Since Ellie decided to start spraying coolant all over the engine bay, I had been looking around to see what car I should get next. I had considered big, muscular, full-size SUVs, small two door sports cars, and even those boring, “practical” SUVs that you see everyone driving around in nowadays, and everything in between. What really caught my eyes though, were hot hatches.
Out of all the cars I went and test drove with the excuse of “market research”, the hot hatch genre seemed to tick the most boxes in my “requirements” list. As a guy who wanted a car with enough room to go out into the wild with enough camping gear for a week’s trip, while also being capable enough to attack b-roads over weekends, Hot Hatches really were the best choice. Out of all the Hot Hatches I could have gone with, as you can probably tell by this point of this article, I ended up going with the Focus ST. In this article, I’ll give you a quick comparison of the Focus ST and its closest competitor, Golf GTi; Show you what my ownership experience thus far has taught me; And what I have in store for this one so you can keep up with my progress!
Before I got to test drive the Focus ST, I actually drove a 2016 Golf GTi and a Hyundai i30N in order to see which one of the Hot hatches I wanted to get. In my opinion though, the Hyundai felt a little too cheap for the price point so I ended up not giving it too much attention. The GTi on the other hand, was a serious contender. Though the GTi’s inline 4 is down on figures compared to the ST, the driving dynamics were certainly up to par with the best of its class. Though I can’t say how it felt compared to the A45 AMG as I have not yet driven that one, when compared to the ST it certainly gave me a tough decision. The biggest difference between these two would be the LSD (Limited Slip Differential), or the lack thereof. Don’t get me wrong, the Focus ST is an absolute blast to chuck into corners and feel it grip like its almost on rails, but there is no denying that there definitely is a hint of understeer going in and coming out of corners if I were to be a bit overzealous. The GTi on the other hand, I had to remind myself at the end of my test drive that it is a Front Wheel Drive because of the complete lack of understeer and how well composed it felt through corners. For those of you who have yet to drive a GTi, its how you desperately want every FWD car to handle. The torque-vectoring-differential in the ST is great, but the LSD in the GTi just left me speechless. The differential combined with the German Engineering almost won me over completely, but thats when I got to drive the Focus ST.
From a turbo-charged 2.0L I-4, the engine is good for 252 horsepower and 272 lb/ft of torque at 2500 rpm. Which, for a car that doesn’t even weigh 3250 pounds, that’s enough to get her from 0-60 in 6.3 seconds. Pair that with the 6MT which is the only transmission available for the ST, and that’s the perfect recipe for a good time. Though it may not be as fast on a track compared to, say, a Subaru WRX Sti, it certainly is a hell of a lot more fun to drive-and that’s thanks to the loose rear end. By “loose rear end”, I mean that Ford has loosened up the rear suspension ever-so-slightly compared to the front which results in a hint of liftoff oversteer coming out of tight corners that’ll make a grown man smile like a 4 year old with his first hot wheels set.
Since May, I have so far put on 4500 miles on the ST; covering city roads, mountain roads, autocross weekends, and even coastal roads. As far as I can say, there isn’t a better all around car that would have done all of this better. However, like all cars, the ST isn’t without its downfalls. The main pain-in-the-ass that I want to mention is, well, the pain in the ass.
Don’t get me wrong, I am absolutely in love with those Recaro racing bucket seats that came with the ST3 package. They are undeniably amazing at hugging you at all the right places, especially with the side bolsters holding you in the prime steering position. The issue is when I decide to go on a journey thats any longer than my normal commute to work. As with all bucket seats, it is not so much designed for comfort-and if I was a decade older driving this car, I would have gotten hemorrhoids by now. At the end of a three hour journey down to the racetrack, I thought my rear-end had decided to ditch me and I was sitting on my tail bones for the last hour. And not that many people will experience this, but in case you decide to take a nap in the driver’s seat-you REALLY shouldn’t-you’ll wake up with more pain than what you would experience the day after your inner-cavity exam, if you know what I mean. Nonetheless, I am in love with those bucket seats so I won’t complain too much.
The next worst thing I’ve found, is the size of the car. Now, take this one with a grain of salt as I am 6′ 2″ sitting in a small-ish hatchback, but even after 4500 miles of ownership, I still cannot find where the window switches are without having to look down at the door-at which point I would end up crashing into the back of a car traveling at the speed of a dying snail. From my arm’s normal resting position on the arm rest, I have to do some uncomfortable wrist-yoga, twisting and turning as if I was trying to reach in a Pringles can only to find out that my hand doesn’t fit. I can’t count the number of times when I accidentally rolled down a wrong window when all I was trying to do is get some fresh air to my face, involuntarily playing Russian roulette except instead of bullets I’m shooting cold 60 mph wind right in my passengers’ eyes.
With all the complaints out of the way though, I am seriously in love with the ST. The SYNC 3 system, which is the infotainment screen that comes with all the modern fords, is extremely user friendly with a lot of cool features-like customizable ambient lighting and the fantastically well implemented navigation system that you can pinch-to-zoom, to mention a few. And with the ST3 package, you get a heated steering wheel as well as heated front seats which is always a big plus, especially here in the Pacific Northwest. With that said, I will have to invest in some winter tires pretty soon since I went with the Eagle F1’s instead of the standard all season tires. And with the majority of the car review out of the way, this is what I have planned for the ST in the coming months.
With Ford Racing Division’s support, there is a plethora of options available in aftermarket parts, and of them all what stood out to me is the Ford’s performance calibration which is essentially a plug and play tune that can bump the torque of the ST by 90 lb/ft, from 272 to 362. THAT is a big number. Along with that, I already have ordered some AWE Performance Track Exhausts that will help her breathe and give her a bit more character, so stay tuned for my review on the exhaust as well. Pair all that with some new spark plugs and a new intake, I can’t wait to see how the ST will drive!
Thank you so much for visiting my website and more importantly checking out my car reviews, don’t forget to share my articles on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram and come by often as I will be posting two articles a week from now on! Please follow daily_ST18 for further updates on my ST, and I will write at you all again later this week!