2018 Ford Focus 1.5 Ecoboost 182 ST-Line X review – price, specs and release date
Until the hot ST model arrives in 2019, this 180bhp petrol version is as spicy as the Ford Focus gets. We try it for the first time...
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“There’s now a real reason to buy a Ford Focus over any other car in the class: it’s simply delightful to drive.” That’s what we said when we first got behind the wheel of Ford’s new family hatchback in the summer.
You can read all about the whys and wherefores in our full 16-point review, but here we’re concentrating on how well the car gels with the most powerful engine it’s currently available with: a 180bhp 1.5-litre turbocharged petrol unit.
It’s the closest thing there is to a hot Focus until the Honda Civic Type R-rivalling ST model arrives next year. But is the engine a good fit for the Focus? And is it worth the extra over the cheaper petrols in the range?
2018 Ford Focus 1.5 Ecoboost 182 ST-Line X on the road
The 1.5-litre engine is actually very similar to the one under the bonnet of the latest Ford Fiesta ST, albeit with the wick turned down a couple of notches.
But don’t forget, the Focus is also a bigger, heavier car, so acceleration is brisk rather than anything that’ll widen your eyes. The 0-62mph sprint takes 8.3sec, or 8.4sec if you go for the optional automatic gearbox.
The 1.5-litre engine is certainly smooth, with very little vibration filtering through to you or your passengers. It’s also quiet and pulls strongly across a broad range of revs. Put your foot down at 1800rpm and you’ll experience a hearty surge of forward momentum that carries on building until the revs pass 6000rpm.
The only thing is, the cheaper 148bhp version of the same 1.5-litre petrol engine is just as smooth and hushed, and it doesn’t feel much less energetic in most situations.
Since the 180bhp engine is available only in ST-Line X trim, you get stiffer sports suspension as standard. This means you’re aware of every bump as is passes beneath the car – particularly around town. The fact that our test car was fitted with 17in alloy wheels (18s come as standard in the UK) should also serve as a note of caution if a supple ride is a high priority.
Mind you, the ride becomes much smoother on A-roads and motorways, where the suspension actually deals with longer-wave ripples really well. The stiffer set-up makes the Focus even more eager to respond to steering inputs, too; it darts into bends more keenly than a lot of proper hot hatches and makes the Skoda Octavia and Volkswagen Golf seem almost wallowy by comparison.
Nevertheless, we reckon the Focus’s slightly softer, regular suspension (fitted to Style, Zetec and Titanium trims) gives the car a broader range of talents. Bumps are smothered in a less aggressive manner around town, yet the Focus is still an utterly joyful thing to drive along a twisty road.
2018 Ford Focus 1.5 Ecoboost 182 ST-Line X interior
Head over to our 16-point review for a full rundown on the Focus’s driving position and infotainment system, as well as how easy it is to see out of and how well its interior quality compares with key rivals.
What’s specific to this engine, courtesy of its availability only in ST-Line X trim, is a flat-bottomed steering wheel, polished metal pedals and part-leather seats with lots of red stitching.
As well as all those styling trinkets, ST-Line X trim gets you an electric driver’s seat, privacy glass, front and rear parking sensors, a built-in sat-nav, heated front seats, power-folding door mirrors and climate control. That’s on top of everything you get on regular ST-Line trim.