2013 Ford Focus ST: Built for the Back Roads
November 15, 2012
I really like commuting to work in our 2013 Ford Focus ST. Great ride quality. Readily accessible torque for catching the holes in traffic. Easy clutch takeup. Problem is, I realized I was looking at the car as though it was nothing more than a really nice Focus with a little more power... it' just that easy to live with every day.
But I know it' more than a commuter car. Mark Takahashi told me. So earlier this week, I went out on a familiar back road to see for myself. And, man, is it ever a fun car.
It' like the 2013 Focus ST was made just for these roads -- East Fork, Glendora Mountain and surrounds. They have lots of tight turns, and the ST' willingness to change attitude in the middle of a corner, or wherever, combined with its big, useful wad of mid-range torque makes it absolutely addictive. I like the steering, too.
As this was my first back-roads adventure in the car, I left the stability control in Sport (having heard that it' a very good system) and kept up a respectable pace without once feeling like the system was dropping anchor. Mind you, the brakes were pretty smelly when I got to the bottom of the mountain... and since I wasn't on the middle pedal that hard, I can only guess that the electronic differential administered enough individual wheel braking to heat up the brakes. Next time I'll have to shut the ESC off completely to see if that makes a difference.
Another thing I noticed is that as deftly as the Focus ST tucks into turns, its suspension calibration feels softer, less aggressive than the setup on our old 2010 Mazdaspeed 3. Yet, on these public roads, with traffic, I'm guessing I was keeping the same pace. Plus, the Ford has a better ride quality on pretty much any type of pavement.
Finally, shifting. I didn't need to do a lot of shifting, but I really enjoyed the occasional 4-3 or 3-2 downshift. If you have average size feet (about a men' size 9.5), you'll find the pedals are set up ideally for heel-and-toe downshifting. And if you haven't yet mastered that art, a Focus ST would be a great car to learn on.
Erin Riches, Senior Editor