I didn't have time to read everything in this thread (yet), but I thought I'd share a couple things for anyone seriously interested in potentially buying an ST. If you're not, skim it.
First, yes, I'm buying an ST. I considered the GTI (and MS3, and Veloster Turbo, and WRX, and...) but because the ST offers a great performance package at a very very competitive price, and that I'm a Ford enthusiast, it was the obvious choice.
About the "$34k" number... if you're paying that for an ST, you're doing it wrong and getting screwed on the deal (IMHO). Yes, a loaded ST3 (all leather power/heated Recaros, HIDs, nav/Sony/MFT, etc.) with the Tangerine Scream paint, moon roof, and even the engine block heater will top out at just over $30k MSRP. Add tax/title/tag, and you should still be under $32k IF YOU PAY MSRP.
But here's the thing... there's no good reason to pay MSRP or above. The Focus ST is eligible for Ford's AXZD discount pricing plans (for employees, friends/family, associates, etc.), and anyone can become eligible for one of the discount pricing plans. ANYONE. For example, I'm using X plan for my ST purchase, which I'm getting because I know a Ford employee who is "gifting" it to me. But you can actually get X plan qualified a bunch of ways, including by joining any number of awesome clubs (automotive or not), such as the Mustang Club of America or SVT Owners Association. There's even riding, hunting, flying, and diving clubs that offer Ford X plan as a membership benefit. Join the club, become eligible for X plan, that simple (mostly).
Now, once your eligible for a discount plan, all you've got to do is find a dealership that will honor it. No, they're not required to, but Ford does "strongly encourage" it. But the good news is that many of us have found dealerships that will honor X plan on our purchases of the Focus ST. Simply playing a couple dealerships against one another makes it easy.
So, what does X plan get you? Well, MSRP on my ST3 was going to be $28,930 (no moon roof or fancy paint), plus the dealership's $700 "doc fee". On X plan, the ST price, including doc fees comes down to right around $27,550 ($1400 off MSRP), and the dealership CANNOT add any additional fees according to Ford's X plan policies. That means I'm paying around $29,600 out the door with Florida sales tax ($1600) and a new tag ($450).
Now I don't know what kind of discounts/rebates/deals you can get on a GTI Autobahn, but I know invoice on a 4 door Autobahn 6 speed is over $29,350-ish... $2k over X plan for comparably equipped (higher performance) Focus ST. Ford's clearly done their homework here and priced the ST very aggressively against the GTI.
BTW, for whatever it's worth, a couple videos posted in the last few days show stock ST's putting down 234whp/253wtq, and Steeda Autosports posted a 14.4 @ 97mph (on a hot damp Florida night).