I will preface this article with this: I am in love with my Focus ST. It is one hell of a hatch, and it’s the perfect daily-if I do say so myself. But like all great things, it is not without its flaws and in the 6000 miles I’ve driven the car, I’ve come to discover a number of things Ford could have done a better job with. This’ll be a slightly different article than the ones I’ve written before, but please let me know via the comment section below if you enjoyed or hated the article, all feedback is greatly appreciated!
- The three pedals: I regret to inform all of you that, of all the cars I’ve ever driven, the ST’s pedal configuration is one of the worst. I’ve experienced non-linear clutch pedals before; but the clutch in the ST is quite temperamental. The clutch feel is extremely springy; as you start to let go of the clutch pedal, you’ll find that the first third is criminally unresponsive, and then right near the bite point it starts to push back with the force of a thousand Black Rhinos (Side note, all Black Rhinos are now extinct… Didn’t mean to ruin your day, sorry). It’s all great until I get stuck in stop-and-go traffic on the highway. I end up having to do a weirdly choreographed ballet routine with my feet just to keep the car moving along. To mitigate this issue, Ford has integrated a rev-matching system so that the car automatically revs up when you let the clutch pedal out but it’s not quite the same when you’ve already got carpal tunnel in your left ankle. The issues with the pedals don’t stop there either. In a performance vehicle, especially a Hot Hatch such as the ST, it’s all about the fun you would have going around b-roads and blasting through tight corners. With this one, though it is doable under extremely hard braking, heel-toeing is quasi-impossible, forcing me to brake a lot earlier and downshift preemptively which cost me valuable seconds during track days.
- I absolutely adore these Recaro bucket seats that came with the ST3 package on the ST. They hold both the driver and the front-seat-passenger in place and at no point in the ownership experience did I think, ‘Man, I wish I had better racing seats’. This is going to sound a bit pretentious and perhaps idiotic even, but this is my daily after all, and I’ve dislocated five spinal chords already from hitting the smallest of imperfections in the road. And a pro tip: DO NOT attempt to sleep in your car, especially in either of the front seats. Your back WILL be stiffer than an elephant carcass after it’s been lying in the sun for two weeks. In fact, it might even be more comfortable to sleep on top of a bed of nails on a bare concrete floor while having a whale dropped on top of you. Never again.
- The interior design of the ST is a hit or miss for most people. Some love it, but some hate it due to the sound controls being mounted in a rather peculiar fashion above the gear selector. Personally, I find it quite quirky and I’m definitely a fan. What I am not a fan of though, is the material quality of the whole deal. When it was brand new, all the trim pieces were nice and shiny (Duh) but over time the glossy-bit of black plastic has accumulated a gross plethora of scuffs, fingerprints, and stains I have no good way of describing other than what looks to be a colony of tiny dead bugs. I have been doing what I can to keep the car as clean as it can possibly be, but there is no way of keeping the center console area spotless. Most people wouldn’t think too much of it, but I’m paranoid and it bothers me a great deal every time I look down to change the volume or to fast forward through a song. That just about explains why I always keep a can of glass cleaner and a microfiber towel in my car at all times. Not only that, but the windshield; or rather, the gauge cluster, the infotainment screen, and the main instrument cluster creates all sorts of humps and bulges all across the dashboard, and that made the job of mounting my radar detector and my phone holder extremely difficult. I had to try out seventeen million different configurations all over the cabin to find the place where I can still have the wires reach but not block my visibility or any of the gauges. Don’t even get me started on how difficult it is to clean the windshield–it is a painstaking job already and with everything protruding five inches from the dashboard makes the job even more grueling.
- The exterior paint quality is abysmal. Yes, over the last 6000 miles, I have covered a variety of terrains in my ST including but not limited to: tarmac, gravel, sand, and even some off-road trails up a mountain (or at least what the ST could manage). I’d installed mud flaps and side window deflectors to try and do my part in protecting the car’s exterior as best as I can. One thing I regret not doing though, is putting 3M over the car. There are way too many rock chips and scuff marks in the paint already, even though the car has not yet run 10k miles. Don’t get me wrong, where there still is paint, looks great. But, come on Ford, you could have done a better job ensuring paint durability. I know its no tri-coat but I would like to be able to drive my car without constantly being worried about whether not the paint is going to stay on the car during a 30 minute drive up to the mountain.
- At 6000 miles, I don’t feel like I should be concerned about the durability of the car at all. Quite frankly, I was hoping to get at least 100k miles before I consider getting a new daily. However, occasionally after cold start in the morning, I hear a low frequency rubbing sound from the steering column under pressure. It usually only lasts a few seconds before it goes away, but since I noticed it, I cannot un-hear it. Maybe it was there the entire time I’ve had the ST and I just never realized until recently. I doubt it though; and it makes me a bit concerned about its longevity once warranty runs out. That isn’t the only issue either, the right wiper blade keeps chirping no matter how many times I get the wiper blades replaced, and the clutch pedal will sometimes feel like it is a bit stickier than normal. Thank god the car is still under warranty because otherwise I would hate to take the car in for the first service and have the bill be in the four figures.
- Torque-steer is undeniably present in the ST. I constantly try–while I’m driving and while I’m talking about the ST–to defend the ST’s steering feel as best as I can, but I can’t hide the fact that there certainly is a second steering input other than myself. After seeing a youtuber (whose name I cannot remember) try a straight line pull in the latest Honda Civic type R with no hands on the steering wheel, I thought I’d give it a go. ‘The Type R kept a straight line, I’m sure the ST can too’, or so I thought. I was proven wrong very shortly after. Under hard acceleration, especially in second gear, the steering wheel pulls to the right an alarming amount. Of course it’s nothing fatal, but once the turbo spools up, 272 lb/ft of torque to the front wheels alone is undoubtedly a bit too much for the torque vectoring differential to even out. I have to say, sometimes it is nice knowing that I have an abundance of power especially in this fun little car. I need an Limited Slip Differential though, and I know now better than ever. And speaking of a lot of power, there is a significant amount of wheel hop during launch sequences. Given that it usually happens when I rev the car up too high (the car launches best right around 3100 rpms), I wonder how much faster the ST could accelerate if I can eliminate wheel hop on the top end of first gear. According to Gjeebs on YouTube, getting a new subframe mount can help the car cope with it, so I guess there goes another $300.
- Last but not least, I know this may sound a bit like a first-world problem, but the center LCD screen does not have enough features for a performance-enhanced vehicle. I was unpleasantly surprised when I first started messing around with the ST as I knew what most performance vehicles from Ford has implemented in their LCD screens. Even models from the past few years, the likes of the Focus RS and the Mustang, came with enough timers and G-force meters to keep the driver entertained for hours. So naturally, the ST was a bit of a let down considering the only features found in the center LCD screen are those found in any other trim level of the Focus: Trip 1, Trip 2, vehicle information, and settings. How difficult would it have been for Ford to integrate some of the performance features? They have the technology available already, I feel a bit ripped off is all.
For anyone who has not yet checked out my in-depth ownership review of the Focus ST, I would highly recommend you do that at the link at the bottom! I understand that this article may have made it sound like I absolutely hate everything about the ST, but I promise you it really is the perfect daily. And stay up to date with The Road Tripp as I take Staci on a journey to improve the overall ride and little things here and there to be the best she can be!
Original 4500 mile ownership review link