performance: Horsepower and Specs
Until it was redesigned for the 2019 model year to be sold abroad, the Focus ST never saw any changes in engine or transmission, with neither new hardware nor tuning. The well-liked EcoBoost turbo churned out 252 hp and 270 lb-ft of torque, which was more than enough to get the car off the line quickly and send it through corners like nobody’s business. Though not as fast as some rivals and unable to keep pace with the Mustang, it’s tough to find a better balance of power and handling for the money. Plus, the motor is just waiting to be flash-tuned to unlock even more potential. While the official 0-60 mph time is 6.2 seconds, times as quick as 5.9 seconds have been reported and will vary depending on traction and other factors. This isn't absurdly quick, especially when looking at even the EcoBoost Mustang. But the Focus ST's real benefits come in tight switchbacks and sweeping corners, not straight lines.
Although there were no power changes throughout the Focus ST's entire life cycle, the 2015 refresh did bring about some steering and Focus ST suspension revisions to improve handling and ride quality. Along with the new exterior style and availability of SYNC 3 starting in 2016, the later model years may be more appealing to those looking for the best technology possible, even if horsepower and torque were the same.
The Focus ST was designed to provide a somewhat more economical rival to cars like the Volkswagen GTI and Honda Civic Si and Type R. These competitors still exist, as does the Subaru WRX hatchback (which is AWD, not FWD). Hyundai now has their Veloster N, which in some ways seems like one of the purest spiritual replacements for the Focus ST, offering the most bang for the buck of the segment.
Interestingly, the 2015 Ford Focus ST has slightly higher quoted fuel economy than the three model years that would follow (26/23/31 vs 25/22/30). This is most likely due to slight tweaks in EPA testing (though their website indicates that their most recent revisions took place for the 2017 model year). As a side note, you'll get maximum power and efficiency by using 93 octane fuel. While the Focus ST is certified to run on regular 87 octane gas just fine, we'd recommend giving your high-performance turbo engine 93, if possible.
Check out the table below for the official horsepower and torque figures of the Ford Focus ST by year. The non-US 2019 model is included for comparison.
|2012||2.0 liter turbo EcoBoost 4-cylinder||252 hp||270 lb-ft|
|2013||2.0 liter turbo EcoBoost 4-cylinder||252 hp||270 lb-ft|
|2014||2.0 liter turbo EcoBoost 4-cylinder||252 hp||270 lb-ft|
|2015||2.0 liter turbo EcoBoost 4-cylinder||252 hp||270 lb-ft|
|2016||2.0 liter turbo EcoBoost 4-cylinder||252 hp||270 lb-ft|
|2017||2.0 liter turbo EcoBoost 4-cylinder||252 hp||270 lb-ft|
|2018||2.0 liter turbo EcoBoost 4-cylinder||252 hp||270 lb-ft|
|2019||2.3 liter twin-scroll turbo EcoBoost 4-cylinder||276 hp||310 lb-ft|
|2019||2.0 liter turbo diesel 4-cylinder||187 hp||295 lb-ft|
Below, you'll find full specs for the final model year of the Focus ST in the States, 2018.
|2018 Focus ST|
|Horsepower + Engine||252 hp, 2.0 liter turbocharged EcoBoost I-4|
|Width||74.1 inches (80.5 inches including mirrors)|
|Curb Weight||3,214 lbs|
|Cargo Volume Behind Rear Seats||23.3 cubic feet|
|Cargo Volume Behind Front Seats (with Rear Seats Folded)||43.9 cubic feet|
|Fuel Type||87 octane required, 93 octane recommended|
|Fuel Capacity||12.4 gallons|
|MPG (EPA estimated)||25 combined/ 22 city/ 30 highway|
|0-60 mph||6.2 seconds|
|Top Speed||155 mph|
As a side note, there was a second-generation Ford Focus ST in non-US markets such as Europe and Australia/New Zealand from 2005-2011. It used a Volvo-derived 2.5L turbo 5-cylinder motor that generated truly impressive performance for the time, with 221 hp and 236 lb-ft of torque. 0-60 mph came about in just 6.6 seconds and flat-out, the car would do 152 mph.
Unfortunately for the American market, during the same time in the United States, Ford launched a mediocre consolation replacement for the previous Focus SVT that ran from 2002-2004. Called the Ford Focus ZX4 ST, it used a naturally-aspirated 4-cylinder to generate 151 hp and 154 lb-ft of torque. Hardly worthy of the ST badge, this sedan stuck around from 2004-2007 and failed to live up to the beloved Focus SVT that preceded it.
Adding More Power to the Ford Focus ST
The turbocharged engine in the Focus ST is lots of fun straight from the factory, but there’s a massive aftermarket community of enthusiasts who enjoy taking things to the next level. It’s easy to do so, and there are a variety of different methods to explore. From cold air intakes to exhaust systems to flash tunes, it’s easy to get started in personalizing your Focus ST for stronger performance. If you're interested in modding your Focus ST without breaking the bank, check out this article on cheap Focus ST mods. Check out our wide range of products for your engine if you’re ready to get started.
Image Credit: Ford
Sources: 2012 Ford Focus Brochure, Ford | 2013 Ford Focus Brochure, Ford | 2014 Ford Focus Brochure, Ford | 2015 Ford Focus Brochure, Ford | 2016 Ford Focus Brochure, Ford | 2017 Ford Focus Brochure, Ford | 2018 Ford Focus Brochure, Ford | 2019 Ford Focus Brochure, Ford |