2013 Ford Focus ST: Break-In, 9:35 pm
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.
Fuel economy for the trip averaged out to 24.8 mpg (the in-car meter gave me 25.5 mpg). The best result came from the tank fill in Salinas that lasted until Livermore with a 27.2 average. The worst, understandably, included the Highway One shenanigans, with a 21.0 mpg. I'm pretty sure that the fun part of the coast route would have been around 15 mpg, at best.
As soon as I got home, I lit up the barbecue (real lump charcoal. None of that gas or briquette junk for me, thanks). I popped open the bottle of Overture and let it breathe in my last remaining Orrefors wine glass (previous girlfriends managed to break the others). The steak was perfect. Really, truly, epically good. But here' the kicker: the wine wasn't as good as the last couple of bottles I've had. It lacked the boldness and body of the one I brought back two years ago. It was still good, but not as phenomenal as I had hoped.
But it mattered little. I had made it home. I accomplished my goal and in the process, discovered a truly great car. I lit up a cigar from a small Caribbean island and splashed some Scotch into a glass. I slept like the dead, woke up in the morning and took the Focus ST out for yet another drive on MY roads, and without that pesky break-in procedure. Yes, it was even better higher in the revs.
A things considered, it was an incredibly satisfying way to spend a Saturday.
Mark Takahashi, Automotive Editor @ 1,037 miles