May 8, 2013
This alert flashed upon startup of our long-term 2013 Ford Focus ST. It stayed lit for about five seconds (complete with handy progress meter beneath the image), so it was easy to see (but hard to fish out the camera in time).
May 6, 2013
A weekend in our 2013 Ford Focus ST reminded me of being a kid again. For a portion of my childhood there was a yellow Ford Pinto in our driveway.
May 1, 2013
A few days in our 2013 Ford Focus ST reminded me how few yellow cars are on the road. Aside from taxi cabs and one Gallardo, I did not see another yellow vehicle until this van parked next to me. The color doesn't work for everyone, but I love it. And it is great for marketing. Just ask this guy. You can't miss it.
April 25, 2013
This sporty little hatchback with the turbo four-cylinder has quickly become a favorite of our editorial staff. Driving the 2013 Focus ST is never boring. And the car is practical, too. It has handled all sizes and shapes of cargo in its handy hatchback.
April 10, 2013
Last night while perusing the DirecTV Guide, I came upon an episode of British motoring program Fifth Gear featuring a Tangerine Scream 2013 Ford Focus ST. Whatya know? That exact car just happened to be sitting a few floors below in my garage.
Beyond being incredibly jealous that the pointily sideburned presenter got to drive the Focus ST on a spectacular strip of Norwegian road, I took note of his principal beef with the car: the body style.
April 9, 2013
Our Ford Focus ST includes keyless ignition/entry (a.k.a. Intelligent Access with Push-Button Start), meaning you can unlock the doors and turn on the car while keeping the key in your pocket. Note the little black pad on the front door handle, which indicates where you press to lock the door. Also, note the lack of said pad on the rear door handle.
April 3, 2013
Edmunds recently began assigning letter grades to each and every vehicle it tests. Here's a link to the most recent batch of letter grades by vehicle segment. The 2013 Ford Focus ST, our very own long-term test vehicle, in fact, underwent the laborious process and emerged with an A. See the details here.
April 1, 2013
Before I drove away, this message popped up on our 2013 Ford Focus ST's display, "911 Assist is OFF. Set to ON? Yes/No."
Many new cars feature some sort of built-in telematics or concierge service that varies by manufacturer in what is provided, but most use an embedded cell phone and there's usually a subscription fee.
March 29, 2013
Okay, this really is thrashing an expired equine, because there's a nearly identical photo and post right here from a month ago. However, I fear that with each passing glitch and shrug of our collective shoulders, that Ford is getting a pass on the persistent problems inherent with SYNC and MyFordTouch. I get the feeling we're all just saying, "Yeah, that's part of the package. They all do that," and to me, that ain't right.
March 18, 2013
I typically try to avoid parallel parking our long-term cars (or any cars that aren't mine really), but in West Los Angeles it's unavoidable. The streets are crowded and if you plan on having guests, taking an available street-spot is always a good idea.
Editor Brent Romans already noted that our Ford Focus ST doesn't have a back-up camera, but the tires offered me a bit of parking assistance this weekend.
March 15, 2013
Running errands in our long-term Ford Focus ST this weekend, I parked across from a bright-yellow Chevrolet Cobalt SS. I immediately felt a sense of camaraderie.
It's nice to see another cheerful color amongst beige sedans and non-offensive silver SUVs. Yellow is a paint color that you don't really see on mini-vans or SUVs (unless they've been converted to taxi-cabs). Car companies seem to give small, fast automobiles a yellow paint job to designate them as high-performance and to help them stand out in a crowd. The paint however, wasn't the only thing these cars had in common.
March 13, 2013
After spending a weekend with the Focus ST, let's just say I've developed a certain fondness for its quick reflexes and eager powertrain. There's never a dull moment with this thing. I drove to the drug store to buy a birthday card for my niece and the journey was like time spent on an amusement park ride.
March 11, 2013
I've flip-flopped on our 2013 Ford Focus ST over the last few days. When I first took the Focus ST home, I hated it. My introduction to it was in rush hour traffic and I knew that was a bad place to evaluate it, but I couldn't help it. The gear changes felt abrupt, the clutch felt too firm and the bolsters on the Recaro seats hurt my shoulders. In stop-and-go traffic, I was asking myself why I ever thought this car could be any good.
