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Is a Focus ST the Perfect Compromise? - 2015 Ford Mustang GT Long-Term Road Test

Edmunds.comEdmunds.com Posts: 10,059
edited September 2015 in Ford
imageIs a Focus ST the Perfect Compromise? - 2015 Ford Mustang GT Long-Term Road Test

If you can't afford a Ford Mustang GT, there might be another option on the Ford lot if you're looking to have a bit of fun: a (modified) Ford Focus ST.

Read the full story here


Comments

  • I went from a Mazdaspeed3 to my Mustang GT, and some days I really miss the jack-of-all-tradesiness of the hot hatch. Then I pin the go-pedal, spur all 400+ horsies into full gallop and I feel good again.
  • The thing is that you can get a GT for $35k that is substantially faster than that $35k Focus, or you can get a $30k V6 Mustang that is still faster than that Focus and have money left over to get the suspension up to GT spec and so probably faster around a corner than that Focus.

    I think the fact that you are even comparing these cars is a reflection of your age (which I don't mean in any sort of negative way). Guys in their 20's and early 30's may read this and think "hmmm", but middle aged guys like me read it and think, "why would I trade a 435hp V8 pony car for a turbo hot hatch?" I wouldn't even trade a V6 Mustang for a Focus ST.
  • Great post, and kudos to Ford for offering such a nice range of performance parts. I think I'd go for the diff and upper front strut tower brace, both of which should sharpen the handling with no ride penalty. I'm in downtown Philly, so I wouldn't go lower or stiffer than stock.

    @bankerdanny, you might be right on the age thing, but remember that middle-aged folks often have kids, and a Focus ST is much more practical for family hauling duties. I'm 48, and would pick a Focus ST for that and other reasons. Heck, my dad even considered one when they came out, and he was 75 at the time.
  • Yeah, sorry, I'm not spending SUV type money on a teenage dream hatchback. You're crazy. V6 or Turbo Mustangs are the way to go if you're looking for cheaper performance (or a stripped down GT). A Fiesta ST might be a good option too, but a $35k tuner Focus? Yeah, right, lets make 5 years of payments at $670 per month, so it can be resold for half that and lacks the HP or any real practicality. The Miata and used Boxsters would probably be better options as well.
  • defyant15defyant15 Posts: 74
    edited September 2015
    Mustangs hold their value better, have a much nicer interior, look infinitely more sleek and sophisticated (stock or even with stripes, LOL) and if we're going to play the tuning game - have a lot more potential. Ex: Ford Racing shocks and springs, Koni, BMR etc will greatly increase balance, turn in and handling. There are a ton of reasonably priced braces that improve feel further. Cat-backs like Corsa, ARH make the V8 sound like an exotic. Bolt-ons bring HP to 480ish, a super charger brings it reliably upto 650 at the wheels. Long story short, its difficult to spend 35K on a Focus (however great it is) unless you absolutely needed to ferry adults in the back often. The NA engine in the GT will handle lap after lap of abuse, and so will the brakes.

    With 1500-2000 of suspension mods, the Mustang will out handle most cars under 75K and many under 100K. However, I do agree that the ST is one of the best handling cars in the 25K segment, at 35K, the proposition is much harder to digest. A case could be made if the Focus RS is 32-35K loaded, as it offers AWD, more exclusivity and probably excellent handling and lower depreciation for those who dont mind the looks and interior. Not sure if the 35K price quoted for the ST above includes labor for the parts as well.
  • bankerdannybankerdanny Posts: 1,021
    edited September 2015
    I didn't mean to run down the Focus. I'm 50 (no kids though) and would be very interested in the upcoming RS if I had the cash. The two cars I own now are a 2009 Vibe GT (the wife's car) and a 2002 Saab 9-3 SE (well, and a 1972 MGB-GT undergoing restoration). So I am well aquainted with the virtues of the turbo 5-door hatchback.

    But I think that Travis's premise is off and that not only is the ST not a compromise for the Mustang GT, it isn't even in the conversation as a possible alternative.

    If you want something like the Mustang and it fits your lifestyle, then you are very unlikely to consider the Focus, not even the RS, as an alternative.

    If however you do have kids or large dogs or just need the practicality of a 4-door hatch, and you also want great performance, the ST is a terrific option.
  • atariatari Posts: 10
    So, is the Mountune MP275 Performance Upgrade a $1900 tune, or does it include an intake? Price-wise you're now in loaded GTI territory, so I'd be curious to see those two run against each other. At a glance the performance numbers seem close. The interior of the VW is probably a nicer place to be.
  • daryleasondaryleason TexasPosts: 501
    No one will want a 20 year old Focus...but a 20 year old Mustang will still sell. What I hate is hearing people say "It's an aftermarket package that lets you keep your factory warranty." Federal Law says you keep it no matter where you get your aftermarket parts. They just don't have to cover the part they didn't put on to begin with. The closest to truth that this has is that Ford-Authorized Accessories sold to customers come with their own factory warranty (I believe its a year) and is administered separately from the vehicle. So if you buy a Mustang today, then two weeks from now add an exhaust, the exhaust is warrantied separate from the vehicle. Even if the vehicle has a 3 year, 100k mile warranty, the ford accessory may only have 1 year.
  • Instead of spending all the extra money modifying a car; I would just wait until the Focus RS comes out in the spring before I would make this statement. More power, all wheel drive, and nearly the same amount of money as you spent for the ST and all the mods. Plus a full factory warranty on everything.
  • @the_jerns-
    I agree entirely. There may be a significant advantage with the the LSD in this car but I don't think it will be noticed by very many people unless they occasionally auto-x or track their car. An AWD RS would be a more useful daily especially in colder climates where AWD could offer an advantage.
    I have 3 kids so a Mustang in any form is completely out of the question. If I buy a new car its going to be a hot hatch so I can have my fun and haul the kids plus their stuff. I've been a fan of hot hatches since I was kid (who grew up with the likes of the MKII GTI, Civic SI, CRX, etc.) so I am a bit biased.
  • diigiidiigii Posts: 156
    As the saying goes, "There is no replacement for displacement."
  • roadburnerroadburner Posts: 12,248
    kain77 said:

    I went from a Mazdaspeed3 to my Mustang GT, and some days I really miss the jack-of-all-tradesiness of the hot hatch. Then I pin the go-pedal, spur all 400+ horsies into full gallop and I feel good again.

