Launched in late 2005, the MK2 Focus ST was Ford’s first attempt at a hot version of the MK2 Focus. Ford clearly decided to go down a totally different route to the understated (and to some people slightly underpowered) MK1 ST170 and gave the car a far more daring look than any MK2 that had come before it. Available from launch with its signature ‘Electric Orange’ paintwork and with a 2.5 litre turbocharged 5 cylinder engine sourced from Volvo, this new ST was certainly not as understated as its predecessor. In fact, Jeremy Clarkson even went as far as naming it the Focus ‘ASBO’ in his review on Top Gear, a name that has stuck with it ever since. With 222bhp and 236 Ib-ft of torque on tap, the MK2 ST certainly brought the MK2 Focus chassis to life and then some.
Although these days the MK2 ST lives slightly in the shadow of its bigger, meaner brother the MK2 RS, the ST has developed a fantastic following and has thrived off the publicity from it. The ST has a very similar engine to the RS and is in fact a very similar car overall. The fact that it is easily tuneable too means that many owners see it as an easy way to owning a cut price RS.
Models and Trim Levels
From launch, the MK2 Focus ST was available in 3 different trim levels from the factory as well as having a number of options available. The trim levels offered were marketed simply as the ST, ST2 and ST3. All models came equipped with 18” ST alloy wheels, front Recaro sports seats, ST body kit, front fog lights, air conditioning, unique ST boot spoiler and a twin exit exhaust system. The ST also had a 15mm lower ride height than a standard Focus with 30 percent stiffer springs.
This model is actually a fairly rare find as most owners opted to purchase the ST2 or ST3 when new. To to be honest, when buying second hand you are probably better off doing the same, as the price difference between the ST and ST2 is very minimal. There are also plenty to choose from so you can afford to be fussy!
The ST is easily identified from its higher spec counterparts by its lack of Xenon headlights (and therefore headlight washers).
No Headlight Washer
The ST also came equipped with Ford’s standard single disc CD player and fabric Recaro sports seats with colour coded side bolsters. ESP was not included on this model as standard until sometime in 2008, although some have it as an optional extra.
The Focus ST2 is a very easy to find and popular specification level for the MK2 Focus ST. It has all the same features as the ST but adds several more including:
· Ford ‘Quickclear’ heated front windscreen
· Xenon Lights with washers and auto levelling
· Single Disc Sony branded CD player with MP3 compatibility, aux input in the glove box and 2 extra speakers
The Focus ST3 offered the highest standard spec from the factory and included all the ST2 features plus:
· Full leather Recaro interior with heated front seats
· Sculpted Recaro leather rear bench (ST3 is 4 seat only all other versions seat 5)
· Sony branded in dash 6 disc CD Player (MP3 compatible 2007 onwards)
Cloth Recaros In ST/ST2
Leather Recaros In ST3
The Focus ST500 is a limited edition (500 cars) model that Ford sold as a final farewell to the pre facelift MK2. Only available from late 2007 to early 2008, the ST500 was based on the Focus ST3 but added some unique features:
· Red leather heated Recaro sports seats and matching sculpted rear bench.
· Only available in Panther Black paint.
· Sports appearance pack (silver bonnet, side, roof and boot stripes)
· Unique ST500 badging and ‘Limited Edition 1/500’ plaque
· Auto lights/wipers and auto dimming rear view mirror (visibility pack)
· Solar reflect windscreen
A Focus ST500
ST500 Unique Plaque
Red Leather Recaro Seats
As Ford updated and face lifted the regular Focus in 2008, this of course meant that the Focus ST would be updated too. The changes brought about a completely restyled front end for this ST with new headlights, front bumper and wings. The alloys looked similar but were slightly re-designed, as were the wing badges. The rear also changed fairly dramatically with a new rear bumper and diffuser to house the twin tailpipes. There were also interior changes too with a few extra toys. The dash was now clad in carbon fibre (the plastic version unfortunately), and all ST’s now came equipped with keyless start and a ‘Ford Power’ button. The clocks/dials were also redesigned with a larger trip computer display and more functions. Lots more optional extras were also made available too, keeping the ST up there with the best hot hatches in terms of equipment levels.
Even today there are many Focus ST fans out there that still prefer the look of the pre facelift due to the fact that the front end stands out more over the regular Focus. However, the facelift has become the most desirable these days due to its extra toys, fresher looks and slightly more modern feeling interior.
On top of the standard equipment packs, various options were offered over the years including:
· Bluetooth with voice control (Later including USB in centre armrest)
· DVD based sat nav (later with reverse camera)
· Heated cloth seats on ST/ST2 (rare option)
· Sculpted rear cloth seats on ST/ST2 (rare early option)
· Ford Privacy Glass (tinted rear windows)
· Rear colour coded parking sensors
· Power inverter with 240v socket in rear
· SD card based sat nav
· Dual zone digital climate control
· Electric sunroof
· Space saver spare wheel with jack, wrench and raised boot floor (reduces boot space over standard repair kit)
· Global closing on windows (includes rear electric windows on 5 door)
· DAB Sony radio (later models)
· Keyless entry
· Visibility pack (auto lights, wipers and dimming rear view mirror)
· Solar reflect windscreen
· Do not believe the ads that say an ST has cruise control. Ford never offered cruise control as an option on the ST, it was only offered on the regular Focus.
