2019 Ford Focus ST passenger ride verdict

We've been for a passenger ride around Ford's proving ground in the all-new Ford Focus ST. Could this be the hot hatch to beat?...

22 April 2019
2019 Ford Focus ST - side profile

The new Ford Focus ST isn't cheap compared with the Hyundai i30 N Performance and even less so the Renault Mégane RS, but it matches the former’s generous level of equipment. It also has the interior space to beat both and, more importantly for a hot hatch, the pace to at least match them, along with better ride comfort on tap than the consistently bumpier Mégane RS.

What we couldn’t gauge for certain from the passenger seat is how it handles in comparison to those key competitors. If we were to stake a pound or two on the outcome, though, it would be on the more aggressive Mégane RS proving quicker around a track, but the Focus ST should see off the challenge of the i30 N Performance around the majority of corners.

It’s unlikely, however, to depose the pricier (in top-spec GT trim) Honda Civic Type R as our champion in the hot hatch class. That job will be left up to the next Focus RS, if Ford decides to build one. Still, we'll have to wait until we drive the Focus ST before we can pass full judgement.

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2019 Ford Focus ST specification

Price £31,995 Engine 4 cyls2261cc, turbo, petrol Power 276bhp at 5500rpm Torque 310lb ft at 3000-4000rpm Gearbox 6-spd manual Top speed 155mph 0-62mph 5.7sec Fuel economy 35.8mpg (WLTP) CO2 179g/km (NEDC)

Cars the new Ford Focus ST has to beat

The new Focus ST is entering a crowded hot hatch market, so which models set the standard? Here we count down our current top 10 – and reveal the models that are best avoided.

10. Volkswagen Golf R

Used Volkswagen Golf R 2016-present

The potent Volkswagen Golf GTI features further up this list, but for a more hardcore experience it's worth considering the Golf R. It's even more potent than the GTI, with increased performance and four-wheel drive. In fact, it's tremendous fun to drive. It has 296bhp and a 0-62mph time of just 5.3sec. It's also reasonably practical to use every day, and its interior is top-notch.

Read our full Volkswagen Golf R review

9. Audi S3

Audi S3

Like the regular A3 family hatchback, the S3 is a premium car that oozes quality inside and out. There's a 306bhp petrol engine under the bonnet that makes it one of the quickest cars in this class. The S3 is not the most exciting hot hatch to drive, though, and its price can quickly rise if you start adding options, but it has one of the classiest interiors around.

Read our full Audi S3 review

8. Audi RS3

Audi RS3

Audi has been locked in a power battle with Mercedes-AMG in recent years, but this revised RS3, which borrows the 394bhp five-cylinder engine from the TT RS sports car, puts the hot hatch firmly in the top spot for outright acceleration. You’ll need a well-padded wallet to buy and own an RS3, though.

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