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Car Review: 2014 Ford Focus Hatchback ST

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As the Ford Focus continues posting very impressive worldwide sales figures, one need not wonder what the Blue Oval will do to continue building momentum behind this Focus nameplate. Ford has at last released the long-awaited Focus ST, which absolutely takes the compact car segment to new and wonderful heights. The all-new Focus ST is Ford’s first truly global performance car, building on the heritage of previous Focus ST models in Europe and giving drivers around the world the opportunity to share the exhilarating performance, excellent handling, addictive sound and sporty design that Ford’s ST badge represents. With innovative technologies throughout, the Focus ST will be highly fuel efficient too. Yes, the 2014 Ford Focus Hatchback ST was one of our favorite reviews in recent times for numerous reasons, and we’ll let you know why below.

EXTERIOR

From the striking one-piece design interpretation of Ford’s signature trapezoidal grille at the front, through the sculpted side skirts and dynamic rear bumper with prominent diffuser-style vents in the lower fascia, Focus ST’s design adds aggression and aerodynamic stability. The highly effective roof spoiler is optimized to deliver improved high-speed stability and reduced drag, while the unique center-exit exhaust sports a tailpipe design influenced by the exclusive hexagonal mesh of the front bumper.

The well-recognized Focus ST style extends to the iconic Y-shaped alloy wheels. Wrapped around the rado grey 18-inch wheels are high-performance 235/40R-18 Goodyear Eagle F1 Asymmetric 2 tires, developed after rigorous testing on all kinds of road surfaces and in all kinds of conditions. These dynamic features together play a huge role in what Ford has accomplished her, as the 2014 Ford Focus Hatchback ST truly resembles a sports car rather than a compact. The Focus ST turned heads wherever we drove the car, and we realized quickly that the Focus ST was a superstar on the road! The performance blue paint was also a real winner that just highlighted all of the muscular curves and highpoints of the ST.

INTERIOR

When you first enter the cabin of the 2014 Ford Focus Hatchback ST, the first thing you notice are the black and blue partial leather recaro sports seats that look like they would fit nicely into a track-only racing car. These seats are not for the buyer looking for bland looks and passive seating, as these ST sports seats wrap around your body and keep you nice and snug for those tight corners. The dashboard is closing in on perfection with a well laid out instrument panel and a smart center console with armrest with storage and room for two good size cups. The leather-wrapped sport steering wheel with the ST branding was super cool and again an upgrade from just about anything you can find stock from the factory. An illuminated entry, MyFord touchscreen with Sirius, dual zone electric air temp control, navigation system and one of the top stereo systems in this price range is also included. We fit four adults somewhat comfortably in the Focus ST and felt there was ample storage in the hatch area.

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PERFORMANCE

This is where the 2014 Ford Focus Hatchback ST really earns its stripes, as the Focus ST was developed along Ford’s core DNA for future global performance cars. The attributes for steering, driving dynamics, sound quality and power enhancements were defined by the Global Performance Vehicles group. Focus ST is powered by the 2.0-litre Ford EcoBoost engine, which offers an uncompromising mix of performance and efficiency. Ford’s lightweight, all-aluminum EcoBoost engines provide the power of a larger engine in a fuel-efficient smaller displacement, leveraging three key technologies. High-pressure direct injection, low-inertia turbocharging and twin independent variable camshaft timing (Ti-VCT) create an advanced combustion system that brings new levels of performance and fuel efficiency, as well as reduced CO2 emissions. Ford developed a 184 kW high-output derivative of the 2.0-liter EcoBoost engine for Focus ST, which delivers strong torque levels in a broad, flat torque curve peaking at 360 Nm. The responsive torque output, a trademark of EcoBoost engines, is maintained despite the impressive peak figures. Fuel efficiency is respectable, with the ST delivering 23mpg in the city and 32mpg in highway driving.

This is the first time Ford has used a Ford EcoBoost engine in a high-performance model. Drivers have a lot of power and torque at their disposal throughout the rev range. For everyday driving, though, the characteristics of this car allow you to drive in a more fuel-efficient way than previously, which is an essential part of the ST’s DNA. Mated to the 2.0-litre engine is a six-speed manual transmission, which has specially revised gearing to produce the maximum punch from each throw of the gearshift. Significant attention was paid to ensure the ratio of sixth gear was perfectly in tune with the Focus ST, giving the driver optimum performance while remaining long enough to help maintain excellent fuel economy on longer runs. The six-speed transmission as tested was superb in both ease of shifting when hitting high speeds and before and after turning and downshifting. Ford sound engineers also gave the engine a fantastic note by reworking the famed sound, first found on the previous Focus ST and subsequently employed on European Focus RS and RS500 models.

Incredible driving dynamics are at the heart of the Focus ST. Innovation and technology combine to create a chassis capable of exceeding the expectations of even the most demanding enthusiast, while giving novice drivers an unforgettable experience. The unique system makes steering less sensitive when driving in a straight line, but increases the sensitivity during cornering. Drivers can keep their hands firmly on the steering wheel through tight hairpins, maximizing their control over the car. It also has benefits in slow-speed situations such as tight parking maneuvers, with less input needed from the driver to direct the car into the space.

The Focus ST’s electric power-assisted steering (EPAS) is also enhanced with Ford’s torque steer compensation. More aggressive tuning of the torque steer compensation allows drivers to accelerate at full throttle yet still find grip on roads with uneven surfaces. The system detects the torque steer that those conditions can create and communicates with the EPAS software, which then counteracts the effect to virtually eliminate the sensation for the driver. Further enhancements have been made to the Focus ST’s Electronic Stability Program (ESP), with emphasis placed on driver enjoyment. Drivers will have three modes to choose from according to weather and road conditions, or simply to match the driver’s desire for help from additional driving aids. To help tackle corners, the Focus ST is equipped with a tuned version of the Torque Vectoring Control found on the new Focus. The Focus ST’s Enhanced Torque Vectoring Control applies steering pressure more aggressively and also adds cornering control, which applies torque to create a yaw effect based on the car’s understeer, both in power-on and power-off conditions. Working in harmony with the advanced driver-assistance features is the finely tuned suspension setup of the new Focus ST. Upgraded shock absorbers and springs lower the ST chassis for a more aggressive stance, while the center of gravity is brought closer to the road, which aids precise cornering.

The rear suspension has been revised with a number of new parts developed specifically for the Focus ST. Key components are the uprated suspension knuckles and an all-new anti-roll bar design, both the result of the development team’s desire to give drivers an outstanding amount of feedback and control. The overall ride and handling has been aggressively attacked by Ford with what we see as a serious investment in the Focus ST, and maybe so much that this car should just be called the ST and let it stand on its own, as she is more than capable!

OVERVIEW

It’s no secret that we’re a big fan of the 2014 Ford Focus Hatchback ST for a slew of reasons, with price being one of them. Our test model came in with a sticker price of $28,465, which is a big discount compared to similar performance cars in the market. You really have to remove the Focus from the ST to truly appreciate what this car has to offer. The Focus itself is a huge hit in the small car biz for Ford, but considering just how powerful the ST is in looks and performance, it really takes it far from the base Focus. Being a part of the Focus family, however, means that you can purchase this beast for under 30k, which is why we want the ST to remain a Focus for all of our fellow speed fans out there. Go out and test drive the 2014 Ford Focus Hatchback ST with road-gripping dynamics and see if you agree with your friends at Bullz-Eye.com!

  

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