• Power
    • Looks
    • Handling
    • Minor quality issues (door seals)
    • Technology pack not standard
    • Quiet standard exhaust
    5 Star

    About the Ford Focus

    Sam purchased this Ford Focus used for $28,000 (including all on-road costs) in 2021. Sam would buy this car again because: “Yes, I would buy it again. My Focus ST is an excellent compromise between being a practical and comfortable car for weekly duties, while being a pleasure to carve some corners with over the weekends. So far, if it’s been a packed full airport pickup, winding road of Apollo Bay or countless freeway trips, the ST has handled all with ease and pleasure.”

    How reliable has your car been? Tell us about any issues.

    My ownership began in late November of 2021, during this time I’ve clocked 6000km and have not experienced any major issues. And, rightly so.

    The adhesive holding the door seals is failing, from my research this seems to be a common issue with German-made Focus examples of this vintage. Other minor quality niggles include a slightly loose shift boot which on rare occasions can become un stuck from the clips in the centre console.

    As Courtney and Patterson Ford’s ex demonstrator vehicle, it’s stood the test of time even after what I presume to be a few spirted test drives and weekends away with the management team.

    At only 61,000km I expect no major works needing to be done in the near future, apart from regular maintenance with my local Ford dealership. The previous owner was meticulous, and therefore had all new brake pads and rotors fitted not long before I took ownership.

    From factory, Goodyear Eagle F1 were fitted. Whilst I typically prefer staying with original tyre spec, the previous owner reports better performance from the Michelin Pilot Sport 4 currently fitted. I too agree, they’re good rubber indeed.

    So it’s likely I’ll stick with those going forward. Tyre wear is higher compared to the Ford Escape it sits next to on the drive, for example.

    What do you think of the ownership experience with your car?

    After spending 12 months behind the wheel of a diesel-powered 2017 Mondeo Titanium previously, I was a strong subscriber to the good driving dynamics Ford Europe always delivers on, but was craving more performance and importantly a proper manual gearbox.

    My experience so far has been very positive, even its Race Red paint work has livened up our street in terms of in what’s otherwise a sea of white, silver or grey.

    Currently I benefit from no warranty coverage, whether it be from Ford or a third party. However, I have faith in the reliability of the ST as they have a good track record (unlike some other Focus models). At that, maybe one day I’ll put the helmet back on and go for a track record too.

    Servicing is reasonably priced, especially as there is no complicated transmission to nurture and once again I’ll continue to service within Ford’s dealer network.

    Are you happy with the price and features of your car?

    Even though they don’t get it right all the time, it’s a common theme for Ford Australia to spec performance vehicles to the upper end. More so in recent years anyway. The price and features of my ST are well balanced, owing to the ‘ST2’ trim level. The partial leather Recaro seats are excellent, and often the first comment made by passengers or others who have jumped behind the wheel.

    Some other features that I personally enjoy are the nine-speaker Sony sound system (although not as good as the one in my Mondeo it replaced). The red ambient lighting makes the interior feeling slightly more premium in the darker hours of the night than it otherwise is.

    The adaptive Bi-Xenon headlamps provide good coverage, essential for night driving in regional Victoria that I sometimes embark on, crucial for flagging down kamikaze kangaroos.

    Unfortunately the Technology Package was an option on all LZ Focus ST models, with mine not having that box ticked. So therefore missing out on now very mainstream safety features, such as blind sport monitoring and lane keeping aid. Whilst this doesn’t affect my ownership experience, I find it poor that this wasn’t something fitted as standard by Ford.

    Considering the kilometres and specification of the car, I would regard the money I paid as completely reasonable.

    What do you think of the performance and economy of your car?

    Performance was crucial when deciding on my next car car, and was indeed the motive to move on my previous one.

    Making appearances left right and centre over the years, the 2.0 EcoBoost pumping out a cool 184kW has proven itself in some spirited driving during my ownership.

    Whilst it has plenty of street cred helped by its colour, the exhaust is quieter than I expected. The sound inside is a different story. The sound symposer pumps in a nice deep note. Described by a mate as ‘intoxicating’ I tend to agree.

