Tell me about the variable ratio steering. How variable is it? How do you like it/not like it?
I'll be driving it in a few weeks in Boston, looking forward to it.
Super long-time lurker, minimal poster. I'm the owner of Focaljet.com, a Ford Focus enthusiast website, and was part of a group of media who were invited to France to drive the upcoming 2013 Focus ST.
I spent approximately eight hours and 500 kilometers in a euro-spec Focus ST last week on some great roads just outside Vence, France. Half driving, and half as a passenger.
I thought my experience might be of some interest to TCL. So, without further ado, ask me anything.
Did Ford happen to mention what differences there will be between the European and US/Canuckistan models?
Are you able to compare/contrast the ST with any of the other "hot hatches" currently available in the US? Performance? Fit & Finish? Every-day-usability?
Did Ford provide any of the ST's European competitors to drive alongside the ST?
I went for a few hot laps around Hallett Raceway the other week in a Focus ST. Non-Ford employees were not allowed to drive it unfortunately, but from the passenger seat I was highly impressed. Plenty of power and grip it seemed. I loved the SVT Focus and the ST seems to fill that niche nicely.
I found the system to be pretty unobtrusive and about as natural as something like this can feel. I think that Ford's EPAS tuning is some of the best I've driven.
It weighted up nicely when attacking switchbacks, and while the feel still may be called artificial by some, it did provide a lot of feedback. On the route there were many tight hairpins. And driven hard, where the variable ration came into play, I don't recall even really needing to take either hand off the wheel. A quick 180-degree crossover was all that was required. Although, I should note that the rear suspension is upgraded over the standard Focus which helped the car rotate nicely.
Conversely at low speeds (parking, etc.) it was effortless.
All in all, I have to give it high marks for being as 'analog' as is currently available on a car in this price range employing those technologies. Along with the actual benefit of making the car easier to drive around town, and at speed.
Last edited by Focaljet; 06-27-2012 at 12:05 PM.
I'll admit I'm pretty interested in this car. Though would want to subdue it visually as much as possible (ie not opting for some of the more "interesting" interior color combos)
Glad FocalJet is still going strong. Used to hang out there a fair amount when we had a couple of the 1st gen Focuses.
Is the Focus ST more like a GTI or a Golf R? What do you think is it's natural competitor?
On paper it looks like a head-to-head bash between the ST & the R but I'm not so sure that will be the case in real-life, but then again I didn't get any seat-time on it.
I'm really interested in this new attempt from Ford to bring the cool european models here instead of developing US-market specific sucky cars. If you look at it this is the very first REAL competitor for VW in the hot-hatch segment.
For instance, North American models don't get the LED strip head/taillights. The nav system was different. We get MyFordTouch (MFT), etc.
But, for all intents and purposes, the cars sold worldwide are more alike I believe than any previous Ford product. For instance North America, Europe and Asia all get exactly the same tire on the car. Eagle F1 Asymmetric 2s to be exact.
Speaking in terms of US only competitors, Ford is matching the ST to the GTI. It's similar in size, price, door count (although the Focus is 5-Door only) and features. However, the ST has a substantial leg up on HP.
Now, you can put it against the Golf R and the R will probably come out on top. But, I think it's a lot closer than people think. Along with be substantially less expensive. Don't get me wrong, I love the R. But, if you are on a budget, you owe it to yourself to at least drive the ST.
Also, a lot of people will include the Mazdaspeed3 in the list. And, while it's similarly priced, and has more HP, it's feeling a bit long in the tooth these days IMO.
Fit and finish was really good on the cars we drove. I won't make a final critique until I see a US production car. If they can hold the quality of what we drove, then I think they will give VW a run for their money.
One note on the optional Recaro seats. They are very nice, but a bit tight. I am suggesting that anyone considering ordering them not do so unless they try them first.
Lastly, we did not get the chance to drive any competitive metal.
I have to be honest, I went into it thinking it was going to be a gimmick. But, in the end, it really does add to the fun of the car.
And, just to be clear, it's not creating any artificial sound (THAT would be a gimmick) but simply shall we say amplifying the induction sound. And, it only does it at appropriate times. It fades into the background if the car is being driven easily.
Awesome, thanks for the info.
I haven't seen any new STs up my way and the local Ford dealers rarely carry any of the premium models so I appreciate the info. I was hoping to test drive a Euro-spec ST or at least sit in one but the nicest thing thing I can find on the lots is the outgoing Mondeo.
