September 26, 2022

Quick Fords don’t come any extra fabulous, enjoyable and frugal than the Ford Focus ST Mk3 – the best-value all-rounder within the Blue Oval world, providing improbable dealing with, immense practicality and tuneability to rival an RS.

Characteristic from Quick Ford journal. Phrases: Dan Williamson. Images: Quick Ford archives.

Why you need a Ford Focus ST Mk3

ST250s are amazingly good all-rounders, as succesful on monitor as they’re blasting down B-roads, cruising motorways or popping to the retailers. There’s even an property ST obtainable.

Tuning a Ford Focus ST Mk3 turns it from household wagon into RS-chasing scorching hatch, with even a primary Stage 1 remap making for enormous grins.

Second-hand costs are beginning to degree out, so there are some actual discount STs on the used market – even previously-modified machines.

Why you don’t need a Ford Focus ST Mk3

Tiresome feedback will at all times come from individuals moaning it’s not a three-door and that they like the ST225’s burbling five-cylinder soundtrack. Ignore them: the ST250 is a greater automobile in each different respect.

Say it quietly, however there’s a purpose for the EcoBoom nickname… Nonetheless, a cast rebuild at the very least means you’ll be able to add extra enhance.

Thieves are ultra-keen on the ST250 for joyrides, ram-raids and financial institution jobs. You’ll have to spend money on safety to maintain your ST protected.

Ford Focus ST Mk3 historical past

  • February 2011 – Focus Mk3 launched, primarily based on current floorpan however with all-new five-door hatchback and property bodywork, huge vary of engines and trim ranges, albeit no sporting mannequin to exchange Mk2 ST and RS.
  • September 2011 – Focus ST Mk3 unveiled, primarily based on five-door hatchback/property however with 2.0-litre EcoBoost engine (250PS, thus ST250 nickname), six-speed handbook gearbox, lowered and uprated suspension, large brakes, 18in alloy wheels, full bodykit and centre-exit exhaust.
  • 1 June 2012 – Focus ST turns into obtainable in UK. Trim ranges are ST-1 (with monotone Recaro seats), ST-2 (colour-coordinated Recaro seats) or ST-3 (black leather-based Recaro seats). Round 40 different markets quickly comply with – together with the USA – making the ST250 the primary actually worldwide quick Ford.
  • Summer time 2014 – Focus ST manufacturing (pre-facelift) ends.
  • 29 October 2014 – Facelifted Focus ST 12-model hatchback/property vary launched in ST-1, ST-2 or ST-3 trim with alternative of 250PS petrol or 180PS diesel powerplants. Revised styling consists of new headlamps and rectangular fog lamps. Cabin has redesigned dashboard format and centre console. Mechanical upgrades embody revised entrance springs, uprated dampers, stiffer suspension bushes, and recalibrated electrically-assisted steering. Choices now embody split-five-spoke 19in alloy wheels and 335mm entrance brakes.
  • February 2017 – Focus ST-1 discontinued. ST-2 and ST-3 proceed with satellite tv for pc navigation now included as commonplace.
  • June 2018 – Ford Focus Mk3 ST discontinued. Changed by Mk4.

Ford Focus ST Mk3 key factors

  • General situation – Keep away from any ST that appears uncared for: Mk3 Focus cabins cowl many miles with out displaying put on, so tatty trim suggests an abused instance. Likewise, lack of servicing factors to a driver who’s skimped on prices.
  • Identification – Crashed, stolen and cloned ST250s are frequent. Equally, most have been purchased on finance. Don’t spend your cash with out investing in a complete historical past test.
  • Physique – Search for rusty rear wheelarches, lacquer peeling off plastics, flickering headlamps, poor panel gaps and dodgy paintwork. Flapping door seals are free with each buy.
  • Engine – Smoking and misfiring can level to piston ring land failure, an impending rebuild and empty checking account. Plumes of steam counsel a cracked cylinder head and equally catastrophic outcomes in your bank card.
  • Suspension – Even a mega-mileage Ford Focus ST Mk3 ought to deal with beautifully, however worn bushes take the sting off dealing with. Watch out for PAS issues, which imply a brand new steering rack is required, together with large payments.

