The 2013 Ford Focus ST delivers performance like a hot hatchback from Michigan, yet doesn't forget to deliver the poise and polish of a fine European sedan.
It's understandable if you find yourself thinking of the 2013 Ford Focus ST as an exotic model imported from Europe.
The sleek lines of the bodywork surely suggest innovative European style. A 252-horsepower turbocharged engine with direct fuel injection surely suggests exotic European technology. A poised, comfortable ride combined with agile, fluent handling surely suggests European tuning. But as it turns out, the 2013 Ford Focus ST is built in Michigan, and it can be had at a discount price, just as you'd expect from anything made in America.
As small cars have lately taken a more premium aspect in appearance, so, too have these cars also morphed into the kind of high-performance packages that appeal to grown-ups as well as kids. The Honda Civic Si, Mazdaspeed 3, Mini Cooper S, Subaru WRX and Volkswagen GTI all have become respectable as well as fast, and the Ford Focus ST takes its place among them.
To be sure, the Focus ST makes its mark in this group with performance, thanks to its turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, quick-shifting six-speed manual transmission and clever electronics that help make this powerful front-wheel-drive car tractable and easy to drive quickly. Yet more surprising is the availability of features and options that you would expect only from a car with a far grander price, notably the MyFord Touch and Sync electronics interface for the audio and navigation systems.
Just like the Ford Focus itself, the 2013 Ford Focus ST looks and feels as if it should be priced higher, which is just about the highest compliment that can be paid to any automobile. In a way, it offers the best of both worlds offered by the GTI and Mazdaspeed. For performance, it keeps up with the Mazda and outperforms the GTI. And for refinement, it matches the VW and bests the Mazda. It's also much more practical than a Cooper S.
The Focus ST does have a couple drawbacks -- namely the finicky-to-use MyFord Touch interface and the lack of an automated transmission -- but overall we think it's raised the bar for the hot-hatch class.