How's it shift - I'm basing this question especially on the fun-as-hell 2nd to 3rd gear pull. How about torque steer? Since the ST is lacking Revo-Knuckle, how is the feedback with respect to keeping the wheels planted deep in 2nd gear on straights and turns?
You've driven an MS3, yes? Compare the two.
I have to say first off that I have not driven an R (I plan too when the opportunity arises). Although I did speak with a couple journalists that have. They were actually split. One gave the nod to the R (when price is not factored in) and the other put the ST much closer to the R.
I know this is a VW enthusiast site, and I personally have been a GTI fan since '83. I still think of it as the gold standard of US hot hatches. But, without any intentional bias, I can say that the ST takes the lead at this point.
The R is a trickier proposition. I think it's a phenomenal car. And, for many, the right choice. It's got AWD, probably gets the nod on fit/finish/features, and even a couple of extra ponies. It also may have more cachet. At least in some circles. However, you can't ignore the price difference.
Both cars I drove had what comes with the US "ST2" package. They are partial leather, with the rest being cloth.
One thing I found out after the fact is that I believe the full-leather option seat has an additional thigh support that pulls out. But, I have not confirmed that. If that's the case, I would have gone out of my way to sample those seats. I had assumed they were identical save for the additional leather surfaces.
Oddly, both I and my co-driver thought that while the throws were longer than we liked, the travel side to side was a hair shorter than we expected. Whether that is something that is a pro or con depends on your own personal preferences. Initially, it felt a bit off for me, but it became a non-issue after getting use to it.
And you are correct that the ST does not include the vaunted "RevoKnuckle". I'm sure that this is partially due to cost. Although, the official Ford statement on the matter is that it is not necessary with the amount of HP the ST generates.
Also, the ST does not have a mechanical LSD, but rather an electronically controlled one. Ford calls it 'Torque Vectoring Control' and I assume it is very similar to VW's 'XDS'. Although, I cannot speak to their differences technically.
Now, the rear of the car has been reworked quite a bit over the standard Focus. The rear anti-roll bar mounting points have been moved outboard substantially. And the difference is noticeable.
I have driven the MS3, albeit a while ago. I think the car's power delivery is more brutal, and of course there is more of it. However chassis-wise, the story has moved on. The MS3 is due for a big refresh and it shows. Quickest around a road course. My gut says ST, all day long.
When it was announced that the ST would make it to the US (which was a great decision by Ford, IMO!), several people in this forum wondered why Ford would even bother with this car in our market because you can get a Mustang V6 with the performance package for the same price. I would think that the demographics would differ quite a bit between people who consider these two performance vehicles, but as I'm constantly reminded around here, people will and do compare anything with wheels.
So I'm curious if you've driven an 11+ Mustang V6 with the PP, how does it compared with your driving experience of the ST? Ride, drive, handling, seat of the pants acceleration feel--how do they compare. I would also be interested in how you think the steering compares between the two. The mustang also has EPAS, but not variable ratio (at least not that I'm aware of) and I have to be honest, the steering in the mustang is fairly numb. I certainly wouldn't be surprised if you felt that the ST had better steering feel because I thought my mkV GTI had better steering than my mustang as well. And a mini that I recently drove (first time ever behind the wheel of one of these!) was even better than the GTI. So I know that fwd cars can have better steering feel than some performance rwd cars.
Originally Posted by Boyz in da Park
For instance, I am a small car guy (I currently have an Abarth and a Fit Sport manual). Even the Focus is getting to be a bit larger than I prefer. On top of that, I'm not the best person to compare the two because I haven't driven one of the newer Mustangs.
I do totally respect Mustangs for what they are. And, if I have tons of disposal income I would consider a Boss 302 Laguna Seca.
But, the idea of putting the two cars together in a shootout sounds great. We don't have any of the resources of the buff books. But, if they don't do it first, and I can get my hands on both cars at relatively the same time, then I will try and pull off that article.
But your post open up another line of questions: ST vs Abarth? The Abarth isn't a cheap car, IMO, and I could see someone interested in a hothatch crosshopping the two cars, at least initially. How does a focus fanatic rate the latest and greatest performance Focus against the Abarth?
I believe the CA base is: $29,999. We have a thread on it here:
And yes, HID on the 'ST3' package. But, no LED on the North American cars.