Focus ST - Almost there...
I research things like crazy before I buy. This research usually goes on for a long time. I've started researching my next car. Currently I own a F-350 diesel crew cab long bed and a 2009 Focus SES. My daily commute is 40 miles one way - part rural, rural interstate, and the loop around Baltimore. The Focus has been a good daily commuter. It's nothing exciting but it generally provides a nice comfortable ride and gets decent fuel mileage. I do enjoy My-Sync and combined with my Android phone, I don't really want for much technically speaking. It's not the best handling car, but good enough for my general commuting use. My biggest complaint with it is how it gets thrown around by the wind.
Anyway, because I rack up a lot of miles annually, I'm starting to investigate possibilities for a replacement. My initial intent was going to be to replace it with a new Focus. I've driven two long term rental 2012 foci for 3 or 4 months. I must say that I've loved the Focus (both were SEL's). While the SEL is not a sports/performance car, it is (based on my experience) a notch above other run of the mill cars (that I've driven) in it's category and above. My only complaint so far would be a couple of bugs with the DCT transmission. Both SEL's that I rented had the terrible hesitation from a standing start and the feeling of clutch slippage when taking off - until shifting into second.
My plan was to wait until Ford worked out the kinks of the DCT transmission and then retire the 2009 Focus for a new Titanium perhaps. I figure that those kinks might get worked out by the 2013 or 2014 model year.
However, I've just become fully cognizant of the Focus ST. I roughly knew that something like it was in the making, but hadn't been following it very closely. Now that I've looked into it, it's got my interest piqued. It may fit the bill as a comfortable daily driver and still be able to offer some excitement without a huge tradeoff in MPG's. Lots of things things to consider here...
Why I say "Almost there" is because of how the car is optioned out. Right now my Focus has cloth seats. What a big mistake. My black labs make a mess of it. Their hair get's deeply imbedded into the pours of the fabric. It's a pain to get out. Never again. The next car must have leather seats. There is were the rub begins. To get leather in the Focus ST, you have to get the ST3 package. I'm not a big fan of built in navigation systems and would prefer to skip it. I've also never been a fan of black interiors. I wish they would offer leather in lighter colors. All in all, I think the options are two narrow - pinning you into too many things you don't want just to get what you consider a must have. Not that this is anything new. All makers seem to do this in my opinion - especially in the initial year a new model is offered.
Last but not least - of the things preventing me from racing down and opening my wallet right now - is that fact that this is the first year for this model. Like the issues I mentioned above with the regular Focus - and the need to wait until they are ironed out - waiting until at least a year has passed for a new model is a consideration that's always in the forefront of my mind.
For the moment, the ST looks like an interesting/exciting possibility and I'll be watching to see what happens with this car....
It would be nice to have other interior options, but I'm assuming the option packages are configured in a way to keep the ST's price low. I went with the ST2 package, as it had everything I wanted. The only thing I would want from the ST3 package would be the full leather recaros, but I couldn't justify the extra money to get them. And the ST2 package already put the car way over my price range.
That being said, I still think the ST2 package is the best value when you consider what is included. Those partial leather Recaros are sweet (and give you the option to add some color to the interior), you get a 10 speaker Sony audio system with XM and HD radio, 8 inch touch screen with MFT/SYNC, and dual zone climate controls for 2300 bucks.
I have a Boykin Spaniel that sheds pretty badly, but I'll just grab a $40 neoprene seat cover from Pet Smart. I hope you decide on the ST; it'll be a fun commuter!
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