March 21st will be the one year anniversary of my owning my ST. It's been through a nice summer, a cold fall, an interesting winter, and now on it's second spring. I think I can comfortably give Oppo and Jalopnik's beloved(or overrated) a fair review.
I'm supposed to do one of those "disclaimer or disclosure things", so here goes!
(Ford wanted me to drive this car so badly, that they made the main output shaft in my 2008 Saturn Astra's transmission blow out with low miles which called for a new trans that pissed my dad off and gave us a reason to sell the Astra and put that money towards a down payment on a 2014 Ford Focus ST1 that had to be dealer traded because apparently no one had a Performance Blue ST1 within driving distance last March!)
It's a hot hatch that seems to either follow the same trend that muscle cars followed back in the day: take a regular car, and spruce it up and make it look more sporting and aggressive!
Well, Ford definitely did that with this car. Compared to the regular Focus, the 2014 ST has what can easily be described as a "body kit". Side skirts, a bigger rear spoiler for aerodynamics, a more detailed rear bumper with diffusers that don't work, and new front facia with a gaping maw of a mouth that has given the car a very catfish-like appearance. It looks mean, it looks different, and it looks like it's frowning upon everything it looks at. It clearly looks to be a good'ole Euro hot hatch, and not something American like a Cavalier Z24.
You're also riding on some decent 18 inch rims and they fit the car well.
If I can go on a bit of a tangent, the one thing I like about the 2014 compared to the 2015 ST is the fact that it doesn't look like any other Ford currently made accept maybe the Fiesta ST. The thing that bothers me most about the 2015 is that it now looks like a Ford, but every other Ford, with the smaller corporate face now adorning just about everything but the Escape and more Fusion-esque front end, it looks good, but it's kinda.....meh.
(I am running the Ford Racing Catback which does sound quite nice in my opinion!)
Since this is the ST1(the stripper of the ST family), the interior is very spartan compared to the rest of the STs, and I like that. No distracting touch screen with the annoying MFT, no unnecessary dual-zone climate control, nothing more than the basic amenities that you would find in a regular car. You have single-zone climate control, a basic radio with a small screen that's reminiscent of a Nokia phone, and basic cloth seats with a fair amount of bolstering.
Lets talk about these seats for a second. They're the exact same seats in the regular Focus SE with the "sport package". Compared to either of the Recaro options, these are perfect for the purpose of this car for me: a commuter car. These seats will suck if you ever want to do an autoX or any similar form of driving. They hold you enough that you can have a reasonable amount of fun, just don't ask for too much out of the seats. The Recaros will be fine for daily driving as well, for me at least. For bigger people, such as my dad(6' tall and 250lbs), it may work out, but I highly recommend trying out all the seats if possible before making a decision.
As for the quality of the interior, it's good enough for me. The dash and top of the front doors are a relatively soft-touch plastic material, but what clearly looks like plastic, is plastic and does feel very "Mattel". The steering wheel is weather-wrapped and feels very good in the hand, as do the shifter and e-brake. The buttons for the radio and other controls feel decent and responsive as well.
Also, cargo space is most exceptional! It could haul all of my college stuff to and from campus on multiple occasions, and even this 302 short block!
Powering this hot hatch is Ford's 2.0L Ecoboost engine. The N/A focus makes 160hp, this car makes 252hp and 270lb/ft of torque. I want to believe Ford underrated the 0-60, because this car feels like it easily achieves 60mph in well under 6 seconds without much effort. Many reviews have talked about torque steer, but I never really felt it unless my car was tuned, which it was for a short while. It's a very low-torquey motor obviously, good enough to get you unstuck from the snow on your own. I do have some gripes with it though:
1. I'm not going to lie and say there isn't any turbo lag, but there is. And It's very noticeable when you want to get going quickly and you're below 2000rpm. If you want to get places in a hurry, stay above 2000rpm.
2. This engine pulls, and pulls, then gives up after a very short period. It almost feels like it gives up at about 4-4500rpm. It has a very low and what I can only describe as a very short ideal powerband between 2000-4500 rpm. I guess I'm just used to ringing an engine out to higher than the 4k range. I'm sure a tune could sort that out right quick.
3. I wanted to make this it's own section, but it has everything to do with acceleration so...
Let me say first, we didn't get this car for the sake of fuel efficiency or MPGs, we got it for the performance per dollar. Even so, I personally would have liked to have been getting decent MPG with this car; hell I would like to get close to the EPA average, but that's a proper challenge. You're not going anywhere if you stay below 2000, and your on the turbo if you're anywhere north of 2000rpm. Over the course of almost 15,000 miles, I've struggled to get so much as 23MPG, and mind you that's the EPA's city MPG. I'm not going to lie and tell you I haven't been boosting places and driving hard sometimes, but even when I've driven like a "civilized" human being, I still struggled to get so much as 21!
But FINALLY, for the first time in this entire year of owning this car, last week, I finally got close to the EPA average, I got 25.5MPG, about damn time. I don't know what changed because I haven't changed my driving habits much if at all
Don't buy this car if fuel efficiency is a priority, because you're not gonna have a good time driving like a granny to get that MPG. It's great for the freeway, The complete opposite if city driving is your thing.