2010 Model Year Changes
If you are looking at a later example of a MK2 ST, Ford made some key changes in 2010 to the line-up. The base model ST was discontinued leaving only the ST2 and ST3 available. Panther Black wheels now became available as standard (silver was still an option) and both the ST2 and ST3 now had the added benefits of having the Visibility Pack, Global Closing and DDS (Deflation Detection System). The ST3 from 2010 also came as standard with Sony DAB Radio, Keyless Entry, Dual Zone Digital Climate Control and Privacy Glass making for a thoroughly high spec vehicle!
At launch, the MK2 Focus ST was available in Electric Orange, Performance Blue, Diamond White, Colorado Red, Sea Grey, Panther Black, Moondust Silver. Added to the range through the years were Frozen White (replaced Diamond White) and Ice White (Pearlescent).
What to Watch Out For
Overall, the MK2 ST is a fairly solid car and had proved to be quite reliable. However, now that it has been on the road for a few years, several common faults have come to light and are worth keeping an eye out for, particularly when purchasing a MK2 ST. With plenty of good, used examples to choose from, you should be able to find yourself a tidy fault-free car.
· Ensure that the side skirts are firmly attached as they have been known to come lose from the body, although this is not a difficult fix.
· The alternator has been known to fail, particularly on earlier cars. Check to make sure you have no flickering headlights and no battery warning light on the dash.
· The oil filter housing diaphragm has been a common fault on the ST. Symptoms include a high pitch noise whilst the engine is running that stops when you pull out the dipstick. This can cost up to a few hundred pounds to fix. Although Ford never officially acknowledged the problem, a revised version was fitted to cars from some point in 2008 (around the time of the facelift) and the later versions seem to be more reliable.
· Seat bases can crack. Check the front Recaro seats for excessive creaking.
· Clutches and drive shafts are a known weakness on these cars, particularly on tuned exampled. Check for clutch slip by planting your foot in 6th gear from low rpm. If the revs go up quickly with little or no acceleration then it’s slipping. If you decide to fit an uprated example from the RS (recommended) then budget around £1000 to have it fitted including the dual mass flywheel.
· Boost solenoids are a common failure and can mean that the car will be down on power. Check the car’s boost gauge. A standard car should hold boost to almost exactly half way on the gauge (0.6 bar) and a mapped car should hold around three quarters (0.9 bar) or more. If it fluctuates too much then the solenoid could be at fault.
· ST’s are known to sometime suffer from MAP and MAF sensor faults.
· A few ST’s have been known to crack their liners so watch out for this. The facelift block has supposedly been revised slightly but some have still been known to suffer from this.
While not a major problem on the ST MK2 due to it being a fairly recent car, there do seem to be some design faults from Ford that seem to have caused a few spots to be prone to rusting on the MK2 ST (and the MK2 Focus in general).
Rear Arches – When looking at a MK2 ST, be sure to check the rear arches on both sides where the bumper meets the arch. There seems to have been a few cases of bumpers not aligning quite correctly and chaffing on the rear arches. Over time this can slowly wear through the paint until bare metal is exposed and rust starts to form. Ford only recently released a ‘fix’ for this issue by adding small clear pads between the bumper and the rear arch on affected cars.
Boot Stops – Take a look on the sides of the boot lid itself where the lid meets the rubber stops on each side. These areas can also rub against the stops, causing the paint to wear through and rust to form. On later cars Ford again added a patch to each side of a clear transparent tape. The purpose of this is to stop any wear taking place. It is still worth keeping an eye on it even if the car has these fitted though.
Above the Boot Seal – Also worth checking is above the rubber boot seal where the rear washer tubing comes through. The rubber from the washer tubing chafes against the paintwork and again can eventually wear through causing rust. Ford never officially acknowledged that this was an issue, although mysteriously 2010 onwards cars seemed to appear with clear protective ‘patches’ over the affected area.If your MK2 Focus ST has any of these rust/paintwork issues then be sure to check out your service book. The MK2 Focus ST has an eight year anti-corrosion guarantee from Ford that will cover these defects. However the warranty only remains in place if you have your paint check (in the service book) stamped every two years by your Ford dealer. Not all cars have had this kept up so it is also worth checking for this alongside the usual service stamps when buying one.
Protective Patch Installed Above the Boot Seal
The MK2 Focus ST has immense tuning potential thanks to its turbo charged engine sourced from Volvo. Many cars will have been modified in some way by now so don’t necessarily let this put you off when buying one, as modified ones are normally well looked after, pampered and cherished by their careful owners. Even examples that are not modified may have had modifications at some point in time as it is quite common for owners to remove running parts and sell them on when they get rid of the vehicle.
