2021 Ford Focus ST-Line (car review)

SPORTS Tuned is what the ST stands for in the 2021 Ford Focus ST-Line, but we prefer Simply Tasty. Being blunt, it’s a prick tease. It will have you acting like a young Kirsten Dunst in 1994’s Interview with the Vampire and wanting some more.

It’s no ST-1, nor is it the upcoming ST-3, but the Focus ST-Line is like a gateway drug into the hot hatch market. Sporty aero, an aggressive front and a curvaceous body, this Focus would look at home on a racetrack or your driveway.

Riding on 215/50 ContiSport Contacts wrapped 17-inch Rock Metallic light alloys, and hinting that it’s ready to play, the ST-Line features sports suspension, chrome twin tail pipes, privacy glass and unique badging.

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LED reflector headlamps, DRLs and adaptive cornering fog lamps make sure you’re never left in the dark. LED taillights and a halogen rear fog lamp are provided for those unfortunates who end up in your rear-view mirror.

The Focus’ interior continues the theme. Firm, yet sporty cloth with red stitching seats, ST-Line flat bottomed steering wheel, carbon look dash inserts and metallic foot pedals. We’re well on our way to a role in the next Fast & Furious movie.

Stepping away from the tuner talk, the Focus ST-Line is quite roomy for its size. Front row seating is complemented by illuminated cup holders, dual zone climate control, centre console storage and additional space in the doors.

Backrowers receive a 12-volt outlet for all their charging needs as well as refreshment storage in the door cards. Even if you have dual child seats, life’s easy. We reckon you might even squeeze in a third, there’s that much room.

Carpooling with four adults works too, even for those vertically blessed. The 373-litre cargo capacity is quite decent when compared to the competition in its class, and Ford have even thrown in a space saver in your contraband smuggling compartment.

Drop the 60:40-split rear seats and increase the space for golf clubs, suitcases, NOS bottles (there’s that tuner talk again). We managed to fit a 24-inch mountain bike in quiet easily. Our review car was fitted with a panoramic roof too, just to let the sun shine in.

It’s part of an optional $2000 add-on package, and is quite impressive given the size of the Focus and a nice piece of kit, if it falls within your budget. We did find that the ST-Line could use some back-seat attention though, with a few things missing.

These included air-conditioning vents, some USB ports, and some sort of cup holder integration. Up front though, an 8.0-inch colour touchscreen commands, with Ford’s SYNC 3 featuring voice-activated controls and Bluetooth phone/audio streaming.

There’s also satellite navigation with traffic messaging and a Wi-Fi Hotspot, as well as wireless charging, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Applink, and DAB+ digital radio. The standard 6-speaker system is more than sufficient for some foot tapping beats.

A FordPass modem allows for connectivity to the car via an app that will let you pre-check fuel levels, lock/unlock your ride, or remote start it with the last known climate control settings for optimal cabin conditions.

If you haven’t utilised the FordPass app and refuse to embrace technology, then Ford have provided a proper push start/stop button to ignite, spark and combust.

On the road, you almost feel compelled to make every journey include winding roads, as the Focus’ pedigree comes out to play. The handling is impressive to say the least, causing you to fantasise about being behind the wheel of its powered-up siblings.

Its precise cornering is effortless and smooth, with body roll still slightly noticeable, but it’s nothing a set of lowered springs or coil-overs couldn’t fix. At the push of a button, you can activate one of three different driving modes, including Normal, Eco and Sport.

Most of our time together was spent in Sports mode, but there’s no snap crackle and pop here; instead we were met with some decent engine/exhaust notes, with some splashes of induction sounds.

The ST-Line’s 1.5-litre three-cylinder EcoBoost turbo petrol engine is the real MVP, punching 134kW of power and 240Nm of torque. It’s enough to put a smile on our face. So too will the fuel consumption, at a claimed 6.4-lites/100km.

Throw in some spirited driving and suburban cruising, and you’re more likely to end up around 8.8-litres/100km, like we did. The 8-speed gearbox can feel a little overkill, as gear changes seem sluggish at lower speeds.

Combined with the Ford’s rotary e-shifter, just changing from drive to reverse feels delayed. The paddle shifters are more novel than practical too, and in manual mode we were unable to hold the gears till the point of redline.

It’s much simpler to leave the car in automatic Sports mode. Offered with a 5-star ANCAP rating, our test vehicle came with the optional driver assist package, which includes blind spot warning with rear cross traffic alert, active braking and adaptive cruise control.

Some of the other 2021 Ford Focus ST-Line’s safety features include forward collision warning, hill launch assist, speed limiter, power child locks, child seat ISOFIX and speed sign recognition.

Prices start from $34,837 and come standard with Ford’s 5-year unlimited kilometre warranty. Our review car was draped in Desert Island Blue, but you can also choose Moondust Silver, Active Agate Black, Metropolis White, and Blue Metallic.

In addition, you can have Magnetic, Blue Panther or Fantastic Red. Race Red or Frozen White are also available. As far as the interior goes, it’s one for all and all for one, and there’s no extra decision making here.

The 2021 Focus ST-Line is great for those who want some fast, without the furious price. It’s a car that will test your will power to resist modifying, but is enjoyable even without. It’s a brilliant daily drive or weekend thrill seeker.

For those with a bigger piggy bank, don’t overlook the top of its line ST-1 and up coming ST-3.

Our test vehicle was provided by Ford Australia. To find out more about the 2021 Focus ST-Line contact your local Ford dealership. Images courtesy of J_Hui Design/Photography.


Driving experience
Exterior styling
Interior look and feel
Technology and connectivity
Family friendliness
Value for money


Pros - huge panoramic roof; satisfying drive; internal space.
Cons - interior options; lack of automatic seat adjustment; will be hard to resist modifying.
Jason Fernandez
Jason Fernandez
Jason Fernandez is a lover of hero cars. He's owned some of the best from the Japanese and Euro performance houses, but JDM cars hold a special place in his heart. To Jason, every vehicle is a blank canvas, just waiting to get its own personality. Well known to the Sydney car scene, Jason has a passion for all things automotive.


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<strong>Pros -</strong> huge panoramic roof; satisfying drive; internal space.<br> <strong>Cons -</strong> interior options; lack of automatic seat adjustment; will be hard to resist modifying.2021 Ford Focus ST-Line (car review)