Quiet on the Highway - 2013 Ford Focus ST Long-Term Road Test

2013 Ford Focus ST Long-Term Road Test

2013 Ford Focus ST: Quiet on the Highway

July 4, 2013

2013 Ford Focus ST

I hadn't been near our long-term 2013 Ford Focus ST in a couple months, and I was reminded how good this car is when I drove it this week.

It's quick enough to be exciting during routine passing maneuvers. And it likes to change direction quickly whether you're on some cool road or just pulling into the grocery store parking lot. Plus, the Recaro seats, while not comfortable for everyone, fit me to a T. If you're 5-foot-10 and in the neighborhood of 150 pounds, you will probably dig the driver seat in our Focus ST.

One thing that stood out this time is how quiet Ford's hot hatchback is on the highway.

2013 Ford Focus ST

I don't expect a car like this to be quiet. The GTI is pretty serene, granted, but Mazdaspeed 3 sure wasn't, nor are the Toyobarus.

Twice this week, I forgot to upshift to 6th gear while driving the Focus ST home from work on wide-open freeway (read: no traffic). The turbocharged 2.0-liter engine doesn't drone on or whine or make any kind of noise really unless you're hard on the throttle. I probably would have made the whole trip in 5th gear if I hadn't glanced down at the shifter.

The reality, of course, is that the gear ratios are pretty close together, and the difference in engine speed is minimal. At 70 mph, the engine is at 3,200 rpm in 5th gear and 2,700 in the 6th. Either way, the decibel level is comfortably low.

Erin Riches, Deputy Editor


  • greenpony greenpony Posts:

    That 6th gear cruising rpm seems awfully high for such a torque-capable motor. My V8 Mustang made similar hp/tq stats back in the day, and loped along at 2,000 rpm at 70. 2,700? That's not much lower than the 2,900 rpm I see in my anemic '07 Focus. I'm sure the engineers know what they're doing, but I would think they could easily drop that top gear ratio for better fuel economy.

  • stovt001_ stovt001_ Posts:

    My Miata is approaching 40K in top gear at 70mph, so 2700 sounds lovely. Top gear is just 5th in the Miata though. I really want this car. Check that - I want a job that would allow me to afford this car.

  • azrcd azrcd Posts:

    I'm continually confused by the reviews that state how quiet this car is. I own one and I think the road noise and wind noise are both quite loud. Now it's a sub $30k performance oriented car so I don't think the levels are unacceptable, but I sure wouldn't call it quiet. Unless you referring solely to the exhaust in which case add a, "too."

  • mlavoie mlavoie Posts:

    Azrcd, it depends to what you compare it, it IS pretty damn quiet compared to every other performance oriented car in that bracket except the GTI that is a notch better.

  • socal_eric socal_eric Posts:

    The road noise isn’t too bad even with the stock summer tires (at least when they’re still fairly new), wind noise for the class is pretty good, and there isn’t much engine or mechanical noise other than the induction sound let in by the sound symposer. Speaking of which, if you disconnect it where the active butterfly valve stays shut the ST is extremely quiet, to the point of being a bit antiseptic and taking a ton of character away from the car. If anything, for a sporting model it would be nice to have at least a touch more exhaust rasp but much of the NVH (noise, vibration, harshness) controls inherent to all Focus models it’s kind of hard to engineer in the “good” noises while keeping everything else out.

  • christople christople Posts:

    Do you guys have sound decibel meters? I would love to get the stats of real world db ratings when you guys drive them. Idle, 70mph, 40mph etc...

  • wdrauch wdrauch Posts:

    My two cents after six months with my ST3, it is much quieter than my A3 was. When cruising on the freeway, the engine is hardly audible. I've even mistakenly left it in 5th gear, just like the poster mentions hear. Tire noise on all surfaces increased when I switched over from my winter 16" combo to the stock 18" summer combo. However, even with the 18" summer combo I would call it quieter than I expected for this class of vehicle. Road surface does make a big difference. It's very quiet on asphalt, but significantly louder, although acceptable on concrete. Wind noise at freeway speeds is hardly perceptible.

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