Ford Focus ST/XR5 Turbo
(2006 - 2011)

  • Offers a great platform for tasteful tuning
  • Great driving experience right out of the box
  • Good practicality
  • Many examples will have been abused
  • High likelihood some have received crappy mods
  • Buying one will require a lot of homework

One belter from the Noughties that’s flown under the radar lately is Ford’s Focus XR5 Turbo. It arrived in 2006, its styling a ‘just right’ blend of raciness and maturity, taking on the likes of Golf GTI and Astra Turbo as a sort of Euro hatchback extrapolation of the then popular Falcon XR6 Turbo.

Ford’s feisty five-door generally garnered rave reviews in the local media, that ‘just right’ promise executed via solid refinement and everyday-friendly manners with a cracking chassis and flexible powertrain.

With its 6.8sec 0-100km/h performance claim it wasn’t the hottest hatch on the block, it delivered loads as an all-rounder, brought useable real-world performance and, at $36k and cheaper than Golf GTI, it didn’t break the piggy bank.

Its quality is in pedigree. Built in five-door only, in German, its go-fast chops were largely developed by the Ford Team RS World Rally Championship arm in the United Kingdom. And to source its muscle, the XR5 Turbo lifts its turbocharged 2.5-litre five cylinder from Volvo. Add the fact its platform shared development with Mazda 3 makes for a real international cocktail.

The big five-pot afforded both the desired power, 166kW in Aussie spec, and broad torque of 320Nm at 1600-4000rpm. Despite its notoriously abrupt clutch take-up as standard, the six-speed manual-only XR5 Turbo is renowned for its flexible drivability. At a respectable 9.6L/100km claimed, it runs on a minimum of 95RON fuel.

A fine ride and handling balance and sharp steering arrive through myriad tweak that separated the XR5 Turbo from the base $20k Focus. Spec includes body reinforcement, (30-percent) firmer and (15mm) lower suspension, a quicker steering with three-mode electromechanical adjustment, big brakes and 18-inch wheels. Damping is bit terse by today’s standards, but for 2006…

Inside, the showcase is the conspicuous Recaro sports buckets, that could be had with leather trim for an extra $2k. There’s also a go-fast array of boost, temperature and oil pressure gauges. The level of standard equipment is quite decent, including six airbags, air-con, central locking and a six-stacker CD player, though the absence of cruise control is a bit of a head-scratcher.

Otherwise, Ford’s interior design and execution in this era were an acquired taste and certainly not a highlight, though the cabin is reasonably roomy and the five-door makes for decent practicality, even if the boot is bit small.

The early LS versions were mildly facelifted in late-2007’s LT guise and this generation lived through LV (2008) and LV II (late 2010) model designations. The package, though, remained largely unchanged.
In 2010, the XR5 Turbo was joined by a manic, limited-edition, three-door, high-performance Focus RS, boasting 224kW and 440Nm with a suitably steep $60k price tag to match its pace, credentials and exclusivity.

While the Focus RS would live on as an all-wheel-driven monster hatch, the XR5 Turbo
nameplate and its appealing five-cylinder heartbeat were put to pasture after it was replaced, in late 2012, by a new 2.0-litre turbo-four-pot Focus ST.

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What goes wrong
  • Weak points on the ST are the points where the rear arches meet the bumper. A misaligned bumper will eventually rub away the paint and allow corrosion in. Ford acknowledged the problem by fitting plastic pads/tape between the panel and bumper.
  • Ford also made adjustments to the boot lid bump stops and on the rubber boot seal by the washer tube, both of which had similar paint-rubbing issues.
  • Water can get into the boot through the tailgate hinge seam or via a leaky washer bottle.
  • Another problem the Focus is known to suffer from is water entering the wiper motor, this can cause the motor itself to overheat and cause a short circuit therefore melting the trim around it.
  • The windscreen washers themselves can also leak water into the spark plug housing and cause corrosion.
  • The side skirts can become loose, but sorting that isn’t hard.
  • The bases of the Recaro seats have a reputation for cracking or splitting, this can be identified by excess creaking or squeaking noises.
  • There are reports that the air conditioning is known to blow cold air for 5-10 minutes before blowing hot air thanks to a faulty compressor clutch, it may also stop working altogether if there is a leak in the compressor shaft seal, all of which can be a nightmare to fix because it’s all hidden in there somewhere.
  • The 5-cylinder B5254T4 engine in these is a Volvo engine and when standard and unmodified, is a good reliable unit.
  • One of the common issues is related to the PCV system or the positive crankcase ventilation system, the problem here is caused by a leaking diaphragm in the PCV valve which on these engines is part of the oil filter housing. Typically, you’ll hear a sucking sound, it’ll run terribly and have lean air fuel ratio fault codes. It’s not too complicated to fix but the part from Ford in Australia is around a $1000. There are much cheaper non-genuine options available.
  • The timing belt on these is scheduled every 180,000km which in a perfect world might be ok but if you have any oil leaks from camshaft or crankshaft seals (which can be exacerbated by PCV system
    complications) the belt won’t last that long. And we’ve also seen the water pump (which is driven by the timing belt) fail long before 180k. My tip is change it all, the belt, the seals and the water pump every 100k. Much safer.
  • Other than that, have a good look of the engine bay plastics, things like expansion tanks, the side tanks on the radiator and thermostat housings. They’re at the age now where if they haven’t already been replaced, they’ll brittle and likely to fail.
  • The engines in standard form are pretty good but the thing is, a lot of them are not standard. And when the boost gets wound up too much, and if the operator lacks mechanical sympathy, you start to see cracks. Literally, cracks in cylinder liners, cylinder blocks and heads. They also tend to break transmissions and driveshafts too. So, like any car that’s been modified you’ve got to make sure the mods are done right by someone that knows what they’re doing. It’s totally ok to ask to see receipts, and if the seller can’t produce any and it looks the slightest bit sketchy, maybe look for another one.
Model range, pricing & features

