2012 Ford Focus ST: Up Close

Ford’s daddy of all Focuses — the 247-horsepower Focus ST hatchback — hits dealerships in 2012, long after milder and more mpg-focused variants of the redesigned car have made their entrance. Imbued with a twin turbo 2.0-liter four-cylinder, a reworked suspension and a trapezoidal grille so massive it could swallow entire swarms of insects, the ST tops off a Focus lineup that includes a hatchback and a sedan. 

More L.A. Auto Show Coverage

At the 2010 Los Angeles Auto Show, we checked it out. This is one mean-looking Focus, and it has its work cut out. From relatively refined to downright raucous, there’s a slew of hot hatches on the market.

With blacked-out cross-members and a piano-black honeycomb insert, the grille’s larger size functions to get more air to the engine’s intercoolers, said chief engineer Jim Hughes. It looks a lot like the Hyundai Sonata Hybrid’s grille, which is also larger for cooling purposes. Alas, a lot of states require front license plates, and there’s simply no good place to throw one here. The car on the show floor was European-spec; Hughes said the U.S. version will add a license plate bracket somewhere in the grille, though he admitted there’s no ideal location for it.

Smoked black taillights sit below a sizable roof spoiler. I like ‘em. They’re far better than the frosted-white alternative, which are overused these days.

Don’t let the spindly looking six-speed manual shifter fool you: It has short, precise throws. The show car’s interior featured a mix of lacquered black and carbon fiber patterns. Oil pressure, turbo boost and engine temp sit atop the dash, more or less in your line of sight. There’s a lot going on, and the whole of it could be too much for some.

The Recaro racing seats have plenty of lateral support, but the aggressive thigh bolsters could start to wear after a few hours behind the wheel. The high seatbacks virtually eliminate any forward visibility from the backseat, and the thick seats trim backseat legroom a few inches versus the standard Focus’ seats, which have large knee cutouts in back. Be ready to field complaints from the peanut gallery: The massive bolsters are also found in the rear seats, where they’re likely to be less appreciated.

The Recaros will be optional. What won’t be optional are the ST’s performance enhancements. A retooled suspension employs new stabilizer bars and more. It’s “much more than just different spring rates,” Hughes said. Ford’s RevoKnuckle suspension technology — integrated into the strut front suspension — allegedly mitigates torque steer, which threatens powerful front-drivers like the Focus ST. We’ve heard a dozen times of some magic bullet for torque steer, so we’ll have to drive one to believe it.

Ford will offer three different equipment packages on the ST, Hughes said, but there’s no word on pricing. We imagine the car will start considerably north of hatchback’s $22,765 Titanium edition, which tops things off currently.



Wow, a car with an attractive rear end! Ford, you may have finally done it!


Did you say twin turbo? Did you mean twin-scroll turbo?

Troy S.

Ford's version of a Fast and Furious vehicle with design cues that were popular 10 years ago. What's wrong Ford? Are you running out of vehicle models to import from Europe?


Yeah, what's up with the "twin turbo 2.0-liter four-cylinder" comment?


I think this color is hideous though


BRAVO Ford, what took you so long to bring this to the US? For the last 15 years all us car guys would sit around and say "Well ford does make good cars, they just don't sell them in the US" referring to the turbo focus.

Nicely done, a car we can appreciate, with good engineering and not made with solid rear axels or pushrods.

If Ford would have done this 15 year earlier they could have been part of the exploding sport compact scene which has already peaked.

walter davenport

the 2012 focus is agreat looking but i will not be buying one. the new focus has 1 inch less headroom than the 2010 model. I am 6feet 3 and need 39 inches headroom so I wont need to bother going to the showroom. By the way americans are getting taller not shorter.

walter davenport

The 2012 focus has 38.3 inches of front headroom. The 2011 has 39.2. At 6feet 3 inches I cannot fit in your new focus. It looks great but I will not need to look at it closer as I need 39 inches of headroom. People arte getting taller not shorter. DUH!


If I am comfortable in the car I will buy it. Period. And it's ridiculous to pick on the Mustang for a solid rear axle given the fact that an IRS will just increase cost, and it already outperforms many cars costing way more. Lastly, Ford has been using overhead cam multivalve engines in the Mustang since 1996. I can't remember when they last made a pushrod motor. You must be thinking of GM or Chrysler.


The ecoboost V6 has TWIN TURBO'S but I'm not sure about the 4 cyl. I think I remember reading somewhere that all ecoboost are twin turbo.


Most people who drive do not have the skill to push a properly setup solid rear axle car to it's limit. Independent rear suspension is something to talk about over a beer unless you are roadracing the car in competition. Even then a solid axle cars have beaten many independant rear cars.
Look at the Continental tire series for proof.

Lois White

Is this version of Focus going to be offered as a three door?


Screw this ST we want the RS!!!!! This is nothing like the RS! were getting screwed again!


a 3 door version would be tremendous as well. we're not all soccer moms...


LOVE the front and rear-end design of this model, but why not offer such a sporty look in a more fuel efficient version as well? Or least offer a manual tran in the Titanium? Should not have to sacrifice luxury, technology, and eye appeal for the preference of driving manual.


i hope you guys give it also healical posi traction actually it should have it no matter what 250 horses is alot for a front wheel drive.


and will there be stages like other turbo cars?



Please release the Focus ST sooner than next year!! I know that I would buy one!!


its a shame the interior looks like a Star Wars fighter.

mick farley

You are all missing the point we are still getting screwed The New Golf R & The ST focus are NOT Being offered with the DSG twin clutch Transmissions in the USA NOW THAT IS BEING SCREWED BIG TIME Iam a Brit who drove the RS & the Golf R two weeks ago with the DSG Wow is all I can say


This is a strange looking car. They should have done straighter and cleaner lines like the Seat Ibiza. I like the new ST but it could have been better.


america has been getting the short end of the stick for the last 2 generations of the RS.. the st is as close to the RS as we will probably ever get.. bummer.. the ST looks promising, i would buy it in a heart beat! i hope they follow up with an AWD package like they have been saying for the last 6 years

S.J. Wilson III

Ford, you are leading the way with hi technologies that are being used in today's new vehicles and I say "Keep it up!" You are on track and I really like the new 2012 Focus ST. I plan on getting one as soon as they hit the dealerships!! Sure come out with a three door version for those guys embarrassed to drive five door hatchbacks. Thanks!!


hi ford
im a owner of the f/l st, but one thing i do not like in south africa we alway's have to wait at least 2 years after launch to get it cant you guy's make a plane as i plane to keep my st and to buy myself the new one. thanks


@walter davenport, i'm so dissapointed to hear that about the new focus and its headroom, i have a 2011 focus ST which i just barely fit into being 6foot8 and was dying to get my hands on the 2012 model but am more dissapointed than ever due to the lack of headroom!
long face :-( from a long man


You tall dudes ought to sit in the car before you rule it out. The seat height is adjustable.


We went last night to check it out, not the St of course. My husband is 6'5" and he fit fine. I think he's pretty leggy though. He complains about not fitting in cars all the time, and he said it was fine.


Twin SMALL turbos spool up faster than one larger one reducing lag. A twin turbo 4 with small turbos is actually a brilliant idea.

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