This car has been superseded by a newer model, click here to go to the latest Ford Focus ST (12-18) review.

Parkers overall rating: 4.5 out of 5 4.5

The Focus ST is powered by a 2.5-litre turbocharged engine that is also used in several Volvo models. It has five-cylinders (as oppose to most hot hatch engines which have four) and this accounts for the unusual and distinctive sounds it emits, especially under hard acceleration, while the twin exhausts that burble away only add to the feelgood factor.

It certainly has bags of character - plant your right foot and you're rewarded with long-legged performance and acceleration all the way up to maximum revs. There's no sudden shove - instead the power is delivered predictably making it an easy car to drive quickly but smoothly. 0-60mph comes up in 6.8 seconds - that's marginally slower than alternatives like the Honda Civic Type-R and SEAT Leon Cupra but quicker than the Volkswagen Golf GTi.

Plus the ST has more pulling power than so in-gear pace is superb.

The standard Focus is renowned for having excellent handling and good steering and the ST builds on this. It has the best steering feel of any hot hatch along with immense grip, excellent body control and great traction when accelerating out of corners. Consequently the Focus delivers a truly intoxicating experience but always feels nimble and secure, helped by lower and firmer suspension, bigger roll bars and extra stiffening.

However it's not a frantic or exhausting car to drive and refinement hasn't suffered despite the sporty set-up - there's a compliancy and comfort to the ride that few performance cars can match.