By on September 10, 2015


For those of you who haven’t been keeping track, I’m now a little over one quarter of the way through my 24-month Fiesta ST lease. It’s hard to believe that I’ve had the car this long, but it’s true. I just clicked past the six-thousand-mile mark on the odometer, and I’m just about to make payment number seven, so I’m driving it a little less than I’m permitted to by my lease. That being said, I have driven it more than double the amount of miles that I’ve put on my Boss 302 during the same timeframe.

As I was driving it to Ohio this week from my Old Kentucky Home, chewing up the hilly I-75 North route between Lexington and the Greater Cincinnati Area, a terrible thought occurred to me:

In just about seventeen months, I’m going to have to give the FiST back, and I absolutely don’t want to. 

You see, as I mentioned above, the Boss just doesn’t get much work nowadays. I even put some new BF Goodrich Comp-2 tires on it this summer with the hopes of doing some track days (or, G-d forbid, autocrossing), yet they’re still nearly sticker-new. With the exception of picking up the kiddos from school, the Boss has been relegated to doing what Special Limited Wowzers Editions Mustangs do best: sitting in the garage and appreciating in value.

Why, you may ask? Simple. The Fiesta has proven to be a better car. Ludicrous, you say (or even “Ludacris”)? Not really. The Fiesta is no less fun in daily driving duty than the 302. You can’t drive the 302 much faster than you can the ST on a public road without putting yourself in serious danger of a Reckless Driving citation. In my most recent appearance on The Smoking Tire podcast, Thad and Chris and I all agree — there is no better car per dollar than the FiST. On a California canyon road run or a Kentucky Bourbon Trail run, there aren’t many cars that would show their taillights to the Fiesta, and those that do more than double its sticker price. I simply don’t understand why anybody looking to have a cheap, fun car would buy anything else. The Focus ST might have better performance numbers, but it doesn’t match the Fiesta for pure driving fun.

Secondly, it’s much, much more practical for everyday usage than the Mustang. It costs far less to operate (thanks to fuel mileage that’s about 50-percent better), it is much easier to get the kids in and out of, and, perhaps most importantly, it doesn’t cause every single redneck in a pickup in the Commonwealth of Kentucky to challenge me to Forty Rolls on the highway. It’s no secret that I like a little bit of attention on the road, but there are days when you just don’t want to deal with kids hanging out of the passenger windows of their cars attempting to Instagram your bright yellow pony car.

Lastly, I hopelessly, foolishly, and perhaps irrationally love it. I am waaaaaaaay outside the target demo for this car, both generationally and economically, but I feel good when I drive it. It puts a smile a mile wide on my face every time, and there’s just no good way to measure that. I hate when the buff books put some totally subjective rating like “Fun Factor” or “Gotta Have It” rating in car reviews, but my tiny Blue Oval product would score a solid ten in whatever qualitative rating you want to give it. It’s a freaking hoot.

However, in addition to the inevitable lease-end date, there are two looming specters over the FiST’s presence in my driveway (yes, I have a three-car garage, and no, there isn’t any room for the Little Fiesta That Could in it, thanks to my children’s ever-growing collection of toys), and they’re both going to be made by Ford Performance.

Specter Number One: The Shelby GT350. Yes, I realize that buying a GT350 would pretty much be going in direct opposition to all the comments I just made about the Fiesta versus the Boss. But man, that engine. That gorgeous, flat-crank, high-revving V-8. And that sticker price — it’s actually cheaper than the Boss 302 was when you consider inflation. But I’m pretty sure that I’d break Experian’s computers if I tried to get a loan for the GT350 while keeping the Boss and the FiST, which means that one of them would have to go. And as much as I love the FiST, I don’t really know if I could pick it over the Boss. Yes, I know that the GT350 and the Boss would both be fulfilling the same non-functional role in my garage…fudge; even I can’t make a rational case for keeping the Boss and buying a GT350. Okay, so in this scenario, the FiST stays and the Boss goes — assuming I can even find a GT350 to purchase. Fine.