Remapping is one of the most common and simple modifications that ST owners perform. A simple map can add anywhere in the region of 25-50bhp and a whole heap of torque to go with it. It is a great way of unlocking the potential of that lovely five cylinder engine. There are various companies out there offering performance maps for the ST and even do-it-yourself handsets with pre-loaded maps are available. It is recommended to stick to well-known names with tried and tested maps. As long as you stick to this rule then you should not have an issue. Due to the increase torque that comes with remapping it is worth bearing in mind that mapped cars do tend to kill the standard ST clutch faster so it may be worth budgeting for an RS clutch at some point in the future. Some cars slip as soon as they are mapped and others seem to go on for years with no issues. It really depends on how the car is driven by both yourself and the previous owner but it does seem to be a bit of a lottery. All that is really known for definite is that the increased torque of a mapped car WILL wear the clutch out faster than a standard car.
Exhaust Systems are also a very popular modification and are an essential part of the package if looking to go for a full stage 3 or above tune. The exhaust system comes in three main sections; the turbo down pipe, the catalytic convertor and the ‘cat-back’ system. The larger turbo down pipe and sports cat or de-cat (illegal so use at your own risk) are essential for a stage 2/3 or above car. The cat-back systems are mainly for a nicer noise and better looks with their nice shiny tips. A similar sound can be had for a significantly cheaper price by performing a ‘de-res’ mod on the standard exhaust. This involves removing the second silencer and replacing it with a straight bit of pipe in a similar way to aftermarket exhaust systems.
Another vital part of a complete package is an uprated intercooler. Whilst the ST already comes with a proper front mount intercooler, it is not that big. A larger version is required when going for a stage 2 or above tune, and helps on all cars in warmer summer temperatures.
An Uprated Intercooler Next to the Stock Item
Induction kits and replacement panel filters are popular and readily available too. The standard air box on the car is actually known for being pretty good and can handle up to around 300bhp with a simple panel filter replacement. An induction kit can provide a great soundtrack and is necessary to go beyond 300bhp.
Suspension mods can include lowering springs (Eibach actually make a popular Ford approved kit that many cars have fitted) and full systems with shocks etc. Big brake kits are also popular with up to massive 8-pot callipers available for the MK2!
A full stage 3/3+ ST is capable of hitting figures around the 300 – 320bhp mark with the standard block and turbo. Beyond this there are plenty of options available but a new or hybrid turbo will be required along with a minimum of the block mod or and RS block with stronger internals. With many other mods along the way STs have been known to hit beyond 400 and even 500bhp so there is plenty of potential there if modification is something you’re interested in. Be warned though, it is an expensive and slippery slope and the idea of doing one or two small mods can soon turn into doing a lot more.
Mountune Performance are Fords official tuning partner and are worth bearing in mind when looking at the MK2 ST. They offer two standard packages for the MK2 ST, the MP260 (260ps) and MR290 (290ps). The MP260 is fairly common to find on used STs and includes a remap, uprated intercooler and a K&N panel filter. EVO magazine actually did a test and drag raced a stock RS against an MP260 ST with the ST coming out on top all the way to over 130mph from standing, largely due to its reduced weight and increased torque figures. The MR290 goes one step further and add revised mapping as well as a full exhaust system and inlet plenum. Both upgrades are expensive when compared to other tuners but the MP260 has the added benefit of being Ford approved and is also very cheap to insure (modification wise). Mountune maps are also known for being some of the smoothest and most driveable in the business so if you see a car for sale with one of these kits on it then it’s well worth checking out.
Fuel is the biggest cost when running a MK2 Focus ST thanks to its lovely five cylinder turbocharged engine so don’t believe the official figures. You are likely to average between 22 and 24 mpg in normal driving although it is possible to achieve low 30s on a sensible motorway run. The figures can easily drop into the low teens if you give the car some stick though so be warned!
The MK2 ST JUST escaped the scary side of road tax brackets with 224g/km of CO2 placing it in band K. At the time of writing (2013) it costs £280 per year.
Servicing is fairly reasonable on the MK2 ST. A service is required every year or 12500 miles (whichever comes sooner). Expect to pay around £200 for an interim service or £350 for a full service at a main dealer or less at a specialist. Ford recommend the timing belt is changed at 10 years of 125000 miles although most specialists would recommend this is done much sooner.
Front tyres typically last around 10000 miles with the rears lasting considerably longer. The ST has 18” wheels so expect to pay between £90 and £150 per corner for something reasonable. Don’t skimp out on the tyres either. After all, these are what is going to put down all that power through the front wheels and bring you to a stop safely!
If you need any more information then please ask on our forums at www.fordownersclub.com where you can put your questions to other real Ford owners.