New Vs. Old: 2019 Ford Focus ST Raises Its Game Leaving Predecessor In The Dust

The all-new 2019 Ford Focus ST is hands down the most sophisticated generation yet.

It brings features such as an eLSD, torque vectoring, Selectable Drive Modes, anti-lag technology, adaptive damping, and much more. Despite that, the latest Focus ST will be a forbidden fruit in the automaker’s home market, a decision that will no doubt let down American fans of Ford performance cars. Imagine their disappointment when the new Focus RS comes!

To show them what they’re going to miss, we’ve decided to run a visual comparison of the all-new Ford Focus ST and its predecessor that’s currently on sale Stateside (and in Europe and other markets around the world). Since Ford hasn’t released photos of the 2019 Focus ST wagon yet, we’ll focus (pun unintended) our comparison on the five-door hatchback version of the two generations. Game on!

The new grille gives the 2019 Focus ST a more confident attitude

Viewed from the front, it’s obvious that Ford went for an evolutionary approach when it comes to the styling of its new hot hatch. The most visible modification concerns the shape of the grille, which has gone from a “sad” trapezoid to a “happy” one. Furthermore, the entire front end seems modeled around the grille.

That completely transforms the Focus ST’s face, giving it both a friendlier and more aggressive vibe. The honeycombs in the grille are much larger than on the previous-generation model and they extend to the lower grille as well. Factor in the creased bonnet, high-tech headlights and wing-shaped trims around the fog lights and you get a Focus ST that means business even before the first turn of the key.

Different proportions with more sculpted lines and a focus on rear passengers

While the profile may not be the 2019 Focus ST’s most attractive part, the new car does appear more slender than its predecessor. That’s mostly due to the larger glasshouse (despite the fact that the third lateral window is now integrated into the door), more pronounced haunches and the sharp crease just above the sills. The bigger wheels (up to 19 inches in size) also help make the new ST look more muscular.

Let’s not forget the practical side: just look at the size of the new model’s rear doors. That translates into better access to the rear seats and a less claustrophobic environment for passengers thanks to the wider, taller rear windows. It’s not just an assumption, it’s what we learned during our first drive in the new Focus.

2019 Focus ST’s motorsport-inspired rear bumper has “hot hatch” written all over it

Much like the front, the 2019 Focus’ rear end is better at evoking the car’s performance. While both Focus STs feature sizeable roof spoilers, the bumpers are very different. The new model has gone for a motorsport-inspired fascia that integrates a rear diffuser flanked by two round exhaust tips. It also features cutouts on each side that are “filled” with the fog lamps. The older Focus ST has a more “civilized” bumper, even though the central intertwined tailpipes are a nice touch.

The taillights are quite different too, with the new Focus ST adopting a more horizontal shape to emphasize the car’s width. As for the old Focus ST (and regular Focus), yours truly has never understood what Ford was trying to achieve with those awkward-looking taillights.

A less cluttered dashboard is always a good idea

The interior is where things get most interesting because that’s the part of the new Focus ST that’s most different compared to its predecessor. The bulky center console of the outgoing model makes way for a more minimalist one in the new model, as the “floating” center touchscreen of the SYNC 3 infotainment system incorporates more functions that were previously assigned to physical buttons.

The new layout gives the impression that the dash sits lower than before but it also means that the 2018 Focus ST’s performance gauges on top of the dash had to go. The rest of the cabin is rather similar, including the steering wheel and the Recaro front seats.

The new model is quicker, has more horses, and apparently less turbo lag

And so we’ve reached the final leg of our journey: performance. The 2019 Focus ST’s 2.3-liter EcoBoost turbo-four produces 280 Euro horses (276 hp) at 5,500 rpm and 420 Nm (310 lb-ft) of torque from 3,000 rpm to 4,000 rpm. That’s a healthy increase over the outgoing model’s 2.0-liter turbo four that makes 250 PS (247 hp) at 5,500 rpm and 340 Nm (251 lb-ft) from 2,000 to 4,500 rpm.

The result is a 0 to 100 km/h (62 mph) sprint in under 6 seconds, meaning the new Focus ST should shave more than half a second off its predecessor’s benchmark time of 6.5 seconds. That’s probably the acceleration achieved with the standard short-shift six-speed manual transmission that offers the option of rev-matching as part of a Performance Package.