*Results on MPG will very from driver to driver.*
In short, it really is a "jack of all trades" motor.
The brakes aren't bad at all on this car. Pedal feels firm, and the car brakes better than any other car I've driven. It'll brake hard if you need it to. I can't say much is wrong with them to be honest.
(I painted my calipers yellow)
Oh, and I forgot to mention, brake dust is such a pain in the ass with this car. You must be on top of that if you want clean wheels all the time.
It's got a nice sporty suspension and ride, and it's smooth on smooth roads. But I live in Michigan, and pothole season has begun. It isn't terrible, but my definition of terrible could be different from yours. I've taken my 944 out once, and it just doesn't compare, you will feel every potholes shock your body in the 944, the Focus does soften them up and is a very tolerable and quaint ride. Not perfect, but just right.
It does an excellent job in the snow as well. Keeping everything together with snow, ice, slush and potholes!
The ST does quite well in the handling department. Even though the electric assisted power steering is very noticeable and it will be light at low speeds and heavy at higher speeds. It does it's best to provide the best connection to the road it can. Compared to the ancient power steering in my 944, and the electric hydraulic steering in my Astra which was simply fantastic, the Focus ST just doesn't provide the same amount of effort or feel the other two provided me; granted, the the Astra doesn't handle anything like the ST, and the 944 is a different, more exciting kind of fun. It does well for daily driving and probably would be good enough for sporty driving of any kind; I just wish it had a little more heft to the wheel.
If there's one thing I love about the car, it's the unnatural ability to slide the rear end out a bit when the car is in "sport mode" or the stability control is disabled. It's very nice to have a car that you can turn the nannies off completely and drive the car yourself. This car will handle with much confidence and excitement; even with winter tires in the snow! This car is very fun in parking lots in the winter! This car will play in any weather provided you have the appropriate tires to match the season.
But if there's one thing I hate about the handling, the turning circle is HUGE for this kinda car. At almost 40ft, you will feel this in tight places like parking lots and U-turns, but it could be worse, right?
It's a Getrag 6-speed manual gearbox, no automatic(lookin at you, Abarth and VW)! I have quite a few gripes with it.
The clutch has no feel. I've had many people drive my car who have driven manuals for much longer than I have, I only started when I got the ST last March. Seeing as I had no other cars to compare it to at the time, I thought it was normal. Now, after driving a cable clutch 911, a weird EK Civic sedan, and a hydraulic clutch 944, I agree with them. The clutch is essentially a switch, on or off. It's nice that it's light for daily driving, but it's too damn light in my opinion.
The shifter is nice in the hand and the shifts are notchy and smooth; it's easy to put it in gear and hard to miss a gear. But sometimes it doesn't go into gear completely...It's happened three times to me and grinded two of those times...Yuck!
The ST1 sound system is the same as the base Focus sound system, a 6 speaker system. It's basic is all hell, and it's not the best. It's okay, not as good as the ST2 or ST3 which can come with the Sony 10-speaker system and subwoofer. Then again, I'm not an audiophile so it doesn't really concern me much anyway.
Remember how I said how the interior is "Spartan"? You'll not find many toys in here, if any. You can mess with the traction and stability control. There's no My Ford Touch(thank god), and you have gauges that adorn the top of the dash for your oil temperature, oil pressure, and boost pressure(but it kinda sucks) which is kinda fun to watch.
There are also voice commands and recognition for your phone, and many other things. That's really all of it that's worth noting.
Even with all the good and bad, this car is still excellent value for the money. We got ours a year ago for $22k, but of course they're even cheaper nowadays. I think it's as cheap or cheaper than new or used Fiesta STs now, so you're spoiled for choice really if you want a hot hatch. At the time, another $3-4k would have netted me an ST2, another $5k for an ST3. Still, even with not much in the way of features, this simple hot hatch is definitely worth something to many.
After a year of ownership, I'm not in love with this car as much as I was when it was first delivered. I wish I looked at all the options I had in the price, I wish I had done a little more research and gone on more test drives. To be fair, I did drink the ST kool-aid that Oppo and Jalopnik was spreading last spring, and it's not like they were wrong, but it was very much overhyped.
It's a damn good car, but if I had the chance to do it again with what I know now and how much more knowledge I've gained in the past year, I'd be in a different car.
Engine: 2.0L "Ecoboost" turbocharged direct-injection 4-cylinder/252hp @ 5200rpm, 270lb-ft @ 2500rpm w/Overboost raising pressure to 21psi for up to 15 sec intervals.
Fuel Economy: 23/32/26(Good luck!)
Transmission: Getrag 6-speed manual
Drivetrain: Transverse FWD
Weight: 3223lbs(But I bet suspect it may be slightly lighter being an ST1)
0-60: 6.2 secs(Apparently)
Top Speed: 155mph(Gov.)
MSRP: $24,370(For 2015)