I examined all the traditional competitors to the ST before making the decision to buy and I don't regret it one bit. The car looks fantastic for the outside and the interior is a very pleasant place to spend time.
The Recaro seats are tight (I am 6.2 and not a small man) however they are comfortable, really connect you with the car and give a sense of security. The engine is a joy, with heaps of pull from 2000 rpm in all gears, right up to the red line, and the smile I get from the engine note is not disappearing from my face any time soon.
I took it up a mountain road near my home on the third day I owned it and the experience will never leave me. The ST goes like a stabbed rat; with a chassis that is certainly the best of any car I have ever driven and steering so direct that makes you feel like the car is sniffing out corners.
Minor annoyances are the Ford Sync system, which is fiddly and difficult to use (all attempts to connect iPod has so far failed) and the puzzlingly enormous turning circle. But they are minor grievances when stacked up against the whole package.
Considering that my local VW dealer was asking $42K for a demo Golf GTI with no options and Mazda MPS has the looks only a mother could love, the ST at $36K (not including paint treatment and tinting) represented a fair better deal. Overall, a brilliant car. I am convinced it will not be my last Ford hot hatch.