The next day it changed my mind completely.
March 7, 2013
The blind spot mirrors on our 2013 Ford Focus ST are great. As a motorcycle rider who knows what it's like to have an SUV enter my lane unannounced (and out of bad habits), I like to check my blind spots by turning my head. On the Focus ST there are small blind-spot mirrors built into the upper outside corner of the side-view mirrors that give you a quite a bit more confidence the moment you step in to the car. They basically eliminate the desire to turn your head.
February 26, 2013
I can't help it. Every time I get in our long-term Focus ST and see the logo on the steering wheel, the first thing I think of is Subaru, not Ford. Call it good branding on Subaru's part or poor graphic design on Ford's part. But either way the similarity between the two logos is unmistakable.
February 25, 2013
This alert popped up in our long-term 2013 Ford Focus ST upon startup once over the weekend. Note: our car is not equipped with a rearview camera.
February 20, 2013
It's possible the Focus's fuel door is the most well integrated fuel door in the history of fuel doors. It complements the body lines and tail light placement and its gaps match those between the bumper and the rear quarter panel perfectly. In fact, looking at it the first time, I wasn't even certain it was a fuel door.
Nice work, Ford.
February 8, 2013
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).
January 29, 2013
Our 2013 Ford Focus is really cool and one of my favorite cars in the fleet right now. So when it comes down to negative impressions, it's really just nitpick stuff. But one thing I do wish the ST had was a rearview camera.
Because of its swooping beltline and smallish rear window, the Focus hatchback does not provide the driver the greatest of rearward visibility. It's not terrible in the sense of a mid-80s Italian supercar, mind you, but it can make backing out of driveways or parking spots a bit trickier than I'd expect for a small hatchback. A rearview camera would offer a little extra peace of mind, especially since I see the ST as a more practical, everyday use car than something like a Scion FR-S.
Curiously, Ford actually offers a rearview camera as standard equipment on the regular Focus Titanium model, and that's for both the sedan and hatchback. Yet a camera isn't available on the ST.
Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor @ 6,002 miles
December 26, 2012
One of the notable upgrades on the Focus ST model is this set of auxiliary gauges on the dash. You get oil pressure, boost pressure and oil temperature, gauges that are typically left off most new vehicles these days unless you go searching through a few menus.
It's understandable as these are gauges you must have in day-to-day driving, but on a performance car like this it's a different. Keeping an eye on your oil pressure and temperature is always a good habit if you're driving hard, especially in adverse conditions. Obviously, low oil pressure is a bad thing for any vehicle, but monitoring it daily on something that gets driven hard will keep you thinking about the oil's condition and give you an early heads up if anything is starting to turn south.
As far as the boost gauges go, it's just fun to watch.
Ed Hellwig, Editor @ 5,067 miles
December 20, 2012
Noticed that there is a bit more tire chunking in the aftermath of Kurt's autocross day with our 2013 Ford Focus ST than originally thought. If you look closely at this particular chunk, you can see the tire's steel and nylon carcass poking through. This tire is currently on the left rear, swapped from the front post-autocross.
Honestly, this isn't all that shocking. Autocrossing is very hard on tires, especially when said tires are unshaved and designed for the street.
Needless to say, we'll be ordering two new tires for the Focus ST ASAP.
Mike Monticello, Road Test Editor @ 5,066 miles
December 19, 2012
Lay into the throttle in our long-term 2013 Ford Focus ST and you'll get a couple of surprises. The first is that, holy schnikes, this thing moves out. But you already knew that.
December 18, 2012
We've quickly reached the 5000-mile mark in the new Focus ST (right on the nose, in fact), and it's been universally loved due to its capable handling, smooth and plentiful turbo power and fantastic seats.
It has excelled equally at commuting, back-road charging, and it's even been autocrossed.
So far, no gremlins to report.
On a personal note, I was tempted to take the Focus ST for a run on one of my favorite mountain roads over the weekend. But due to a rainy forecast and too many other chores on my plate, I skipped it. I realized what a mistake that was as, on Sunday afternoon, I entered a corner intentionally hot, trail braking, to see just what the Focus had in store for me. The rear stepped out more than expected, but it was perfect. Damn, the suspension on this thing is tuned just right.
Next time I get the Focus ST on the weekend, there will be a back-road flogging. I promise.
