Ford Focus ST: 252 horsepower for $24,495

Ford Focus ST sideFord’s compact Focus is good for one thing: variety. From the staid base sedan to the all-electric hatchback, there seems to be a Focus for everyone. Everyone, that is, except the performance enthusiast. The 2012 Focus debuted with a brace of green powertrains, but nothing that could be described as “sporty.” That will change soon, because Ford is rolling out another Focus: the ST.

Ford announced this sporty Focus last year, and is just about ready to start selling it. It’s no secret that the ST will be powered by an EcoBoost four-cylinder engine, with turbocharging and direct injection to get as much power from those two liters as possible. Now we know exactly how much power that will be. The ST will produce 252 horsepower and 270 pound-feet of torque.

That power will be sent to the front wheels through a six-speed manual transmission. Since this is supposed to be a performance car, there is no automatic transmission option. The ST will only be available as a five-door hatchback, which is fine because the hatch is much better looking than the sedan. Buyers can choose from one of six exterior colors: Tuxedo Black, Oxford White, Race Red, Performance Blue, Ingot Silver and, for an extra $495, Tangerine Scream Orange.

Other performance upgrades include bigger wheels and tires. In addition, the ST gets a body kit with a blacked-out grille to give it a sportier look than lesser Focuses. The interior also gets some upgrades, including a leather-wrapped steering wheel, aluminum pedals, and Ford’s SYNC connectivity system as standard (the latter will not help you drive faster). All of that can be had for $24,495, plus a $750 destination charge.

There are also two options packages. ST2 adds adds a Sony audio system, eight-inch touchscreen, dual-zone automatic climate control, satellite/HD radio, and upgraded seats for $2,385. For $4,435, ST3 adds LED running and cornering lights, interior ambient lighting, heated mirrors, a navigation system, rear armrest, and front overhead console to the ST2 package. With both packages, a fully-optioned Focus ST could cost almost $30,000.

Will it be worth it? The ST’s biggest rival will probably be the Volkswagen GTI. Both cars are front-drive “hot hatchbacks” based on regular compacts. The GTI brandishes 200 hp and 207 lb-ft. It starts at $23,995, but prices can quickly climb with options; a three-door GTI with navigation costs $27,845. On paper, the GTI has a slight advantage in price, while the ST has a major advantage in power. Of course, the real deciding factor will be how well each car drives.

When Ford introduced the original performance Focus, the SVT, in 2002, it was a hit. Having a sporty model at the top of the range reflecting well on everything else; it’s what marketers call the “halo effect.” The other Focuses (Focii?) are good cars, but they don’t stir emotions the way pure speed does. Hopefully, the ST will make the Ford’s Focus lineup complete.

Product Review

The Nissan Rogue is smart, handsome, and practical. What’s not to love?

Year after year, Nissan’s Rogue compact crossover is a consistent best-seller, outpacing Honda’s CR-V, and even Toyota’s mighty RAV4. We looked for the reasons why people love the 2019 Nissan Rogue, and found them.

Can electric cars be S3XY? Tesla says yes with the new Model Y crossover

Tesla introduced a crossover named Model Y at its design studio in Los Angeles. It's a more spacious alternative to the Model 3 it shares 75 percent of its parts with, and is a smaller sibling to the Model X.

The 2020 Ford Explorer fights flat tires with self-sealing tech from Michelin

The 2020 Ford Explorer will be the first SUV equipped with Michelin Selfseal tires, which Ford and Michelin claim can seal 90 percent of tread puncture up to a quarter of an inch in diameter.
Product Review

Toyota’s 2019 RAV4 is smarter, while remaining as value-packed as ever

The 2019 RAV4 shows that Toyota is serious about moving its leading compact crossover upscale to near-premium status, and making it more capable as an off-highway vehicle. But will it lose the RAV4’s historic affordability in the process?

Karma Automotive continues clawing back from the brink with three new cars

Karma Automotive will bring three new cars to the 2019 Shanghai Auto Show, including a long overdue redesigned version of its Revero plug-in hybrid and an all-electric concept car.

Nuro’s awesome robot delivery pods are tootling into Texas

Robo-delivery startup Nuro is taking its cool-looking autonomous delivery pods to Texas. The pods will deliver Kroger groceries to customers' doors in Houston following a successful pilot program in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Automakers are spending billions on self-driving technology people are afraid of

Automakers are spending billions of dollars on developing the technology that will power self-driving cars, but research shows consumers have no interest in giving up control. Will they ever recoup their investment?

Sibling rivalry: The Tesla Model Y takes on the Tesla Model 3

Tesla expanded its lineup with a fourth car named Model Y. It's an electric crossover positioned as a more spacious alternative to the Model 3. The two cars share about 75 percent of their components, but they're aimed at different buyers.

Adventurous and electric, Porsche’s second station wagon will arrive in 2020

The Mission E Cross Turismo concept Porsche unveiled during the 2018 Geneva Auto Show will morph into a production model tentatively named Taycan Cross Turismo. This 600-horsepower electric station wagon will arrive in showrooms by 2021.

Mustang-like and electrified. What did Ford just show a preview of?

Ford posted an enigmatic picture of a blue Mustang emblem on a black background right as Tesla prepared to introduce the Model Y. Is the Blue Oval teasing a hybrid Mustang, or is it previewing a Mustang-inspired, battery-powered crossover?

Amazon and Kia team up to simplify EV home-charging station installs

Kia Motors announced a new program with Amazon for electric vehicles. Customers planning to purchase a new Kia EV or PHEV can check out recommended Level 2 240-volt home charging stations and arrange installation in their homes.

Unrestrained by heritage, Polestar sets its sights on becoming a digital brand

With no heritage to worry about, Polestar is free to move full-speed ahead towards its goal of becoming a digital brand. All of the company's upcoming models will be electric, and they will inaugurate an Android-powered infotainment system.

Audi’s traffic light information system shows the challenges facing V2X tech

Audi’s traffic light information system is among the first commercial applications of potentially game-changing V2X tech. So how does it work in the real world? We spent a few days getting stuck at red lights to find out.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Write music with your voice, make homemade cheese

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!