Test Drives: Fiesta ST vs Focus ST

These are two of the most talked-about sports cars around. Mainly because they’re so improbable – both have 4 doors, a trunk, get over 30 MPG, and are an absolutely blast to drive. Not to mention it’s nice to be able to spend around $25,000 for a brand-new car that’s throws you back in your seat when you step on it.

I found out my local Ford dealer had a Fiesta ST in stock, so I decided I’d take it for a spin. Here’s a couple of my impressions:

Interior:
The both the Focus ST and Fiesta ST’s Recaro seats hugs your rear end like an all-body version of those plastic child booster seats at Pizza Hut. Once you’re in,  forget about checking for your wallet – you’re clamped in. You’ll figure out when you arrive whether you remembered it or not, unless you want to do a quick rear-end patdown dance at a stoplight. That being said, the Recaros are pretty comfortable. I did sit in another Fiesta ST at a car show, and the seats were too tight, and rather uncomfortable. Not that I’m too round for this car – for reference, I’m 6’ tall, and weigh 175 lbs.

Ergonomics:
The shifter in the Fiesta ST felt absolutely perfect – right where I expected it to be. On the Focus ST, however, it felt a little too high and forward, though I’m sure I could get used to it. The info screen on the Fiesta ST looked a little too small, compound by the fact it was a little too far away for my tastes.

Handling:
Both cars have an extremely sharp turn-in, yet they’re pretty relaxed on the highway. I didn’t get a chance to do any sliding, or tail-out maneuvers, considering the salesman was in the passenger seat, unfortunately. Both these vehicles handle exactly the same on the street, and I’m sure on a track, differences could be found that favors the Fiesta ST, with its lighter weight.

Power:
Here’s where there’s a substantial difference. Notice there’s about a second difference in their 0-60 times, with the Focus ST being faster at 5.7 seconds. This is noticeable in everyday driving. Stomp the accelerator on the Focus St, and the vehicle lurches forward, for the torque surge begins around 2500 rpms. If you really push hard, the Focus ST will chirp its tires in the first 3 gears (with the torque steer to match.) However, the Fiesta St does not have torque steer problems. Mainly because it isn’t torquey enough. It never quite manages to match the Focus ST in acceleration. Matter of fact, hopping into a Fiesta ST after driving a Focus ST, the Fiesta ST feels almost lethargic.

Conclusion:
I’d pick the Focus ST all the way, for its better practicality, stronger engine, and better looks. The Fiesta ST may handle better, but you probably won’t notice it on the street, unless you’re driving fast enough to break the tires loose. And with a skidpad of .96g, you’d have to be driving like you’re on the run.

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