Mike Monticello, Road Test Editor @ 5,000 miles.
December 06, 2012
There' no such thing as a free lunch, food swiped from other department' meetings excepted, and with charging around an auto-x course for a whole day, we knew the Focus ST was going to suffer some tire wear.
What did twelve runs through the cones do to our ST' tires? Click on through...
Since the course was mainly right turning, the left front tire took more of the wear than the right front. Since I kept the pushy, understeery nonsense to a minimum, the tires look about as Mark and I expected. There' wear on the shoulder blocks, but nothing' excessive.
November 30, 2012
When I last left you, Mark and I had used up six of our allotted twelve runs of the day. Predictably, the Focus ST had seen off the stock-tired Scion. However, Mark was now changing over to the trick rubber and I was getting that sinking feeling.
While Mark fiddled, I looked over the Focus. I decided to leave the tires pressures what they were as the outside tread hadn't suffered too much and messing around with that now might do more harm than good. I wasn't going to be happy unless I got into the 62 second range; not just because I thought that would be enough to beat Mark, but I had my own goals. Oh, and don't forget about the audience of experienced auto-x'ers.
Then, Mark went out and dropped the hammer. His first lap out was better than my fastest and he was only getting faster. Time to see if I could pull it together.
My first lap out was my new best. Still lagging behind Mark, I had just knocked .5 seconds off my time by not driving like an meat head. So that was my plan - drive less like a meat head.
Over the next three runs, my times dropped, albeit slowly, into the low 63'. The ST is a little complex. It' essentially a front wheel drive muscle car, so the power must be used judiciously or you'll just spin the tires, which just overheats them. The trick differential is also a little bit of an unknown to me. It works well enough, it' just not as predictable as a mechanical unit. This is only a trait you'll see in a situation like an auto-x, with lots of quick directional changes and varying throttle inputs.
And then there' the rear end. The car pivots very, very well. It' not often you drive a front wheel drive car capable of being set up for the exit of the corner before you get to the corner, but the ST let' you do it. The catch, naturally, is it responds quite a bit to very minor changes in throttle at higher speeds. There was a big sweeper on the back side of the course that, on my fastest runs, I was essentially counter-steering the ST through half the corner.
Cool, but tricky.
I walked over to Mark to talk to him about his times and his passenger, and through his huge grin (damn) he introduced me to Leonard - the novice coordinator for this region of the SCCA and a reader of Edmunds. He asked if he could ride along and see what the ST was all about. Anything for
free instruction our readers.
The run was smooth, but a bit manic as I fought to keep the back end where I needed it. I was afraid I'd made him car sick after the run, but thankfully he was fine and graciously offered advice about slightly different lines to benefit corner exit and overall tire management. Oh, and the most obvious piece of advice - look up more and don't get lost.
Unlike Mark, with only two runs left I wasn't able to capitalize on Leonard' advice and had to settle for the fast time you see below you, a 62.860. 1.8 seconds quicker than what I'd done previously, it just wasn't enough to stave off those fancy tires (the tires that the Focus hauled down there, mind you) and Mark' driving.
November 29, 2012
At the end of every run, you pull up and grab your time slip. These are my first six.
Now, where Mark went out to explore the course, and his Prius tires, on his first few runs, I just jumped into it and started driving. But, as Mark steadily improved throughout his first six runs, making the best he could out of the stock tires on the last lap, I kinda didn't.
I started out faster. A lot faster. But instead of trying to learn the second half of the course, the part where I wasn't shagging cones, I decided to charge the first half and figured the second half would just fall into place. Nnnnnnope!
I've decided to be brave and post one of my early runs. Click on through.
November 27, 2012
I arrived about ten minutes after Mark and the FR-S. I signed a waiver at the gate and slotted the Focus ST right alongside the Scion. Stepping out of the ST and looking at the Scion made plain my biggest fear - The ST is a whole lot more car that our FR-S. It' a big piece of meat. At least it' yellow.
I tapped Mark on the shoulder and pointed out every single other FR-S in the lot. There were about 60-something cars in total and at least 6 or them were Scions. Mark wasn't going to have anywhere to hide if he couldn't lay down a good time. I took some solace in being the only ST, or any non Mustang Ford in the lot, but I wasn't going to know if my time was any good or not. Beating Mark is one thing, but I kinda wanted to see how I handled the ST.