    I have a 2007 Mazdaspeed GT; with the Mazdaspeed Cold Air Intake and a Hypertech tune it's making around 320 hp at the crank. I added a JBR rear anti-roll bar, KONI FSDs, and Pilot Super Sports. It already has an LSD. I'm also considering a Mustang(GT Premium with the 401A Equipment Group and the Performance Package- I cannot abide the 1889 Hyundai upholstery and the audio system of the base GT). There is NO way I'd consider the ST an alternative to the Mustang- if I WAS going with another turbo it would be a Golf R, an M235i, or an STI- although I'd probably wait to see how the Focus RS turns out. That said, I want at least one more 400+ hp RWD V8 before the eco-weenies force us all into 3 cylinder FWD hybrids...

    Mine: 1995 318ti Club Sport; 2014 M235i; 2009 Cooper Clubman; 1999 Wrangler; 1996 Speed Triple Challenge Cup Replica Wife's: 2015 X1 xDrive28i Son's: 2009 328i

  • socal_ericsocal_eric SoCalPosts: 189
    edited September 2015
    I bought a 2013 Focus ST when they first starting hitting the dealers here in Southern California and kept it for about two years. I could have bought a Mustang GT with the performance package and might have seriously considered a Boss 302 if there was another one in my area other than the dealer demo with thousands of miles, but I really wasn't considering the pony car.

    It's interesting to see the formal testing differences between both cars but I wouldn't call the Mountune/Ford Racing-parts equipped ST a GT competitor. It's more for someone who really likes the Focus ST package and wants a little more performance or enjoys tinkering and modifying their car no matter they drive.

    Looking at the parts offered on the modified car, the current Focus ST has a relatively small K03-family turbo that doesn't have the headroom to wring out much more power (safely) out of it than this tuning kit provides. Other aftermarket tuning options might be able to get a bigger mid-range torque spike but this should retain stock-like drivability, emissions compliance, and long-term durability but you're paying for that certification and testing. The stock handling balance is already very good and these minor upgrades aren't going to completely change the character of the car. For someone pushing an ST at an auto-x or track days the best upgrade is likely the well-priced mechanical Quaife ATB diff which will allow for putting down power without having to use the front brakes for the electronic torque vectoring/biasing, while still working with those systems to aid handling.

    It's also important to keep in perspective what the Focus ST is. While we did get the SVT Focus which was mechanically identical to the first performance Focus offered in European, the ST170 model, we didn't get the first two generation RS models. Also when the Focus was completely redesigned for Europe in '04/05 we just got a slightly refreshed car. The Europeans got a turbocharged performance ST model while we got an appearance package ST sedan with some left-over SVT Focus suspension parts.

    The current Focus ST isn't meant to be an all-out hot hatch. That's the role the RS model will fill. What the ST offers is a relatively inexpensive mid-level performance packaunge that we're been starved of for years. What makes it so good and different from a Mustang is that it combines a lot of things that are distinctly different. It's front drive for better traction in the snow belt, it has a real back seat and hatch versatility, it gets much better mileage, the driving position and suspension tuning are different than the Mustang (some might prefer one over the other), and it provides a great *usable* power/handling package.

    You can take an ST and safely push it around highway onramps or mountain backroads and the magic of the suspension tuning, variable steering rack and the electronic understeer mitigation and active torque biasing across the front axle make you feel like a superhero, driving something special that defies expectations of what a nose-heavy, front drive car should do.

    After buying mine I concentrated a long time on the steering that didn't offer much feedback or road feel, how it really wasn't as fast as some of my older front drive sporting compacts, and how the electronic interventions don't quite come across as natural. Part of that was my unreasonable expectation that it should be a max-performance model like the RS. The ST isn't and was never intended to be. Taken on its own merit the ST is a great car that can put a smile on your face without having to push well outside the legal limits.

    That's one of the biggest differences from the Mustang. The handling limits with today's performance summer tires are hard to reach on public roads and while the Mustang is a fine car to drive, it isn't as approachable to the average driver. You might choose it in a heartbeat for a track day on a longer road course, but the ST can make you feel like a track star in the normal daily grind and still has reasonable reserve to really push it. That's one of the biggest differences for me.


    No one will want a 20 year old Focus...but a 20 year old Mustang will still sell.

    A twenty year old V6 Mustang? How about now that the 2.3L and V6 make the same power and turn better track times than a GT from just a decade ago, let alone two decades ago? By saying "sell" any nice car treated well will have some type of resale but you don't buy any new performance Focus of Mustang today for resale in two decades. You buy them to drive today.

    While a theoretical 20-year old base model Focus or a garden variety Mustang might not command a ton of money, if I was in the market another decade down the road I'd definitely consider another SVT Focus or even the current ST, just like I wouldn't mind an '03-04 Cobra even if new regular GT models from today are pretty close to that level of performance. While *you* might be interested in an old Mustang way down the road don't think others won't also be interested in a performance or special Focus.
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