RE: Ford Focus ST170: Spotted

RE: Ford Focus ST170: Spotted

Thursday 31st January

Ford Focus ST170: Spotted

Humbled though it may have been by what came after it, there are still things to like about the ST170



Looking back, Ford didn't do the ST170 many favours. It was clear to everyone at the time that the exceptionally nice-to-drive first generation of Focus was deserving of a performance variant, and still its maker insisted on waiting four years to deliver one. Then, when it eventually came in 2002, it neglected to give it a fighting chance; the car doomed from the start by the always-fatal combination of too little power and too much weight.

It was also hamstrung in good part because Ford had already endeavoured to make a much better job of it elsewhere. The RS model followed the ST170 into production in the same calendar year, and immediately entered the running for the title of best front-drive hot hatch ever. It too had its foibles - torque steer notoriously among them - but it was festooned with trick components as well, alongside the 212hp which had been liberated from the now turbocharged 2.0-litre engine.


So the RS went - and more importantly, cornered - like a Thomson's gazelle, and the ST170 didn't, and that was rather it for its reputation in the long run. Today, you can expect even a high-mileage example of the RS to set you back more than £10k; the ST170, meanwhile, has found itself a featured Shed on more than one occasion.

Is that entirely fair? Probably not. The model was (and is) inferior to its more famous sibling, but it was priced that way, too - and while it may have ultimately condemned its breathed-on 2.0-litre Zetec engine to ignominy via a turgid six-speed Getrag manual 'box - there was something to be said at least for the ST170's way of doing things.

For a start, it did rather look the part. Easy now to forget the impact crater created by the Focus's New Edge styling language, but, at the time, it was unquestionably Lily Collins to the Escort's Phil and it's not unreasonable to think that the ST170 - rather than the RS - represented the Mk1 at its eye-pleasing peak. Certainly it was nicer (or at least, more subtle) inside where you got an understated half-leather colour scheme instead of the garish blue on black.


It was obviously toned down in the driving, too, but not to the detriment of the Focus's free-flowing chassis, which did a fine job of harnessing its Control Blade suspension to full effect. The sophisticated quality of its damping dovetailed nicely with the feedback-happy steering, ensuring that the car delivered an oily sort of satisfaction to the driver even with the stodgy gearchange.

It was enough at any rate to furnish the ST170 with a respectable fanbase, and in 2005 howmanyleft reckons there was more than 12,500 registered in the UK. Now there's a lot less than half that, which goes someway to explaining how the asking price of today's Spotted has crept up to an optimistic £4,250. Low mileage, three doors and the best colour help to fill out the dealer's thinking, although it's worth pointing out that the same budget buys you an equally well looked after - and much quicker - EP3 Civic Type R. Which, of course, was high among the ST170's issues the first time around...


SPECIFICATION - FORD FOCUS ST170

Engine: 1,988cc, 4-cyl
Transmission: 6-speed manual, front-wheel drive
Power (hp): 172@7,000rpm
Torque (lb ft): 145@5,500rpm
MPG: 39
CO2: 218g/km
Year registered: 2004
Recorded mileage: 54,000
Price new: N/A
Yours for: £4,250

See the orginal advert here.

Author
Discussion

andy97

Original Poster:

3,502 posts

160 months

Thursday 31st January
quotequote all
These don't seem to have much love, and I am sure that they are not best of the breed, or even best of the "warm hatch backs", but they are cheap to buy (the one here seems very optimistically priced), cheap to run, have a good chassis and every scrap yard in the country will probably have Focus parts available if needed.

For £1-2k, I would have thought that they would be a good very used buy.