And then came the attention.
The car is yellow, I know, but before I knew it I had already talked to three people about the ST. They walked over and expressed interests ranging from the fuel economy to the size of the trunk. I offered up the car for their inspection and while every one of them were polite and appreciative of the chance to crawl around the car, they all ended the conversation with words I didn't need to hear, "I'll keep my eye on this thing. I can't wait to see how it does!" Great. Now I have an audience.
There was more of that as I brought the car through tech. Other inspectors and drivers walked over and poked their heads under the hood and peered into the fender wells to get a better look at it. I felt like tossing the keys to an instructor and letting them demo the car for the day, not to save what' left of my name, but instead to preserve the mystique of the car.
November 22, 2012
It' no surprise that our long-term Focus ST has a special place in my heart. This Thanksgiving, I'm thankful that A: Ford made it; and B: we bought one. But there are plenty of other vehicles that I'm thankful for as we near the end of 2012.
1987 Buick Grand National: What a time machine this is. Seriously, just when I thought there weren't any "barn finds" left, this thing comes along. It may not be all that fast, but it definitely hits my cool list.
2012 Jaguar XF Supercharged: Luxury and torque. That pretty much won me over.
2013 Scion FR-S: Lightweight, rear-drive, good looks and serious handling all at a respectable price.
I can't go into details on what' coming in, but trust me, 2013 looks to be epic for the long-term fleet.
Any guesses? And what cars are you thankful for?
Mark Takahashi, Automotive Editor @ 3,733 miles
November 20, 2012
In all honesty, I don't understand the whole Black Friday mess. People standing in line for a so-called deal on something they probably don't need or getting trampled by the unwashed masses just does not compute. But you know what does work for me?
Kurt and I are taking the Focus ST and Scion FR-S to an autocross practice on Black Friday. Initially, Niebuhr thought the Focus would have the edge, since it has quite a bit more power. I disagree. I think the FR-S will paste the Focus because it' sending the power to the rear wheels and power isn't a primary concern when autocrossing.
What do you think? Which car will turn in the fastest time?
Mark Takahashi, Automotive Editor @ 3,722 miles
November 15, 2012
November 14, 2012
In the early '90s the automotive grille nearly became extinct. Same with headlights. Designers wanted to improve drag and exploit the burgeoning miniaturization of lighting and cars' front ends were poised to become featureless lozenges as a result. Then they realized how dumb cars looked with no mouth and no eyes, and today we have cars with big, expressive faces.
Look closely at our longterm 2013 Ford Focus ST' gaping black maw of a grille and you can see that it is mostly decoration -- at least half to two-thirds of it is blocked off completely. This way, the designers can have the face they want without incurring a big drag penalty. It' form before function in the most harmless way possible.
Jason Kavanagh, Engineering Editor
November 09, 2012
Anyone who' been following our Focus ST here probably knows that it' won me over in a big way. When a car excels in so many ways, it' sometimes hard to find faults, but I did.
It' minor. I mean, really minor.
Take a look at the shot that Kurt Niebuhr took above. See the seam where the hood meets the front fascia? Yeah, it' crooked. The hood itself is on the flimsy side and buckles easily under the slightest pressure. It shouldn't bug me as much as it does, but when faults are so few, they small ones seem to be amplified.
It reminds me of this one time I spotted a very attractive Hollywood starlet having lunch near me. She was dressed impeccably and was even prettier in person. But she had the worst table manners I've ever witnessed. She was shoveling her salad into her face and talking to her agent with her mouth full. Chunks of soggy croutons were flying forth like sparks from a campfire. Gross.
But a deal-breaker? No, I suppose not, and neither is the ST' hood gap. MyFord Touch is getting pretty close to that threshold, though. Seriously, Ford, fix it or kill it.
Mark Takahashi, Automotive Editor
October 31, 2012
If you own -- or aspire to own -- a Focus, Ford would like to deputize you. On the Focus site, you can choose and download the badge you see above, as well as a whole slew of other ones. They're formatted for desktop or laptop wallpaper, iPhone or Android phone wallpaper or Facebook profile. There are also versions to use with your signature line in e-mail or on a forum.