Ford also offers a seven-speed automatic on the new Focus ST with paddle shifters and Adaptive Shift Scheduling. Did we mention the 2.3-liter EcoBoost packs anti-lag technology that contributes to an “immediate power delivery” in Sport and Track Drive Modes? We almost forgot: in the unlikely case that you care, the new Focus ST can also be had with a 2.0-liter turbo diesel engine that makes 190 PS (187 hp) at 3,500 rpm and 400 Nm (295 lb-ft) of torque between 2,000 rpm and 3,000 rpm.

  • Major Lee Gassole

    They got rid of the more aggressive looking grille and replaced it with a Mazda 3 “smile”. All the other bells and whistles are nice, but I still prefer the old look.

  • J-Triumf

    I’d say the old one looks better overall just because of its A-pillars and windshield being longer and further forward which makes for a better profile and shape, but the new one does seem to have better lights and details and a nicer interior.

  • Emoto

    Another vote for the old one looking better.

  • HaltestelleLuitpolthafen

    I love the old one, but the new one looks more refined and modern.

    It is sad that the US won’t be getting it…

  • willhaven

    I own a 2014 ST so my heart lies with that generation, but if Ford brought the new ST to the States, I would buy one in a heartbeat.

    • Socarboy

      Sorry a new Focus in the States ain’t going to happen

      • willhaven

        I can still dream.

  • Loquacious Borborygmus

    That interior is hardly a game changer.

  • kzat82

    I just traded my 2014 ST for a 2018 VW Golf Sportwagen — which I love — but I would sell it 2.2 srconds for an ST wagon. Even a Fusion wagon would be nice. Sigh.

    • DGC

      The ST Wagon was pretty cool… When I go to Europe I love to go to car dealers and look at what we can’t have. It is kind of sad all the cool stuff they get!

      Now a Golf Sportwagen R would be the ultimate car in my garage!

  • Phenomenon

    I want some of whatever this article writer is smoking. The old ST looks better in almost every way.

  • Denny Dunn

    Use the new car’s rear end and bottom half of front grill as well as the interior. Fill in the rest of the blanks with the old car. Then just make the side skirts match the lines of the front and rear bumpers. Simple.


  • Callanish

    You didn’t exactly do a slam dunk in convincing me the new one is superior to the old one in every way. That old version still holds its own.

  • Bash

    Exterior: old one is way much better.
    Interior: I can live with the either one.

  • c3vzn

    The lines are so much cleaner on the old one. It looks like they took the old phone & used the liquify tool in Photoshop to make everything unnecessarily curvy.

  • Jake

    I think they both hold their ground pretty well

  • tre916

    I’m good with the old style. I didn’t get a Mazda for a reason…

  • ProDigit

    I don’t really care about the viduals.
    They both look good.
    Although I do like the yellow interior better.
    Any news on mpg?
    Focus has horrible mpg for a hatchback, and unless it’s doing 1.5k rom on the highway, this sucker will be in the low 20s on mpg.

  • Vassilis

    I hope Ford doesn’t go down Honda’s way with the Civic by making every new generation of the Focus uglier than the previous one.

  • Shacknasty

    Pure subjectivity and really, this is an awful piece. The tech is nice but I’ll take my quaife ATB over eLSD any day. The rear is nice but the front blurs the lines between homogenized rental car and some new Mazda. And I’m sorry. But the new dash is hardly less cluttered and I’ll take my inset infotainment center over the awkward, aftermarket-looking, tumor on the new one, thank you very much.

  • I always thought the pre face version of the outgoing model was a better looking car. I do think the interior of the new car looks like it won’t age well. Looks to much like the cheaper Fiesta

  • rodriguez256

    I personally reply like the new model more. The exterior, interior, rims and lighting are more to my liking. I’ve never liked the center stacks ford did with the focus, fusion and the explorer. I’m sure the new model also gets Apple CarPlay.

  • DGC

    Sad the US won’t get the new one… But hey ST drivers, you can always get a bloated Ford SUV, not! Where are these few folks that have an ST or RS suppose to look when they want to trade? I guess one door opens and the other closes…. Volkswagen, Honda, Hyundai, KIA, Subaru and Mazda are still there for you…

  • Teflon_Tony

    New one looks like an older Mazda speed 3. I have a 2013 ST and still think it looks better than the new one.

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