With the 2013 Focus ST, Ford aims to prove its EcoBoost engine technology isn't just about fuel economy. The turbocharged engine and suspension modifications make the Focus ST a blast to drive and a credible competitor to the Volkswagen GTI and its ilk at a starting price of about $25,000.
Piloting a Tangerine Scream ST in New York City this week was fun. Find a hole in traffic, flex your right ankle, and with a resonant whine, you're there in a heartbeat. Ford makes a big deal about the tube that plumbs the engine intake sound into the cabin whenever you open the throttle—and with good reason. It's loud! If you enjoy driving, it's fun. While it's otherwise quite refined, this car isn't meant to be quiet. (Just look at the paint!)
The 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine is shared with the Edge EcoBoost, Taurus EcoBoost, Escape, and the upcoming Fusion EcoBoost. But instead of replacing a larger V6 engine for better fuel economy, it's used as the top-dog engine for the Focus. In the ST it puts out 252 hp. Don't expect a front-driver that powerful to be free of torque steer, as we found a fair amount on our quick drive around Manhattan. Turbo lag, however, was minimal to non-existent.
It comes in three trims: ST1, ST2, and ST3. The base ST1 starts out at $24,495, and it is the only way to get the ST without MyFord Touch. I can't imagine using such a complicated infotainment system in a car this quick with a stick shift, especially in a bustling city. So, I left it off during my drive.
As the unapologetic performance version of the Focus, the ST comes only with a six-speed manual transmission. If you want one, you'll have to shift yourself. Clutch take-up on our sample car was easy, even around town, and the six-speed felt slick and easy. Eighteen-inch summer tires are also standard. There is no all-season tire option.
The $2,380 ST2 package includes MyFord Touch with Sony audio and HD Radio, along with two-tone partial leather seats color coordinated with one of the six bright exterior colors, and dual-zone climate control. A sunroof is an available option on ST2 and ST3 models for $895. The top-level ST3 we drove includes heated black leather Recaro sports seats, HID headlamps, and ambient interior lighting for $29,430.
The Focus ST comes in six colors: Tuxedo Black, Performance Blue, Race Red, Oxford White, Tangerine Scream, and Ingot Silver. In New York City, the Tangerine Scream car we drove kept getting hailed as a taxicab. It would be one heck of a quick (though small) taxi.
The ST will go on sale late this summer, though you can place your order now.