October 30, 2012
I'm thrilled that we got our hot-as-hell Ford Focus ST in Tangerine Scream Metallic Tri-coat. None of the other Focus colors pop quite like it. Draped in it, our car is Beyonce, working the most arresting dress ever.
By choosing an orange car, we boldly broke out of the color doldrums that usually grip car buyers. According to Edmunds data, just 0.4 percent of the cars that consumers bought in the last decade were orange. The big color leaders should come as no surprise: silver and black, closely followed by white. Auto-paint supplier PPG says that white continues to be the top automotive paint color in the world. But PPG also says that stronger colors are on the rise, and earlier this month introduced its palette for the 2015-2016 model years.
You've got to love the color names and descriptions, as reported in our news story on the topic: "Al Fresco, a silver metallic with a 'fresh green tint' and Victoria Grey, a 'classic gray with an iridescent highlight of gold metal.' Other colors that may appear on cars in the near future include Opulence, a 'refined red pearl with intense jewel tone' and Elixir, a metallic mixture of silver and magenta. "Sparkly yellow exterior
pain paint treatments" are also coming onto the market -- ours is a forerunner of that.
This is not to say consumers want their cars to scream tangerine. The sales figures of the last 10 years prove it. What' your take on wild car colors? Have you ever bought something really bold? Did you go on loving it, or live to regret it?
Carroll Lachnit, Features Editor, @2,756 miles
October 26, 2012
You know how it is. You drive a car in France, then come back with such a buzz about the experience that you're not sure if the car is really good or you've just been seduced.
Fortunately this time it seems like I was right after all. The Ford Focus ST is just as good as I thought while motoring through some of the mountain passes behind Nice where the Rallye Monte Carlo is staged.
So I don't take back any of it, even the facts I got wrong.
October 26, 2012
We've yet to get our license plates for the Focus ST. As it' the California DMV, they're probably due sometime in March. Any way, when they do arrive we'll have to besmirch that wide gaping maw with a front license plate and it' going to look stupid.
I'm lobbying to have it placed somewhere other than factory standard. Since there isn't a front tow mount like in a Mini Cooper, for instance, our options are few. I'm going to suggest an Altec Retractable Front License Plate Mount. Not only will it satisfy Johnny Law and his bitchy wife Nancy McMetermaid, but we can easily hide it for fun pictures.
Does anyone have a better solution?
James Riswick, Automotive Editor @ 2,525 miles
October 24, 2012
With my precious cargo securely belted in, I took the direct route back home. The long drone of the 5 Freeway beckoned.
Taking the 5 Freeway back to L.A. is decidedly less interesting than the coast route. It' just a long straight haul through farmland and scrub brush. It did, however, point out one of the Focus' shortcomings: the Recaro seats' side bolstering and a small gas tank combined with a pessimistic fuel gauge.
I made it a good 12 hours behind the wheel before my shoulders started aching. They were aching because the shoulder wings of the seats push them forward slightly. Odds are, you'll never be in that position as long as I was. It was an easy fix, though; sit up straight and stretch a few times. Man card restored.
I figured that after I filled-up outside of Livermore, I should easily make it to the Grapevine. "Not so fast," said the low-fuel warning light. Between Bakersfield and the Grapevine I knew I had to stop. The light had been on for a while and the gauge was telling me things were getting serious. I stopped and filled up, but only 10.2 gallons went in. I easily had another 40-plus miles left. Oh well, better than running out and being even later for dinner.
There' something special about dropping into L.A. from the mountains. I know it' all in my head, but when I reach a certain point, I feel like I'm home again. Those last 90 miles or so were a piece of cake. I got back into my neighborhood right around 9:20 pm, and stopped by for some side dishes to go with my much-deserved feast.
October 24, 2012
Opus One. I made it to my mental halfway point. I was still behind my optimal schedule, so I had to make it quick.
I sprinted into the main reception area and was greeted by a friendly employee. She asked if I was here for a tour, and in a slightly winded response, I said, "Actually, I'm here to swing by just to pick up one bottle of Overture."
She smiled and said, "Well, that' just fine by us, too," handing me a pass to the tasting room.
I continued my sprint and squeezed through a group of people enjoying a tasting. As the sommelier rang up my purchase, one of the tasters asked, "Just in for that bottle? Any good?"
