2013 Ford Focus ST: Break-In, 8:32 am
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.
After I was at that point where I'm comfortable with a car' handling --the point where I feel like I'm wearing the car -- I pushed just a bit harder. An intentional lift of the accelerator got the tail to step out ever so slightly; maybe an inch or two at most. Nice. The car held that miniscule slide, too, right until I eased back into the pedal and the front tires pulled the rears into line.
Admittedly, I was never a front-wheel-drive type-of-guy. Regardless of where the engine is, I prefer the power to go to the rear tires, and only the rear tires. But this changed my mind. The Focus ST convinced me that I could have just as much fun with the power at the front. It was so much fun, in fact, that I was comparing it to our Scion FR-S in my head; mostly because you didn't have to be shattering the speed limit to have this sort of fun.
"Holy smokes," I thought (not really the word I used), "this changes everything."
Next update: 10:30 am
Mark Takahashi, Automotive Editor @ 341 miles