Ford Focus ST Mk3 interior

What to look out for when shopping for a Ford Focus ST Mk3


Focus ST250s are a favorite of light-fingered toerags – particularly ST-3s with keyless entry. Hundreds have been nicked, and many are operating round on faux IDs and cloned plates. Lots have been repaired after being accident-damaged, and lots of are topic to excellent finance – so paying the vendor doesn’t purchase possession of the automobile. It’s completely important to spend money on a good historical past test with assure (and never only a low-cost telephone app) earlier than handing over any money.

Evaluate the VIN quantity with the V5 logbook and digits printed on the automobile: discover the VIN on a sticker on the backside of the motive force’s-side B-pillar and on a tag on the left-hand-side of the dashboard (seen by means of the windscreen from outdoors).

Make sure the automobile you’re shopping for tallies with the spec. For instance, all facelift ST-3s got here with xenon headlamps, cruise management and rear parking sensors, however the leather-based Recaros are sometimes swapped into lesser fashions. In the meantime, the Model Pack included rear privateness glass and pink brake callipers – though, to confuse issues, privateness glass was a stand-alone possibility, and the pink callipers had been fitted to facelift ST-3s.

See also  R56 Mini Buyer’s Guide & Most Common Problems To Look Out For

Watch out for low-cost vehicles, particularly in ST-1 spec, which had been usually utilized by police forces (typically in property kind) and have significantly much less worth as a consequence of having led very arduous lives.

Ford Focus ST Mk3 engine

Engine & Transmission

EcoBoom? Probably not. Though the Ford Focus ST Mk3 and its turbocharged 2.0-litre can go bang, it doesn’t are inclined to occur to straightforward engines. Gary at Collins Efficiency has seen issues solely on vehicles mapped by different (much less reliable) tuners. Certainly, Collins has a buyer with 170,000 miles on an untouched ST backside finish.

The protected restrict earlier than cast internals is simply over 300bhp, though some see 315bhp with no fault. Knackered pistons are frequent on commonplace engines which have been mapped badly and/or operating an excessive amount of enhance/ignition advance, which causes ring land failure. Signs embody misfiring (particularly at start-up), smoke from the exhaust (getting worse in extreme circumstances), lack of energy, and operating on three cylinders; any of the 4 pistons might have failed, and can exhibit a studying of roughly half the opposite three on a compression test.

Heavy knocking noises at start-up are one other signal of piston issues, however don’t fear a few mild tapping at idle, which is typical of the inventory gas injection system.

ST boards will inform you unhealthy driving and LSPI (low-speed pre-ignition) are responsible. However, though it’s unwise to place undue load on the engine in excessive gear/low revs, Collins has by no means seen any points on an unmodified ST250. It’s additionally price allowing for the ST’s 2.0-litre EcoBoost is a greater cylinder block than the Focus RS’s 2.3, and is usually used for big-power builds.

Cast pistons and rods are the perfect resolution, being cheaper than commonplace Ford elements, replaceable with the engine in situ, and obtainable with decrease compression ratio than the common 10.0:1 if you happen to plan on becoming an enormous turbo. Keep in mind that might be detrimental to the ST250’s driveability, which needs to be responsive from 2000rpm.

Watch out for smoke from the exhaust. Other than blown pistons, blue smoke suggests turbo put on – usually at excessive revs, particularly on hard-worked automobile, or at idle if the automobile has a de-cat pipe; oil blows previous the turbo seals as a result of primary breather system, however uprated breathers can be found.

White smoke might be extra worrying. If it appears like head gasket failure – steam billowing out of the again – it’s most likely coolant coming from a crack in a water jacket within the cylinder head, and straight by means of the turbo. It’s an inner fracture across the exhaust-to-turbo port, so it will possibly’t be repaired. A brand new head is greater than £2000, so the cheaper resolution is to supply a great second-hand head.

Collins sees numerous pre-facelift ST250s for repairs to the factory-fitted splicing within the underbonnet wiring loom on the throttle physique. American STs had been recalled for a repair, however British vehicles had been typically ignored, though some had your complete loom changed below guarantee, others had been repaired in situ, and the remainder had been left for future patrons to repair. The same old signs are poor idling, with revs fluctuating and the engine stalling, typically accompanied by a glowing administration mild.

