Angles and Edges - 2013 Ford Focus ST Long-Term Road Test
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2013 Ford Focus ST Long Term Road Test

2013 Ford Focus ST: Angles and Edges

February 8, 2013

2013 Ford Focus ST

There's a hip-hop producer named Madlib. He deals in a heavily jazz-influenced sound, big beats with lots of swing. He put out a CD about 10 years ago called "Angles Without Edges," and I keep thinking of the title, not necessarily the music, when I drive the ST. Because the ST seems opposite the title: the ST is ALL angles and edges.

This is, of course, the case with most new Ford dashes and instrument panels. Ford is pursuing a high-tech machine-matrix Transformers motif, following its conviction that touchscreen/voice-activation everything is the future. Which it may well be, but if the future looks like present My Ford Touch, we're doomed (example: MFT crapped on me on my way out of the garage the other night. Eventually I pulled over, shut down, got out, did the reboot. Nothing. Even did it twice. Nothing. No audio, no Sync voice, no volume, nothing. Drove home listening to the 2.0-liter and some Pandora streaming from the phone speaker. Next morning, there was music and Sync Lady and voice activation, as if nothing had ever happened between us. But the trust in our relationship has soured).

Staring at the dash and IP, I wonder who Ford targets with the Focus ST. Ours wasn't cheap. Though it starts at around $25,000, our ST with the Recaros and other options brought it just over $29,000. That's not necessarily young sport compact enthusiast money. Sure, you don't have to option it, but even $25k is a leap for most young car buyers. Which leaves buyers in their late 20s and early 30s, ready to buy their first car, a useful sports car, no less.

That makes more sense, but it makes me wonder how many young professionals will pay between 25 and 30 grand for the ST when they could have a two-year old BMW 335i for the same scratch. "But not everyone wants a BMW," you say. True. But the folks who don't read the magazines or fine Web sites like ours go with the BMW, Audi or Lexus every time.

Perhaps the ST is one of those niche models like the GT-R. The ones who get it really get it. They might evangelize a little bit, but most of their buddies will buy a 911 before a GT-R. If you're a fella on the prowl, setting down a Nissan key fob on the bar doesn't carry quite the same weight as one bearing the Porsche shield.

I doubt Ford loses sleep over this. Only sad car bloggers puzzle over these questions. The Focus is Ford's best-selling car right now in both the U.S. and the global village, the ST's halo effect no doubt helping the cause here at home.

Dan Frio, Automotive Editor @ 6,450 miles


Comments

  • I just picked up my ST special order last night. I'm 40. For me it's the perfect SF to South Bay kid friendly commuter car.

  • noburgers_ noburgers_ Posts:

    So far, I've been impressed by both Edmund's and other critics' opinion of the car. This, or a WRX would have been my ride if I were in my 20's today. Cudos to you @superenchilada for pulling it off at 40. And I mean that sincerely. Wish it were me, but wife is dead set against small cars.

  • homer281 homer281 Posts:

    I would say for the average 30-something who ends up with a base-model luxury (BMW/Audi/Lexus), it's not the sharp angles and lines or the MFT that drives them away, it's the 6-speed manual only. A good chunk of them just want a car with a fancy badge, some leather trim, and a lazy automatic so they can show their friends they've "made it." I know i'm in the tiny minority as a 29-year-old male who DDs a 2010 Miata... but I can't stop thinking about picking up the bright-yellow Focus ST as a Daily Driver and move the Miata to weekend/autox duty. It's level of relative perceived maturity doesn't bother me too much, it's just so much fun to drive. If the maturity thing did bother me, I'd probably lean towards a GTI.

  • homer281 homer281 Posts:

    I would say for the average 30-something who ends up with a base-model luxury (BMW/Audi/Lexus), it's not the sharp angles and lines or the MFT that drives them away, it's the 6-speed manual only. A good chunk of them just want a car with a fancy badge, some leather trim, and a lazy automatic so they can show their friends they've "made it." I know i'm in the tiny minority as a 29-year-old male who DDs a 2010 Miata... but I can't stop thinking about picking up the bright-yellow Focus ST as a Daily Driver and move the Miata to weekend/autox duty. It's level of relative perceived maturity doesn't bother me too much, it's just so much fun to drive. If the maturity thing did bother me, I'd probably lean towards a GTI.

  • Isnt the market for this car already defined? Who buys wrx's and ms3's and gti's? Thats the market right there, isnt it?

  • lilwagon lilwagon Posts:

    I'm not sure how you guys negotiated your pricing, but no one should be paying close to 29k for an ST2 trim ST. Before taxes, I paid 27.5k for the ST3 trim (HIDs, Full Leather, Heated Seats/mirrrors, rear cup holder) When comparably equipped, the ST is the second least expensive hot hatch available in the US. MS3 being the cheapest while the WRX and GTI cost a little bit more.

  • Im going to be 32 in June, my current lease is up in May. I am looking to purchase this time. My last two leases have been 6 speed TSX's ('07, '10). I really like everything about this car except the perceived maturity of the car. I am pretty much between an ST2, Accord Sport, or new Mazda6 Touring, dont want to spend more than 25k. I am thinking an Focus ST in silver or black would help me out. Everything I have read about this car says it is legit.

