+ Sharper than standard ST
+ True track day tool
+ Endlessly fun on an empty road
- Manually adjusted suspension won’t suit everyone
- Firm ride gets tiring
- Dated interior and infotainment
Verdict: There’s no doubt Ford has managed to dial in even more fun to its infectious hot hatch, but only the truly committed will get the most out of it. If you only want a hot hatch to liven up the commute then buy the standard ST or wait for the new one.
Slapping the word ‘edition’ - or something similar - onto a car is a tired marketing trick often used by brands to squeeze a few more sales out of an aging model in the autumn of its life. It usually comes with a special paintjob and some meaningless blobs of trim.
But credit to Ford, the Focus ST Edition stands a healthy distance apart from the standard ST. It does have the paintjob and trim – at least it only comes in Azura Blue and is peppered with black details – but underneath it features manually adjustable suspension supplied by KW Automotive.
Ford even chucks in a handbook that recommends settings for different driving environments including, inevitably, a Nürburgring setting - but you’ll need to get your hands dirty to dial them in.
It’s also 10mm lower than the standard car, with a further 20mm drop possible using the spanners. It sits on lighter 19-inch alloys clad in Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tyres, and the springs are more than 50 per cent stiffer. But - and this is interesting - the 2.3-litre turbocharged engine remains unchanged, producing the same 280hp and 420Nm of toque as the normal ST.
This means the ST Edition will appeal most to track hounds who want something they can fully exploit on a circuit thanks to more range in the suspension and the opportunity to fine-tune the setup, rather than just have something nippy to liven up the commute home or dazzle teenagers in a McDonald’s carpark.
Don’t forget, a new generation of the Ford Focus is just around the corner, bringing with it a new ST that will feature only the usual array of drive modes that are altered at the press of a button.
Rivals to the ST Edition? The Honda Civic Type R comes to mind, which has always felt that bit sharper and track-focussed than the normal ST.
The ST Edition is a good-looking car. The combination of the luminescent blue paint offset by the black roof, grille and door mirrors is reminiscent of the Ford Focus RS, may it rest in peace.
Inside, the driver and passenger are treated to part-leather Recaro sports seats and plenty of Ford Performance blue stitching found in places like the gear lever and steering wheel. To be honest it doesn’t feel any more special than the standard ST, and both the plastic switchgear and overall design are looking a bit long in the tooth, you can tell the Focus is ready for a refresh.
Speaking of long in the tooth, the Ford Focus’s infotainment system is conspicuously dated now. It’s still better than the absolute dog of a system found in the Civic Type R, but when held against other hot hatches like the Mercedes-AMG A 35 it’s slow and visually dull.
Being no different in dimensions to the standard ST the ST Edition is one of the more practical cars in the hot hatch pool. Legroom in the back is generous, as is shoulder room. It’s five-door only too, so getting in and out is a doddle for passengers. The 375-litre boot is a good size and shaped sensibly for easy loading and unloading, although the Civic Type R offers 420-litres.
As mentioned, the ST’s 2.3-litre turbocharged petrol engine has been untouched. Producing the same amount of power in the ST Edition, the 0-62mph is unchanged at 5.7 seconds and top speed of 155mph. Ford doesn’t offer an automatic gearbox for the ST Edition either, which would add weight to a car which is all about trimming the pounds. A six-speed manual does the job.
The big question is, is the ST Edition better to drive than the car it’s based upon? Well, yes it is. But the benchmark was already high, the ST is a great hot hatch to drive both on road and track, so rather than tear up the blueprint it’s just added an extra layer of sharpness.
Body control is excellent, and it’s matched by lightning quick and responsive steering. It’s a car that wants to be tilted into corners as hard as possible, the limited slip differential on the front wheels offering loads of grip. It's phenomenally fun to drive on an empty B-road.
The damping is where the main work has been done and it’s executed very nicely. The ST Edition doesn’t clatter and crash over potholes, which even cars like the Volkswagen Golf R have a tendency to do, but the ride is super-firm and responsive to changes in the road surface.
It can feel a little too firm at times, this isn’t a car that ever switches off, and that gets tiring. If you want an all-rounder hot hatch then this isn’t for you, we recommend looking at the standard ST or perhaps the Hyundai i30N.
But if you’re a committed track day goer you will get more out of the ST Edition than almost any other hot hatch for the £35,785 Ford is asking for it, which isn’t a huge leap over the standard car’s price tag.
The engine isn’t as fizzy as the high-revving Civic Type R’s, but with the Focus ST Edition it feels like the right owners would find it more rewarding than they would the Honda, if nothing else simply for the fact you can jack the car up and get your hands dirty.
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