Regardless of the prolonged guidelines, the two.0-litre EcoBoost is definitely very dependable and low-cost to personal. It runs on a timing chain (as a substitute of a belt), so common replacements aren’t required, and servicing is like all common Ford, due each 12,500 miles.

Not like the oil-burning diesel Focus ST, the petrol-powered ST250 was obtainable solely with a handbook gearbox – the robust Getrag MMT6, as beforehand present in six-speed Ford Mondeo ST220s and turbocharged Noble sports activities vehicles. It’s extremely unlikely to trigger any hassle.

The identical can’t be stated for the clutch, although. It’s restricted to round 300bhp however ought to handle lots extra if you happen to’re not launching it from each set of lights.

You’ll have to test for clutch slip on a check drive: cruise in third or fourth gear and speed up arduous from round 2000rpm; if the street velocity doesn’t improve because the engine revs rise, the clutch is knackered.

Watch out for faults with the twin mass flywheel (DMF), which shall be costly to exchange. Pay attention for vibrations by means of the clutch pedal and really feel for baulking when altering gear. The MMT6 has a constructive and exact mechanical really feel, so watch out for any gear-selection difficulties, notably on first or reverse.

A great deal of Focus ST250s have been fitted with aftermarket quick-shifters, which shorten (and enhance) the throw of the gearstick. Simply keep in mind that many modified machines have been pushed arduous, so that you’ll must be particularly cautious of clutch slip and piston issues.

See also  Honda Civic Type R FK8 Buyer’s Guide

Ford Focus ST Mk3 - wheels

Suspension & Brakes

The Ford Focus ST Mk3 handles like each scorching hatch ought to – with fast responses, a great deal of laughs and a bit of an excessive amount of torque-steer. Pre-facelift vehicles are particularly susceptible (Ford revised the suspension and recalibrated the steering for the 2015 mannequin yr), however all will profit from polyurethane rear bushes within the entrance wishbones, which substitute the unique oil-filled elements. We just like the Powerflex Dealing with Pack, which incorporates all 4 wishbone bushes plus engine mount void bush. A wide range of engine mounts can be found, however many are thought-about too harsh for a road-going ST250, so select rigorously.

Any second-hand ST250 ought to deal with sharply, even after numerous miles. Drained commonplace bushes will most likely be responsible if it’s sloppy (test the rear trailing arm bushes, that are difficult to exchange), though coil springs have been identified to snap. Watch out for inaccurate dealing with, which might level to poor alignment (ST250s are delicate to wheel geometry, however keep in mind hundreds have been crashed) or an issue with the steering.

Some early ST250s had points with the variable electrical help (cured by a software program improve), whereas facelifted variations had been recalibrated for improved really feel. Collins has seen a number of STs with defective steering racks, the place they abruptly lose energy help whereas driving – the ST has a really fast rack, so the steering turns into extremely heavy; a dashboard warning mild will flash up too.

Rack substitute is costly (round £800 for a reconditioned unit) and never simple: there are totally different variations relying on the mannequin yr, with different digital management modules, that are integral to the rack.

Inventory ST250 stoppers are succesful sufficient for a street automobile – particularly with fast-road pads – though over-enthusiastic use ends in juddering as a consequence of warped/contaminated discs/pads. If you happen to really feel it on the check drive, assume the automobile’s been pushed arduous. Many homeowners have upgraded to Focus RS Mk3 Brembo entrance callipers, 350mm discs and braided hoses, which work brilliantly.

Examine the remainder of the braking system for corrosion, particularly the brake strains, connectors and rear callipers; the retaining springs rust into the callipers, and the handbrake mechanism can grow to be sticky.

Normal ST250 wheels had been 8x18in in silver, or Rado Gray as a part of the Model Pack (later ST-3s swapped for Rock Metallic). Rado Gray rims are liable to flaking lacquer. Many facelift STs had been had non-compulsory 19in rims (silver with Model Pack, or black with Black Model Pack), which scale back journey consolation however look hundreds higher. Inventory tyres had been Goodyears, however any high quality model will do the job.