I replied, "I've had Overture in previous years and haven't been disappointed. It'll go great with dinner tonight."
"Cool," he said, "so you're a local?
"Nope," I said wryly,"I drove up from L.A," as I collected my bottle hand headed for the door.
He looked like he was trying to process that information, but I was probably halfway to the Focus before it finally hit him.
October 24, 2012
Basking in the afterglow of the twists and turns of Highway One and the beautiful scenery through Big Sur, my quest for dinner continued. I emerged from the rugged coastline and leisurely cruised into Carmel. Being so close to my spiritual home, I had to stop in, at least for a photo opportunity.
Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. This is where the old me ended and the new me began twelve years ago. Shortly after getting into open-wheel racing, I abandoned my previous career to play with cars and bikes all day. I have it under good authority that this will be my final resting place when I take my final lap.
But that' not today. Nope, I'm on a mission, though I am late. I found myself about 40 minutes behind schedule. I pointed the car east out of Salinas to reconnect with the 101 freeway. The good news was, traffic was moving and I started making up some time.
Not knowing exactly how to get to Napa from here, I turned to the navigation system. Ruh-roh.
In the six-and-a-half hours I've been traveling, the only conversation I had would be with the Sync voice activation system. The female voice is pleasant enough, but she was not giving me what I needed (sigh story of my life, amiright, guys? Anyone? Fine, forget it).
I went through the destination selection process, but Sync wasn't recognizing "Opus One." That was my goal, by the way, to stop by Opus One to pick up a bottle of Overture to pair with my perfect steak. The problem might have been that I was searching in Napa, CA, but the winery isn't in Napa, it was in a city that was just on the tip of my tongue. Aww man, what is it? Think, Mark. Nothing.
Instead, I just had the destination set for some nondescript gas station in Napa. Once I got into town, I stopped to check where the winery was on my iPhone. SAINT HELENA! That' it! Sadly, Sync still couldnt find Opus One, so I selected the physical address instead. I was on my way.
Next update: 1:47 pm
Mark Takahashi, Automotive Editor @ 451 miles
October 24, 2012
It seemed to take forever to get to my favorite stretch of Highway One. In reality, it took an hour from San Luis Obispo. The Highway Patrolman that I mentioned in the last post departed the route somewhere around San Simeon. And now, things get interesting.
Being that I was breaking-in the Focus ST, I couldn't exactly have too much fun. I had to keep the revs down below 4,000 rpm as much as possible and vary the engine and wheel speed on the highway.
I figured this car wouldn't be all that fun in the winding roads with turbo lag and torque steer. Again, I was wrong. Turbo lag is just memory above 2,500 and torque steer is managed by a sophisticated e-diff system. Short-shifting around 4,000 rpm was a bit of a bummer, as the engine felt like it could keep winding up for a while. That said, I found it easy to keep the revs in that sweet spot.
There are a few sharp turns that interrupt long sweepers and straights as you approach the fun part of Highway One. I went into the first couple of turns at a very conservative pace and the Focus tracked through with expected ease. Then I started turning in later and later, loading up g-forces to get a feel for what the car might do.
October 24, 2012
Just as the Moon dipped below the hills, the sun crept up behind me, replacing the inky blackness with a blue-grey hue. It was about this time that I started paying attention to the highway ride.
The Focus ST' ride isn't as stiff as other hot hatches. In fact, it' downright enjoyable. You still feel everything, but it never gets harsh or tiresome. It' also agreeably quiet, with a hint of road and wind noise entering the cabin. This was an initial concern of mine. What if it' as stiff as a shopping cart and loud as a leaf blower? You know, like my old Lotus? Not a chance, the Focus was as well-mannered as, well, a Focus.
I pulled into San Luis Obispo at 7:24 am. This is my usual stop. I can't count how many times I've filled up at this particular station. Then the memories came flooding back (cue the daydream transition). The road ahead and I have a lot of history together. It' the route I took to Laguna Seca when I started racing. It' the way I would take to the Monterey Historics every year. Along the way is my favorite weekend getaway. Heck, a seven-year relationship was forged on the next 110 miles. Good memories of an epic drive, but I digress.