    Being a probationary driver here in Victoria, the legal limit based on power to weight ratio is 130kW per tonne. In stock form, of which mine will remain at, the ST produces 129.1kW per tonne. With this figure in mind and the razor sharp handling, I really can’t ask for much more.

    Quick to 100, and quick to do that same 100 even with somewhat of a bend.

    The six-speed manual is a good gearbox I enjoy driving. The MMT6 has a short enough throw and is engaging to shift through. Whilst first and second can feel notchy at rare times to shift back into. The clutch is nicely weighted, but doesn’t make the stop start traffic completely unbearable in the way that other performance cars do.

    Sometimes I do miss the feel of a DCT powering along Mondeos that have sat on our driveway before. But manual for me, is the ultimate expression of fun behind the wheel in something reasonably priced such as a Focus.

    I’ve encountered the well-documented torque steer quite a number of times now. Yes, feedback through the wheel shouldn’t be a bad thing in a car like this, however it always lays in the back of your mind when squeezing the throttle harder than your typical trip down to the coffee shop. At times it has been unpleasant, especially if you aren’t prepared for it.

    Understandably, the MK3 and MK3.5 Focus ST were built to a price. And that technology to combat such thing obviously wasn’t seen as affordable by Ford at the time. Compared to now, the latest Fiesta ST has a Quaife limited-slip differential.

    The combined claimed fuel consumption is 7.4L/100km, which is a respectable number. Mine is currently reading 8.5L/100km. It would also be fair to describe that figure as combined, with regular freeway trips and plenty of time in stop-start traffic too. However, it does like to drink like a fish if away from the freeway network for the day.

    What do you think of the technology in your car?

    Once again drawing comparison to my previous car, the step down from SYNC 3 to SYNC 2 was certainly a compromise in connectivity and technology, foregoing Apple CarPlay and a more modern mapping system.

    However, standalone technology is good. For the money, so you would expect it to be. SYNC 2 provides all the basic entertainment I need, importantly still with seamless connection to my phone. Compared to its rivals, at launch the Focus was up-to-date and most of it has stood the test of time.

    Once again, my gripe with the technology package leaves a number of features absent from the German hot hatch. But this was something that was obviously taken into consideration when buying.

    What makes the ST for me, a highly practical car is keyless entry with push button start, dual zone automatic climate control, digital speed display and adaptive Bi-Xenon headlamps. Without these features, I may not have considered the Focus ST despite the fun car it is to drive.

    What do you think of the ride comfort and handling of your car?

    The ST is undoubtedly a product designed towards handling and certainly not comfort. Therefore, I knew what I was in for changing over from the Mondeo. And that’s how I liked it.

    During my time on the freeways, the ST is nothing but comfortable and planted owing to the supportive and frankly excellent seats. But will become largely unsettled over corrugations in the road, notorious on our road network. But doing long distance in this car truly is a breeze, with the multi-link rear suspension also helping in all areas compared to a Fiesta ST of the same vintage for example.

    During my initial test drive, the suspension, steering and brake feel became apparent. Reminding you that, yes it is wearing an ST badge. Not ST-Line nor Sport. Confidence inspiring for all driving.

    In town, it does become clear that if you were a member of the royal family, wanting to be driven back to Buckingham palace in complete composure, the Focus ST probably isn’t for you. Becoming reasonably unsettled, with all bumps in the road making themselves loud and clear.

    But once all of the washboard quality intersections, roundabouts and service lanes of the city are left behind and a stunning road such as that of the Great Ocean Road and surrounding areas of Apollo Bay lay ahead, the ST comes into its own, hosting a very well balanced and fun experience, with the Michelin Pilot Sport 4 tyres encouraging, or should I say egging you on even more.

    The weight of the Focus is noticeable compared to a Fiesta. In the same way it is in a Golf compared to a Polo. Definitely not a criticism, simply an observation.

    Do you have any additional comments about your car?

    Do any readers own LW or LZ ST models? Let me know your experience and if there is anything I should keep in mind.

    Looking forward to the rest of my ownership, certainly being something that will stretch well into the future.

    Overall Rating

    Ride & Handling9
    Price & Features8.5
    Performance & Economy8.7
    Ownership Experience8.8