Cabin sturdiness is great, though abused and uncared for vehicles rattle from bits of unfastened plastic trim – particularly in the event that they’ve been eliminated a few times. Keep away from any scuffed-looking automobile, as a result of higher examples are on the market. Creaking might be coming from the windscreen, particularly below arduous cornering; if the display has been changed, test the carpets for dampness.

Most patrons desire the facelifted Ford Focus ST Mk3 as a consequence of a cleaner dashboard format and flat-bottomed steering wheel. Extra importantly, make sure you’re shopping for the spec you want.

The ST-1 is price least, carrying plain Recaro seats and primary air-con. The ST-2 is in style, that includes colored panels on fabric seats, local weather management, auto-dimming rear-view mirror, Sony DAB stereo, rain-sensitive wipers, automated headlights and heated windscreen. The ST-3 added black leather-based seats, Recaro rear bench, keyless automobile entry and rear parking sensors.

The ST-3 and Model Pack additionally gained illuminated pink scuff plates on the internal sills, that are extraordinarily liable to failure and horrendously overpriced to exchange. Sought-after non-compulsory extras embody heated steering wheel, cruise management (extra-cost on all however the facelift ST-3), sat nav (commonplace on late-model ST-2s and ST-3s), premium sound system and reversing digicam.

The Driver Help Pack (with Energetic Metropolis Cease, Lane Departure Warning, Auto Excessive Beam and so forth) and BLIS (Blind Spot Data System, which incorporates Cross Site visitors Alert) don’t notably demand a premium on the used market. Likewise, the ST-2’s Metropolis Pack of Powerfold door mirrors and rear parking sensors.

Examine all of the devices work. Auxiliary gauges typically fluctuate, the dual-zone local weather management may be temperamental, and SYNC points are frequent (though usually cured by software program updates). If the power-start button is taking part in up, it might accompany different dashboard warning lamps, and even parasitic battery drains. Watch out for service lamps and dashboard shows, which may be expensive to diagnose. Study the service historical past to make sure the September 2017 recall has been carried out for ineffective side- and knee-airbags.

If you happen to’re shopping for an ST-3, take note of the motive force’s seat bolsters, which is able to look tatty after some time, particularly if the earlier proprietor is chunky. The seat may additionally be squeaking.

Keep in mind to look contained in the boot. Water leaks are nearly factory-fitted – often on hatchbacks however some estates too; really feel for dampness, as a consequence of water ingress by means of the tailgate seals, lamp clusters or air vents behind the again bumper. The treatment is elimination of the lights and bumper, then sealing the offender with silicone.

See also  Modified Ford Focus ST Mk3 | Unfinished Business


Hatchback or property? Tuners select the lighter hatch, however the wagon is far more sensible, and dealing with is sort of indistinguishable between the 2. Estates are comparatively scarce, so count on to pay a £1000-to-£2000 premium. And if you would like a sunroof, you’re restricted to the hatch – albeit as a uncommon non-compulsory further.

Door edge protectors are price looking for as a result of they’re costly to retrofit. Watch out for them falling off or getting caught, which may injury paintwork. Common lubrication is the reply. Door seals across the bottoms are extraordinarily liable to peeling off, however merely must be reattached with contact adhesive.

Corrosion isn’t an enormous grievance with the Ford Focus ST Mk3, but it surely’s quite common for the underside to look scabby and – most notably – the rear wheelarches effervescent up the place the again bumper rubs towards the metallic of the arches and paint flakes off. Some hatchbacks additionally exhibit paint carrying skinny across the again lights, and Ford received’t honour the anti-perforation guarantee.

A great deal of ST250s have been crashed, so be particularly vigilant about indicators of accident injury, resembling overspray, mismatched colors, creases within the engine bay or boot, or dodgy-looking panel gaps. However keep in mind the pre-facelift has a big opening between its bonnet and entrance bumper, which appears just like the bonnet’s not shut. It may be adjusted on the rubber stoppers or bonnet latch mountings.

Don’t fear if the bumpers or skirts look off-shade as a result of they’re all like that. Lacquer peel can also be frequent on bumpers.

