On Wednesday October 17, 2012 I had an chance to test drive the all new Focus ST on behalf of FocusFanatics.com. Here's how my day with the 2013 Ford Focus ST went:
My day started with a two hour journey north to Ann Arbor, Michigan. Upon my arrival to the hotel parking lot, I noticed a row of nine very colorful Focus ST's, ranging from Race Red, Tangerine Scream & Performance Blue. I took this rare scene in for a minute & decided to snap a few pictures. My first impression was: "Wow, pretty stylish!" I was quickly greeted by Ford Representatives and they took me inside the hotel for a quick lunch & overview of the all new 2013 Focus ST. The room was filled with about 8 people from all sorts of media outlets, such as Fast Fords Magazine. Being 29, I felt a little awkward being the youngest out of the bunch, but that didn't stop anyone from being friendly and asking all kinds of questions.
As a First Generation Focus owner, I was filled with loads of questions for the Ford Engineers. Such as build quality, reliability, and improvements through the years. I was directed to Eddie Kahn, who has been with the SVT Development Team for 10 years. He listened to my first generation Focus story and we started up a casual 'Car Guy' conversation. After about 20 minutes of conversation, he excused himself to begin the presentation of the 2013 Focus ST. The presentation included several engineers coming up to discuss ST's characteristics and their role in developing the car. Including the center exit exhaust to the sound symposer, this takes specific noise from inside the engine bay and broadcasts that noise into the cabin. After the brief presentation, we were told to buddy up and pick a car. This being my first Ford Media Event, I didn't know what to do, so I just went outside to the row of ST's and made my pick of the ST that I was going to drive. I sat in a Performance Blue ST 2 with Satellite Navigation. The Recaro Seats are wonderful! They were very comfortable, supporting as well as stylish. The next thing I noticed was the steering wheel. At ten and two, the grips were soft almost cushion like. They weren't so soft that your hands would crush the steering wheel, but they were softer than your normal steering wheel. It was very comfortable steering wheel, if that makes sense. But don't let the wonderful Recaro seats and steering wheel fool you, this car means business. You'll notice a center gauge console on the dash that has your Oil & Water Temperatures, and a Boost Gauge, or as I would like to call the 'Fun Gauge'. It has a sporty 6 speed shifter with traction control that has 3 settings, Normal, Sport & Off.
By this time, a co-driver was found for me. I took the driver's seat for the stent as Ford had a pre-planned route for us to take. I started up the car and after the initial start up, I couldn't hear the engine. It was very quiet and if it wasn't for the tachometer & satellite navigation screen, I wouldn't have known the car was running. We left the parking with specific instructions from the Ford Representatives to 'have fun' and boy did we!
Once we left the restraints of the city, we were let loose onto the country side. I dropped to 2nd gear and could hear the sound symposer playing that sweet engine noise and felt my body sinking back into the comfortable Recaro seats. This thing handles like a dream around corners. Wherever I wanted to be in the corner, it went, with plenty of power coming out of the turn. The 18 inch wheels hugged the road with little to no screaming, or at least I did not notice as I was having way too much fun. Taking twisties after twisties, I lost track of time. With my co-pilot guiding me, I made it to the driver switch point. I felt sad that my time behind the driver's seat was over, but now I could take some time notice the other features about this particular Focus ST. The interior felt very sound and put together. I couldn't hear the wind noise or any creeks or any other noise besides the symposer when my co-pilot laid into the fun pedal. I would hear the occasional bump noises from the suspension when we went over rocks and road debris. You could definitely feel the bumps in the car when you went over something that wasn't supposed to be in the road. My co-pilot had the privilege of taking the ST out onto the highway. We both noticed how easy it was to be in any gear and accelerate without too much turbo lag, even in 6th gear. While cruising at highway speeds, the Ford Focus ST was quite nimble in midday Ann Arbor, Michigan. The car was very quiet at cruising, not even a throaty mumble.
After the brief highway cruise, it was back to the hotel to rejoin the rest of the ST group at the hotel. My co-pilot and I found Seema a Ford engineer who was eager to address any questions we had. Since I was a complete novice to this, I let Brad do most of the asking. He seemed to be very interested in the market niche that the Focus ST was aiming towards. Seema was very patient and answered every question to the best of her knowledge. I just laid back and listened for the most part. I was mainly in awe of much thought and strategic planning went into this vehicle. The demographic, the styling, and even the little touches like the sound symposer all were strategically implemented onto the car.
This car would definitely be one I would consider buying for a fun, yet semi-fuel effect car. Considering the other two vehicles in its class, the Volkswagen GTi & the Mazdaspeed 3, it comes down to what you do in your daily life. If you do a lot of hauling, then the Speed 3 is for you as it has a lot more storage capacity, but doesn't get as good fuel economy, and is quite thirsty when you lay into the fun pedal a lot. The GTi has the interior styling & ease of use for the interior controls. If you want a fun daily driver that also gets decent fuel economy, the Focus ST is for you!
I would like to thank the representatives from Ford
for putting on this event and Focus Fanatics
for letting me represent our awesome community. I've never been to one of these events before and Ford made the process seamless & laid back. If you guys ever need another tester/reviewer, feel free to call me anytime!