DBSnappa

73 posts

169 months

Thursday 31st January
quotequote all
I have one of these, it’s my work car. I’m a cabinet maker, so it gets worked hard and cosmetically it’s quite tatty now.
It’s pretty reliable. It’s had one MOT advisory in the last ten years and that was for a gash in a tyre sidewall.
It’s fuel economy is pretty bad around town. It isn’t quick. The clutch is pretty heavy (I live in London) and the ride is pretty firm. The gearbox isn’t that bad. I still think the mk1 Focus is a very elegant looking car.
I’ve driven a straight 2.0l and to be frank, it felt as fast and nicer to drive without the bigger wheels, heavy clutch, industrial gearbox and hard ride. In my opinion the ST is not a great car and never was. It kinda ruins a great car.
The dealer is really taking the urine with that price.

lee_erm

745 posts

131 months

Thursday 31st January
quotequote all
A better chassis than the Type R though.

Roon205

63 posts

14 months

Thursday 31st January
quotequote all
I’ve driven one of these a fair bit due to a friend owning one. Engine is a odd one it really has to be revved to get any sort of performance out of it unless your ready at 5k and happy to hang on till 7k it in every gear most less powered diesels will catch you out.

But smash it through the box like a teenager and it feels great think as a track car it would come into its own.

Chassis well it’s a Ford Focus was ace! But that gearbox wtf did they do I’ll never know. Has zero redeeming qualities and ruins the drive tbh.

A flawed car indeed.

s m

17,141 posts

141 months

Thursday 31st January
quotequote all
Isn't the gearbox the same as on the facelift R53 Mini Cooper S ( some minor changes ).
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Cambs_Stuart

383 posts

22 months

Thursday 31st January
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I had one of these a few years ago. Lovely to drive, if not quite as full on as a civic tyre r. Well equipped and comfy seats. The engine was easy to live with, even if it was a bit lacking in all out power. I've had worse gearboxes.
What annoyed me was the EML. Mine ate two inlet runner manifold control boxes and quite a few sensors. In the 18 months I had it is guess the EML was on for about 50% of the time.
SK04 BTT. I still see it about occasionally.

Edited by Cambs_Stuart on Thursday 31st January 08:49

CrunkleFloop

192 posts

183 months

Thursday 31st January
quotequote all
Has PH bias moved from Porsche to Ford now? Oh how the standards have fallen biglaugh

IanCress

4,409 posts

104 months

Thursday 31st January
quotequote all
That's a ridiculous price for a base spec car with various after-market bits attached to it.

Cars like my old one with the custom and comfort pack fitted feel more special. Heated leather recaro's, Xenon lamps, factory fitted subwoofer, climate control and a heated windscreen make it feel worth the money. Base spec cars don't feel much different to a standard Focus Zetec to sit in.

Never really felt like a 'hot hatch' though, mainly due to the overly tall gearing in the lower gears. It could hit 45mph in 1st and 70mph in 2nd which might sound impressive, but the reality is that it blunts acceleration. Also mine seemed to bottom out too often on bumpy roads, which put you off pushing the car hard on roads where a hot hatch should shine.

SidewaysSi

5,040 posts

172 months

Thursday 31st January
quotequote all
They didn't get a good press when launched - think everyone thought the boggo cars were better.

Average car, daft price.

mike150

387 posts

138 months

Thursday 31st January
quotequote all
SidewaysSi said:
They didn't get a good press when launched - think everyone thought the boggo cars were better.

Average car, daft price.
I worked for Ford around the time of the Focus MK1 and owned a lot of them...…………

2001 Focus Zetec TDI 90bhp
2002 Focus LX TDCI 115bhp
2002 Focus Zetec TDCI 115bhp
2003 Focus ST170
2003 Focus Zetec TDCI 115bhp

The one I rated the least would be the ST170

The ST bottomed out on spirited drives, the standard Zetec cars had great suspension

The mpg was about 25, for a car with such poor performance that was terrible, I had a 98 Impreza Turbo that did that!

The engine was gutless

It did look good and was finished better than the normal cars but that didn't make up for it and I only kept it 4 months and traded it for another 115bhp TDCI Zetec.