It’s regular to see condensation within the headlamps, however watch out for flickering DRLs (daytime operating lights), which want a software program reset. ST-3s had been fitted with xenon headlamps, that are fascinating however expensive to restore. Search for a ‘headlamp service’ warning on the sprint, and ensure they level in a straight line until cornering; test the vendor hasn’t set the lamps to handbook to cover a fault. Examine below the offside entrance wheelarch, the place the headlamp levelling sensor’s plastic arm is liable to snapping; the entire motor must be changed, costing round £300, though a DIY restore is possible.

Tech Spec: Ford Focus ST Mk3


1999cc turbocharged four-cylinder 16-valve DOHC EcoBoost with alloy block and head, 10.0:1 compression ratio, forged iron crankshaft, forged iron pistons, cast connecting rods, twin-independent variable cam timing (Ti-VCT), timing chain drive, BorgWarner K03 low-inertia turbocharger, high-pressure direct gas injection, redesigned consumption, Bosch MED17 engine administration, redesigned exhaust system with twin hexagonal centre-exit tailpipes


Entrance-wheel drive with Getrag Ford Durashift MMT6 six-speed handbook gearbox


Entrance: MacPherson struts, gas-filled dampers, 10mm lowered coil springs, anti-roll bar, revised steering knuckles, uprated bushes; rear: impartial management blade multi-link system, revised suspension knuckles, gas-filled dampers, 10mm lowered coil springs, revised 22mm anti-roll bar; digital stability programme (ESP), torque vectoring management (TVC), recalibrated variable-ratio digital power-assisted steering with fast rack


Entrance: 320mm ventilated discs; rear: 271mm discs; ABS with digital brake drive distribution; non-compulsory 335mm entrance discs

Wheels & Tyres:

8x18in alloys and 235/40×18 Goodyear Eagle F1 tyres; 8x19in alloy wheels with 235/35×19 tyres on facelift Model Pack/Black Model Pack


Focus five-door hatchback or five-door property with ST bodykit together with entrance bumper with fog lights, gloss-black grille, facet skirts, rear bumper and rear spoiler, plus black headlight surrounds, black roof rails (property), auto headlights (ST-2 and ST-3), rain-sensitive windscreen wipers (ST-2 and ST-3), heated windscreen (ST-2 and ST-3),(ST-3), xenon headlamps (commonplace on ST-3 or non-compulsory on ST-2 Metropolis Pack), rear parking sensors (facelift ST-3). Elective rear privateness glass (ST-2 and ST-3), non-compulsory glass electrical sunroof (ST-2 and ST-3 hatch), non-compulsory Efficiency Pack/ST Model Pack provides Rado Gray wheels, pink brake callipers and illuminated scuff plates (pre-facelift ST-2 and ST-3); facelift ST-3 has illuminated scuff plates, pink brake callipers and Rock Metallic wheels as commonplace. Accessible in Frozen White, Race Pink, Stealth, Spirit Blue, Deep Impression Blue, Tangerine Scream, Panther Black, Shadow Black or Moondust Silver


Recaro entrance seats in Lux in Charcoal Black fabric (ST-1), Safety in Lux in Smoke Storm/Tangerine Scream/Spirit Blue/Race Pink (ST-2) or Windsor leather-based in Charcoal Black (ST-3), heated and power-adjustable entrance seats (ST-3), sculpted Recaro rear bench seat (ST-3), ST leather-trimmed steering wheel, ST gearknob, ST pedals, Ford Energy Begin button, air-con (ST-1), local weather management (ST-2 and ST-3), keyless entry (ST-3), auto-dimming rear-view mirror (ST-2 and ST-3), Ford DAB audio (ST-1), Sony DAB audio with 4.2in show (pre-facelift ST-2 and ST-3), SYNC3 with 8in touchscreen sat nav (facelift), non-compulsory premium sound system, reversing digicam, satellite tv for pc navigation (pre-facelift), cruise management (commonplace on facelift ST-3), heated steering wheel, blind spot data system (BLIS), Energetic Metropolis Cease and Driver Help Pack (ST-2 and ST-3)