Right now I’m suffering from a lack of Focus. See what I did there..with the play on…sorry. The 2014 RFD Focus ST has departed our garage. Arriving in April 2014, she proved to be a great long-term test car over the past 9 months. But there is only so much room and it’s making way for something new. More on that soon, stay tuned.
So how was it to live with a “FoST” as the kids are calling it? I commuted through the harsh DC streets through good times and bad. Good included warm temps with the moonroof open and the windows down, the sound of the 2.0 EcoBoost wailing from the centrally mounted dual exhaust. It included killing some cones and filming some feature video content. Look Ma, I’m on the TeeVee! Bad included potholes large enough to make SUVs weave around them, winter weather, and just a general malaise that fell over me in stop and go traffic with a manual transmission and tight bucket seats.
But it was more good than bad. From the beginning we found the ST to be a lot of fun. The fact that it was able to be compared to an E46 M3 and be competitive says a lot for the Ford Motor Company as well as how far cars have progressed over a decade.
As we stated during one of the long-term updates, the interior is markedly better than a normal Focus. Someone once told me “Oh I had one of those as a rental car once”. No, no you didn’t. Yours was the base model, low options, no 6spd or turbocharger. Oh right, back to the interior. It’s not a bad place to be, and I’d say that, just in commuting time I spent at least 360 hours in the FoST. The Recaro seats are spectacular, if a bit claustrophobic. I am 6’0, 190’ish and if you are much larger than that, I would consider the option list very carefully before ticking off the ST2 box. The rear seats are generous for such a small car. Someone said something about the Fiesta ST making the FoST redundant the other day, I totally disagree. If you want a more reasonably sized car, get the Focus. I can sit behind my own seating position and still have legroom. I reguarly had 3 kids, one in a large (Recaro) car seat back there in relative comfort. There were no injuries or serious arguments. I would comfortably say that 2 adults could sit back there just fine.
The SYNC system, the topic of much debate and discussion across automotive journalists, was pretty decent. Like a lot of cars, I swear most of the time the microphone couldn’t hear me. Or maybe Siri just sucks at understanding me because my texts were incomprehensible at times. It also spun for a bit connecting via bluetooth which is a bit of a #firstworldproblem but in the era we are in, tech needs to work and work quickly. I have been logging some time in the new long-term test vehicle and it works properly. Overall ipod and iphone integration wasn’t bad and the large touchscreen displayed everything well. Each quadrant focused on a different task, HVAC, audio, phone, and a compass/message center (or navigation if you choose).
When you get out of your car, do you look back over your shoulder at it? Do you find yourself studying its lines? If not, you chose the wrong car. Same can be said in relationships I suppose. Human ones that is. You need to have a connection, you need to like looking at it. I think that was mostly true with the ST. The angry lines, gaping grill, and round rear make for a nice looking car. It looks special, that’s the best way I can describe it. It’s not quite as boy-racer as some hatchback models where, particularly with the “special” model, they sometimes go overboard with scoops, vents, spoilers, etc.
I will say that, at 38 years old, I am
likely older than the typical ST demographic. A fact that I verified on message boards, Facebook groups, and generally just looking over at other FoST drivers. Not a big deal, but your car says something about your age and general place in society, like it or not.
What would I have changed? Probably the paint color, I feel like silver adds a bit of “dull” to this car unfortunately. The wheels are interesting from a design standpoint, but they are a bitch to clean and this thing racks up a lot of brake dust. I probably would have painted them black to add a bit of drama.
Like any performance-oriented model, its not a smooth riding car. The aforementioned potholes made for a winter slalom course through the nations capital so I didn’t lose a wheel and/or tire. Add in the “summer only” tires and it was a handful in the snow. Like, don’t even consider driving it, handful. I spent 2 hours trying to get into DC during the first snowfall, including several embarrassing attempts to get up very slight inclines along the way. I decided to turn around go home when Waze said I still had an hour to go.
But this is about driving fun, and it has it in spades. As I described post-autocross, and on video, it handles ridiculously well. Understeer wasn’t nearly as bad as some FWD cars I have owned before. It just sticks and goes where you point it, even inducing some oversteer when you lift off the throttle in the right spot. I didn’t find an on/off ramp that it couldn’t handle at impressive speeds. The steering is great at speed, and obviously geared for enthusiastic driving. It’s so hoon-centric in fact that it will barely allow you to do a u-turn in a space most cars can easily perform one. Almost like it’s daring you to use the e-brake to help you around. Seriously, I made more 3-point turns in this car than my last few combined. Regardless of that quibble, if you are looking for a great point and shoot car, this is one of the best. Just leave some extra room to turn around.
Economy? Not really. Whatever the MPG estimates are, I fell very short of them. I’m guessing it was somewhere in the low 20MPG range (similar to the last Mustang GT I had). And the fuel tank is tiny, which sucks for range but makes for a great story at the pump, my last fill up was $25 with the gas light on.
It’s not a perfect car, but for the low to mid $20K range, few are. But I don’t know much else on the new car market at this price point that can do what the Focus ST can do. It’s quick, fun to drive, has a lot of room inside for people, and hatchback practicality. So do yourself a favor and go look at one, it’s worth a test drive. New ones are seeing great discounts, like under $20K. Or just wait for the new Focus RS, which is sure to be even better. Regardless, the current Focus ST is a lot of car for the cash and we’ll miss it.
Take a look at our Focus ST on Wheel Well.