I actually recall trading in my 115bhp TDCI for it and within 20 miles of driving the ST170 home I was considering taking it back to see if they could reverse the deal!

Deep Thought

22,770 posts

135 months

Thursday 31st January
quotequote all
andy97 said:
These don't seem to have much love, and I am sure that they are not best of the breed, or even best of the "warm hatch backs", but they are cheap to buy (the one here seems very optimistically priced), cheap to run, have a good chassis and every scrap yard in the country will probably have Focus parts available if needed.

For £1-2k, I would have thought that they would be a good very used buy.
Thats wholly my view on them. They werent rated great at the time, but they're now getting pulled up a bit with the whole Ford "performance" interest. Quite a few clean, rust free examples still around for as you say £1-2K. I think the asking price on this one is optimistic.

Salmonofdoubt

371 posts

6 months

Thursday 31st January
quotequote all
For me it wasn’t the gearbox that killed it, yes it blunted acceleration but on a few of my favourite roads I could get away with 3rd and 4th only.

The total lack of fuel economy when plodding along or using the car in town was what made me move it on. Not sure if mine was broken (I bought it new) but a friends RS used far less petrol.

Car-Matt

1,560 posts

76 months

Thursday 31st January
quotequote all
It was nice on the eye and inside but you could make much better progress in a tdci Sport

That would be my choice for a mk1 daily

Steve91

270 posts

58 months

Thursday 31st January
quotequote all
Keep looking at these but I don't think it'd do anything that my Ghia TDCI 115 wouldn't do. Even though I have the estate it still feels great fun to drive, and has loads more torque than the ST170.

I'll probably do it when mine dies!

Mike1990

627 posts

69 months

Thursday 31st January
quotequote all
Still a good looking car, especially in Imperial Blue, and they have such a cracking chassis underneath.

I remember following a Silver 5dr one, rather spirited infact in my then Fiesta Mk7 ST and it just seemed to flow from bend to bend and was pretty brisk enough. I’am guessing he was absolutely ragging the hell out of it though!

soad

29,444 posts

114 months

Thursday 31st January
quotequote all
shout aaron_2000

urquattroGus

971 posts

128 months

Thursday 31st January
quotequote all
Love the MK1 focus, but this is a bit of a gutless wonder.

Jon_S_Rally

204 posts

26 months

Thursday 31st January
quotequote all
I always struggle to get my head around the hate for these really. No, it's not as good as an RS, but why would it be? Ford weren't going to make two models of the same car that were in direct competition with each other, were they? It's not as wild as a Focus RS, but it's not supposed to be, so why bother making the comparison? It's basically just like an XR3i to an RS Turbo - a more junior performance model.

I do have to giggle when people say "Oh but you have to thrash the engine to make it go". So that's a bad thing in a Focus but, if it had a Honda badge on its rump, people would be tugging themselves silly over having to rev the cock off it to make it move. Well that makes sense...

Is it the greatest hot hatch ever? Nope, but it's a Focus (which is a blinkin' brilliant car), with a bit more power, better brakes and better handling. If you get one with a few options (Recaro seats especially), it's probably not a bad car at all. I think I'd probably take one over an EP3 Type-R in many ways. Yes the Honda is faster but, as a daily, the empty bean tin feel of it would wear pretty thin after a while I think.

Over £4k is silly money but, for shed money, you could do a lot worse.

Cal75

1 posts

1 month

Thursday 31st January
quotequote all
I loved the ST170. It was just an XR3i of its day. Forty more hp than the standard 2.0 Focus. Due to the VVT you had to thrash it to get the best out of it but the same can be said for the Type R and Clio 172\182. It looked fab too.

Jon_S_Rally

204 posts

26 months

Thursday 31st January
quotequote all
Car-Matt said:
It was nice on the eye and inside but you could make much better progress in a tdci Sport

That would be my choice for a mk1 daily
Until the injectors and/or fuel pump fked up laugh