I was going to take the coast route, Highway One. If it' early in the morning, I'll always choose the serpentine temptation of this road over the monotony of the 101. It' a bit of a detour, but well worth the extra time. Besides, I had plenty of time, or so I thought.
Right around Morro Beach, the two northbound lanes became one. The right lane was closed to cars and was filled with bicyclists. Don't these people realize that they put engines in those things now? Still, losing one lane didn't impact traffic too much. Not as much as the Highway Patrolman that got in front of me, that is.
October 24, 2012
As noted in the prologue, I was tasked with getting our new long-term Ford Focus ST over the break-in period. And so begins my journey...
I awoke at 3:28 am; two minutes before the alarm was set to go off. There was a mix of excitement and trepidation as I headed out the door. I wasn't worried that I didn't have it in me to complete the mission, no, I was nervous about writing the test drive the following week.
You see, I knew nothing about the car. Not a thing. Somehow, I never paid attention to the press the Focus ST was getting. Horsepower? Yah, I'm sure it' got that. Price? Ummmmm, twenty-ish? The same thing happened with the Scion FR-S. Perhaps I avoided information about it because I figured I'd be disappointed. I was wrong.
In stillness of my neighborhood (as still as it gets, anyway), I packed the car with the essentials: dry Cotto salami, energy drinks, beef jerky and camera equipment. I topped-off the tank with 87-octane, not knowing that 91 was recommended for peak performance. Then I zeroed-out the trip meters. There was already 110 miles on the odometer by that point, so I really only needed to add another 900 miles or so.
October 23, 2012
In the course of evaluating a car, it' often necessary to place myself in someone else' shoes. Thoughtfully consider what needs and desires they have, then determine if that particular vehicle meets them. If I didn't, every minivan review I've ever written would go something like "This thing is pointlessly humungous, ugly, handles like crap and makes me want cry at the thought of my declining youth."
There are other times, though, when I can very much wear my own size 12'. The Ford Focus ST represents one of those times. I love small, torque-rich, sharp-steering, sufficiently damped cars with firm, tight seats that adjust to accommodate my height. I want a manual transmission that' easy to use and near-luxury cabin materials. I expect a certain degree of comfort and quiet for a long road trip. I'd like to order it with a unique color or trim choice, be it inside or out.
That' a lot to ask and at this point, our new Focus is checking every box.
I've liked a lot of our long termers over the years, but I'd only consider actually buying a handful. This could easily be one of them.
James Riswick, Automotive Editor
October 23, 2012
"Hey Takahashi," came a voice over the cubicle partition, "what're you doing this weekend?"
In my mind, the next thing I heard was, "I need you to fly to Italy to test the next Enzo at Fiorano," (I've been accused of being a real-life Walter Mitty many, many times).
"Nothing," I answered, "Whatcha got?"
"I need you to put some miles on a new long-termer," was the reply, "I want to be able to test it on Tuesday. Maybe drive it up north. Get a hotel room and expense it, but we'll need about 1,000 miles on it this weekend. Can you do it?"
Rule #8: The answer to "Can you do it?" is always "yes."
"I'm your man," I said.
"Great," said the voice behind the cubicle, "while you're at it, why don't you do the full test for IL."
Rad. This is also why rule #8 is so important.
So what do I do? Where should I go? Why the hell is there a raw steak pictured above?
In my mind (the same place that I'm testing the new Enzo), I needed more of a challenge than simply logging miles. A quest without challenges is merely a road trip, and a solo road trip is just plain boring. So I hatched a plan.
Friday, I would stop by my not-so-local butcher to pick up a dry-aged, bone-in ribeye. Early Saturday morning, I'd head north to Napa Valley to buy a bottle of wine to pair with the steak. The challenge is to get back in time for dinner on the same day.
A few of my colleagues thought this was a bad idea, considering the fatigue of being behind the wheel for so long. Others thought it was a great idea, and appropriate for my love of food and fun roads. I remained steadfast in my mission, plus, the places I like to stay up there are far too expensive.
So, starting tomorrow at 4am Pacific time, I'm going to start posting my adventure as if I were updating you in real time. Some of you may have followed that trek on Twitter, so this may not be news to you. For the rest, I hope you enjoy the ride. Oh, and follow me on Twitter.
Mark Takahashi, Automotive Editor @ 0 miles