  • mystykracer mystykracer Posts:

    Sooo, was there a review in there anywhere on anything other than the MFT shooting craps one particular day? While that is annoying the bugs in MFT are well documented. How about telling us if this car had the most recent MFT firmware update and if that changed anything for the better or worse? Also how about giving some driving impressions after almost 6500 miles w/ the car, i.e. maintenance concerns? Observed fuel economy? Comfort, handling, interior noises & rattles after initial break in period? Passenger impressions? Daily commute impressions ( how is the car to live w/ a on a daily basis in the real world )? Also, this constant drone about whether the Focus ST is a bit too "boy racer" is getting a bit tiresome. How about getting the car in a more grown up color other than that nuclear banana paint scheme and see if the initial impression changes. My guess is not having to deal w/ that "LOOK AT ME!!!" color every time you approach the vehicle might lower the heart rate just a tic. Personally I happen to think the silver, black and blue colors are quite handsome on this car and that's speaking as a potential buyer in my mid-40's As a potential buyer of this car later this year, the above is what I need info about in long term tests not whether someone in their late twenties is cross shopping the ST against two year old Beamer or 10 year old 911. I need real world analysis please!

  • yaymx5_ yaymx5_ Posts:

    @superenchilada I used to commute from Berkeley to the south bay in a Miata. Thank god I don't do that anymore. Not because I mind the communing, but because despise boring old Santa Clara so damn much.

  • emajor emajor Posts:

    If there is a market for a GTI, GLI, and Mazdaspeed 3, there is a market for this Focus. No one is forcing you to option it to $30K; anyone not planning on racing the thing probably won't miss the Recaros. The interior looks overly complicated and daunting in photographs, but once behind the wheel it feels less frenetic.

  • emajor emajor Posts:

    Ford really needs to make sure My Ford Touch is reliable. A family member who is a lifetime Toyota customer just switched to a new Ford, and the quickest way to make her go back is for the audio system to glitch out as Dan describes above.

  • fordson1 fordson1 Posts:

    One sure way to display immaturity is to be wondering in print or out loud what your choice of car says about your maturity level. Thinking that everyone is looking at you and yours, and analyzing it all is juvenile. People don't care - they have their own gigs going on. Also, when buying a car, why worry about what kind of car your wife likes? She can drive whatever she wants. And can we please stop pretending that $29k is a lot of money for a car - ? "Which leaves buyers in their late 20s and early 30s, ready to buy their first car, a useful sports car, no less." This is so wrongheaded - most people in that age range are not buying their first car! And their first car was not $29k. You ST owners who are commenting - is this your first car? Well, of course not.

  • flybigrc flybigrc Posts:

    Update by ST Owner at 5000 Miles I thought I would provide a real review on the ST. This last installment was pretty weak. The 30 something statement was just silly. I am in my 40s, own a 04 corvette and a 68 corvette and traded in my Saturn Vue for the Focus ST as my daily driver because its a fun car to drive. MFT. My ST came with the 3.2.1 version and I never had any real problems other than the delay in responding to a voice command and the fact that an iPhone texting is not compatible with Sync text feature. I recently upgraded to MFT 3.5.1 and if you have the Nav you have to request a new Nav SD card V4. The install took 60 minutes and the car has to be running suring the entire install. No issues with the install and I have noticed that the voice commands delays have decreased. Mileage: Getting 27 MPG combined with 80% highway with the sweet spot speed being around 72 MPH. Go any faster and the mileage drops. Also, if you put in 87 octane which is approved per the manual, no real lose in MPG.

  • duck87 duck87 Posts:

    Have you ever thought that maybe people who buy Porsches don't always do it because of the badge, but because of the way they drive? I don't think a GT-R is any more of a "smart" buy than the comparable 911, and the alleged household income of the average GT-R buyer isn't vastly different from Porsche's either. The image obsessiveness is pretty disappointing, truly.

  • gloss gloss Posts:

    Really couldn't stand the interior on the ST when I gave it a shot at a recent auto show. The enormous center stack intrudes on knee space, the seating position feels too upright, and the MFT system dominates the visual space. Too cluttered, too trendy. It'll look dated as hell in five years. The FR-S/BRZ, on the other hand, felt like putting on a glove. Despite all the legitimate reasons to choose an ST over the Toyobaru, just spending 30 seconds in the cockpit was all it took to make up my mind.

  • orbhot orbhot Posts:

    As I'm sure you found when shopping on the ST, its nearest competitors cost as much (MazdaSpeed3) or more (GTI, et al.). I certainly agree with the MFT gripe though. I've had several crashes, which an update didn't fix. Ford really should have chose to work with Apple or a company with deep Android OS experience, rather than crash-prone Microsoft. It almost makes me wish I'd bought a Mini Countryman S with the Mini connected option that only works with iPhone. My iPhone 4, BTW, has never crashed once.

  • frankenbike frankenbike Posts:

    As far as maturity goes...maybe 30 year olds are still trying to look "mature". But I've met a lot of people in their 40s and 50s (I'm in the latter group) who ARE mature, and like a little immaturity in their life (also a big group of ST people are former muscle car owners looking for something a little more practical, with horsepower more in tune with the way they drive every day). It seems like I'm the only person on Earth who has no problem with MFT. It works every day, syncs with my Galaxy Nexus when I get in the car, plays the music on my USB stick, Pandora and Sirius. The only thing I don't like is the Nav entry, but I usually find my destination on Google Maps and send it to the car with an app called "Sync my Car". I also love the big screen for Nav. Sometimes I'm not using it for actual Nav, but I glance over to see when an interesting looking road is coming up. I wouldn't mind it being a bit faster and more responsive, and I wouldn't mind if voice command worked as well as it does on my Android phone. But these aren't dashed expectations like it seems to be to everyone else. In the six months I've had the car, it has crashed on me once, and that problem was fixed with the 3.5.2 update. Maybe it just works better with Android phones than iPhones.

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