XR5 Turbo

  • Price when new: $35,990 - $36,990
  • Price used: $8,000 - $22,500

Debuting in Australia in April 2006, the German designed and engineered Focus XR5 Turbo (known as the Focus ST globally) became the sports-orientated model in the Focus range, whilst also sharing the top-of-the-range mantle with the Ghia sedan. The XR5 Turbo came standard with a Volvo engineered turbocharged 5-cylinder engine mated to a 6-speed manual transmission.

Design highlights included a sports body kit, 18-inch alloy wheels, a rear spoiler and twin exhaust system. Mechanically, the XR5 Turbo gained sports suspension, sports steering and larger disc brakes (front and rear).

Inside, the XR5 Turbo came standard with front Recaro sports seats, electric windows and mirrors, a Sony Premium audio system with 8-speakers and a 6 disc in-dash CD player, sports additions like a sports steering wheel, alloy foot pedals and auxiliary gauges for the oil temperature, pressure and turbo boost mounted in the centre, on top of the dash.

Safety equipment included 6 airbags, height adjustable seatbelts with pretensioners and load limiters, ABS, EBD, DSC and traction control. The XR5 Turbo was awarded a 4-star ANCAP safety rating.

The XR5 Turbo remained until 2011 until it was replaced with the ‘ST’ model when the Mark III Focus landed in Australia in October 2012.

The XR5 Turbo had two updates, the LT, which was a model-year update and consisted of no new major features/refreshes to the model and the LV which was introduced in June 2008 and featured a face-lifted front end as well as new fog lamp design, LED tail-lights and bluetooth connectivity.

Standard features:

18-inch alloy wheels
Sports body kit
Dual exhaust
Rear spoiler
320mm front disc brakes (up from 278mm on the standard Focus)
280mm rear disc brakes (up from 260mm on the standard Focus)
Adjustable sports steering
XR5 Turbo sports suspension and lowered ride height
4-star ANCAP safety rating
6 airbags: driver and front passenger, front side and curtain airbags
Height adjustable front seatbelts with pretensioners and load limiters
Three point seatbelts for all seats
Seatbelt reminder
Anti-lock braking system (ABS)
Electronic brakeforce distribution (EBD)
Dynamic/electronic stability control (DSC/ESC)
Traction control
Engine immobiliser
Alarm system
Headlamp levelling
Front fog lamps
Intermittent front windscreen wipers
Intermittent rear windscreen wiper
Remote central locking
3-spoke sports steering wheel with audio controls
Steering wheel tilt and telescopic adjustment
Trip computer
Manual air conditioning
Electric mirrors – heated with integrated indicator lamps
Electric windows – front and rear with auto up/down for all windows
Additional auxiliary gauges: oil temperature, oil pressure and turbo boost
Digital clock
Sports gear knob and handbrake cover (alloy look)
Sports pedals
Front Recaro sports bucket seats
8-way adjustable drivers seat
Driver’s adjustable lumbar support
8-speaker Sony sound system
AM/FM radio
6-stacker in dash CD player
2x front cup holders
Front seat back pockets
Foldable armrest
Sunglasses holder
Driver and front passenger vanity mirror
Interior lights: front map lights, submarine lighting and boot light
60:40 split rear folding seats

LV (June 2008) update:
Facelifted front end – new design aligned to Ford’s ‘kinetic’ design
New front fog lamp design
LED tail-lights
Bluetooth connectivity

Should you buy it?

Buying any performance car comes with its fair share of risks as there is a chance previous owners have driven them to and beyond the point of abuse, and with how affordable the XR5 has become, more idiots are buying these, so

It is critical to make sure the XR5 you’re looking at has a full and thorough service history, that it has clearly been cared for and has both the minimal amount of kilometres, modifications and previous owners as possible. And make sure you have a full pre purchase inspection carried out as these can hide some serious gremlins, but find an XR5 that ticks all these boxes, like this one, and yes, you should buy one, it can make for an awesome used car.

But it could also be a complete disaster, so do your homework

Warranty & servicing


3 years/100,000kms


12 months/15,000kms

Tech specs

Body style:

5-door hatchback


2.5 litre 5-cylinder turbocharged petrol


160kW (2.5 litre 5-cylinder turbocharged petrol)


320Nm (2.5 litre 5-cylinder turbocharged petrol)

Transmission & drivetrains:

6 speed manual, front wheel drive (FWD)

Fuel consumption:








Kerb weight:



Information correct as of July 01, 2022.

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