Bottom line: It’s a winner that gets an enthusiastic “buy” here.

Ride, acceleration and handling: It gets excellent marks in all three.

Head-turning quotient: It looks and feels adolescent until you get to know it. With knowledge comes the wisdom that age does not matter in this relationship.

Body style/layout: The Focus ST is a compact, front-engine, front-wheel-drive performance car with four side doors and a rear hatch.

Engine/transmission: It comes with a standard 2-liter turbocharged (forced air), 16-valve in-line four-cylinder engine with variable valve timing (252 horsepower, 270 foot-pounds of torque). The engine is linked to a standard six-speed manual transmission.

Capacities: Seats five people. Cargo space is 23.8 cubic feet with rear seats up and 44.8 cubic feet with rear seats folded. The fuel tank holds 12.1 gallons of gasoline. Premium grade is recommended for best performance.

Mileage: Loaded like a miniature Santa Claus sleigh, I averaged 32 miles per gallon in mostly highway travel.

Safety: Standard equipment includes four-wheel disc brakes (ventilated front, solid rear); four-wheel anti-lock brake protection; emergency brake-force distribution; electronic stability and traction control; and side and head air bags.

Price: The 2013 Ford Focus ST starts at $23,700, with a dealer’s invoice price of $22,100. Price as tested is $28,690, including $4,195 in options (Ford MyTouch infotainment system, premium sound system; panoramic glass roof and other items) and a $795 destination charge. Dealer’s price as tested is $26,639.