1,000 Miles in the Focus ST - Some Thoughts So Far

Nearly two weeks ago, I bought a Focus ST. Somehow, I have already put down 1,000 miles over 30 hours of seat time. That means I have filled it up four times already in less than two weeks. That's right. If I keep up this pace, I'll have somewhere near 27k miles on my car in one year's time. Yeah, I'm going to cool it a bit.

Anyway, I figured I'd sum up some of the things I've noticed so far. Lets start with...

The Good:

Toooooorque. This thing is effortlessly quick. Second gear especially fun to roll into and let boost build quickly from "meh" at 1,500 RPM, to "Oh, that's why the seats are designed this way" at 3,000 RPM. That last part is almost exactly what my cousin said when she rode in it for the first time. I love how non-car people can put things sometimes.

Some more notes:

  • The seats are surprisingly comfortable over longer drives. 2-2.5 hour trips are nothing in this car. The best part of the seats that no one talks about is that the head rest is actually usable without leaning your head way back. Very nice.
  • The Sony stereo is pretty nice. Lots of volume, lots of bass if you want it, its a little strong in the mids, but there is enough clarity in the highs without getting too hairy.
  • It stays under the radar pretty well. In black at least, it doesn't scream "race me" and doesn't seem like it would be a cop magnet.
  • Torque steer is pretty manageable. Around turns you can kind of guide it to the direction you want to go. The oversteer is especially easy to correct, just throttle out of it once you've rotated the amount needed. All this with a big grin on your face.
  • The keyless entry and ignition work flawlessly. I absolutely love being able to unlock the door by just putting my hand in the handle, and locking it is almost as easy.
  • Sound symposer or not, I don't care. This thing sounds good when you get on the gas, without being loud to everyone else on the road. That's ideal for me.
  • It has the room of a Focus, which is pretty good. The seats fold flat, and when I don't need that space I can fit plenty of people. Cool.

1,000 Miles in the Focus ST - Some Thoughts So Far

The Bad:

The gas tank is tiny. Ford says 12.4 gallons, so that means it sits on E after only ~9 gallons of fuel used. This is very annoying especially since it doesn't get that fantastic mileage. I'm averaging 24.6 MPG right now, which isn't bad considering I've been flooring it up any empty onramp I encounter, but it isn't great. This is probably a 60/40 split of freeway to city mileage, but freeway traffic can get pretty obscene here in SoCal. I did play around with it though, and on the freeway cruising at 70, it will stay above 30 mpg pretty consistently. Cruising 80 averages out to 28.5-29 mpg, which sounds about right.

Some more notes:

  • Sync and MyFord Touch are OK for the most part, but can still be slow to respond. Navigation is particularly annoying though. Your passenger cannot input a route while you're driving, forcing you to pull over to do it. Then the resistive display is unresponsive and slow. Very annoying.
  • Fifth gear is essentially useless. If I'm accelerating hard, third and fourth gear can take me well above legal speeds. If I'm cruising, I get up to speed in fourth and can then go straight to sixth at any speed above 40 MPH. Then, annoyingly enough, 6th gear is approaching 3k RPM at freeway cruising speeds, and fifth is only ~500 RPM above that. They are both overdrive gears, but they need to be spaced out more.
  • The shift light is a bit annoying. It will almost always tell you to shift under 2k RPM, regardless of any reason you hold it out. Not a big deal, and you can turn it off. Nevermind, you can only turn it off with an ECU flasher.
  • There is a decent amount of wheel hop when spinning the tires in first (which is very easy to do). This is due to a very rubbery rear engine mount and is a very common first upgrade.
  • Brake dust, brake dust, brake dust. These pads Ford uses are notorious for turning your wheels grey in just a few days. Annoying, but not a big deal.
  • There are USB ports in the center console to charge your phone, but on the ST3, there is no slot for the cord to come out. I might file down a hole for this at some point.
  • There is no height adjustment for the ST3 passenger seat. My head is brushing up against the headliner if I sit there, but luckily most people aren't as tall as I am.

1,000 Miles in the Focus ST - Some Thoughts So Far

Not my shot — Found here.

Other interesting little details:

  • In models with the (stupid) ambient lighting, the lights change color depending on who's door is open. A closed door will have a blue light in the handle, and an open door has a red light.
  • On the 2014 models and on, there is no pause/play button on the steering wheel. Slightly annoying.
  • Every window switch has an auto up/down feature. Even the rear windows. The moonroof does, but it is the only window that looses power when the ignition is off.
  • The car knows when the key is inside the car, and makes it nearly impossible to lock your keys in the car.
  • You can track your trip MPG, but there is no live readout for current MPG, which is kinda weird.
  • People in other Focus ST's will wave at you. I'm used to seeing this from my Jeep days, but this was a little bit of a surprise.

Overall I'm very happy. When I showed it to my girlfriend's family they just kind of said, "Oh, cool, you got a Focus," and seemed kind of surprised because I usually buy "cool cars," but such is the way of things. So far only a few people have tried to race me, which is a nice change from every other ricer peeling out next to me when I drove my BMW. I think the color helps keep this car incognito, especially in stark contrast to the orange and red models, which are just screaming for tickets.

I'll leave it stock for now, but I'm not sure how long I can last. Most upgrades seem to add torque and not much horsepower, and this thing will already spin its tires up to third with traction control on. So I'll probably wait off on that. It doesn't need more torque steer just yet.