Ford’s family hatch borrows the hot ST’s looks and badge to broaden its appeal
This sporty-looking version of Ford’s Focus family hatch is designed to rival the likes of Renault’s new Megane GT-Line and the Vauxhall Astra Tech Line.
It has much of the visual swagger of its hotter full-house ST sibling but nothing like the same amount of power under the bonnet.
On the outside there’s a full bodykit, including a large rear spoiler and side skirts, plus a gloss black honeycomb-style grille and dark surrounds for the foglights. Sports suspension and 17in alloy wheels painted in Rock Metallic grey complete the exterior alterations.
On the inside there’s a black headlining, sports seats with red stitching and a perforated leather steering wheel. You step in over an ST-Line kick plate and change gear with an ST-style gearknob.
At launch, the Focus ST-Line is offered with a choice of either a 1.0-litre three-cylinder Ecoboost petrol engine in 124bhp or 148bhp form, or the ll8bhp 1.5-litre diesel that we’re testing here.
There’s no denying that the Focus ST-Line does a good job of mimicking the styling of the raunchy ST. Squatting 10mm closer to the road than a regular Focus and decked out in its full bodykit, it has a strong enough presence to tempt some drivers into racing it from the lights.
Unfortunately, fitted with the 1.5 TDCi engine, this ST-Line has that the ST-Line’s ride is gentler than that of the full-blown ST over pockmarked UK roads.
The paybacks for the meagre performance are an impressive combined economy figure of 65.7mpg and CO2 emissions of 99g/km. Both make the car appealing to company drivers or those on a tight budget.
While the interior doesn’t quite manage to pull off a truly upmarket air, the red-stitched fabric sports seats hug you nicely and the driving position is pretty good.
The ST-Line is kitted out with Ford’s Sync2 8.0in touchscreen infotainment system, which isn’t the last word in in-car tech but at least has large, clear icons and intuitive menus. Standard kit also includes DAB radio and air-con but not sat-nav, parking sensors or automatic emergency braking.
The Focus 1.5 TDCi ST-Line feels like too much of a mixed-up model to recommend to an enthusiastic driver. It looks the part, but it’s a car that’s all mouth and no trousers, because it simply doesn’t have the pace or character to pull off the ST moniker.
With prices starting above £20,000, and this five-door version pitching in at more than £21,000, the ST-Line is too expensive for an eco-friendly Focus. In fact, the total cost of our test car was less than £1500 shy of the cost of a real-deal ST-1 – and there’s no question which one you’d rather be driving.
The only reason to consider it is if you’re a company car driver, restricted to a model with low emissions and high economy. In that case, at least it’ll give you the chance to look the part as you cruise around – slowly – during the working day.
Ford Focus 1.5 TDCi ST-Line
Looks good and handles well, but doesn’t have the pulling power to justify the ‘ST’ part of its name
Engine: 4cyls, 1499cc, diesel
Power: 118bhp at 3600rpm
Torque: 199lb ft at 1750rpm
Gearbox: 6-speed manual
Kerb weight: 1343kg
Top speed: 120mph
Economy: 65.7mpg (combined)
CO2/tax band: 99g/km, 19%
Rivals: Vauxhall Astra Tech Line, Renault Megane GT-Line