Specter Number Two: The Focus RS. Yeah, this one is actually the real threat to the FiST. I don’t need two hot hatches, and there’s no denying that, as Matt Farah said in our podcast, which you’d know if you followed me on Cyber Dust, “There’s no way that Ford can fuck (the Focus RS) up.” It’s going to be remarkable. It’s going to have an ungodly launch. It will be just as practical as the Fiesta is — actually more so. All that being said, the price is going to be decidedly un-FiST-ish. If it checks in at around the same price as its competitors (Golf R, WRX STI), then we’re talking close to 40k — or, nearly two FiSTs. Ugh. I don’t need another car payment that exceeds $600 a month. Okay, so in this scenario, the Boss goes and I have two Ford hatchbacks? Well, that doesn’t make any sense at all. Hmm. I think I need to think about all of this a bit more.

Anyway, in any and all scenarios, it appears that the FiST has more than proven its long-term viability in my stable. Which means that I’m seriously sad that I have to send it back when I’m done with it. I know, I could buy the car at the end of the lease, but that just wouldn’t be very Barkish. Plus, there are some nice tax implications involved in a lease when one is trying to find a way to get rid of some pesky 1099 income. Hypothetically speaking, that is. So when it’s time for Zippy (that’s his name, btw) to go to the great Car Lot In The Sky, a new lease is much more likely than a purchase.

Unlike TST’s Chris and Thad, I plan to make exactly no modifications to mine, outside of some upgraded brake pads. That means that in February of 2017, some lucky B&Ber will be able to head to a Ford store and get an unmolested FiST with about 20K on the clock for a silly good price. And I’ll be that much better for having borrowed it from its future owner for a little while, and that much worse for not getting to spool up that turbo one more time.

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57 Comments on “Long-Term Tester Update: I Don’t Ever Want to Give It Back...”

  • avatar


  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    That’s how I felt about my 12 Leaf, which returned to its maker on Labor Day.

    For our present situation, extending the lease made no sense, buying it would have been crazy, and getting something else isn’t what I want to do right now. I really want a next-gen EV (but not at Model S prices) and so that’s a 2-year wait.

    So for a while, I’m driving our 2009 Sedona as a daily driver. But maybe its hauling capability will inspire me to get some home projects going.

  • avatar

    Awesome stuff Bark. Methinks I might have to go with a FiST over the larger FoST just due to the sticker price.

    • 0 avatar

      I’ve spent a bunch of time driving both and I owned a FoST. Here is my chart for which one you should choose:

      No kids = FiST
      Planning on having kids or have a rear facing car seat = FoST
      Have kids facing forward and under 8 or so = FiST
      Have kids that are 8+ = FoST

      Now, as a caveat, if this is your only vehicle and you will be driving long distances on a regular basis the FoST make be a better choice.

      I couldn’t get a rear facing car seat to fit in the FiST with me driving. The base would not fit flat on the rear seat.

      • 0 avatar

        What year was the Focus? I see a LOT of them, lightly used, on lots.

      • 0 avatar

        I was not aware the Focus was a better highway-long-distance car. Granted, you should be able to drive any car long-distance, but its good to know it will be a shade more comfortable in the Focus vs. the Fiesta.

        • 0 avatar

          You can drive any car long distance if you want, but some are much better than others. The Focus has a longer wheelbase and more sound deadening materials than the Fiesta. It’s also faster and a little less fun to drive than the Fiesta. Whatever you prioritize, Ford has good hot hatch choices.

        • 0 avatar

          That’s the primary difference between them actually, interior quality, capacity and refinement. It holds true across the compact hatchback to subcompact class if you ignore outliers like the fit. The deal is that since compact hatches are a volume segment at relatively high price points in Europe we can mooch off of their economies of scale a bit and you really see it when it comes to those three attributes.

          The shorter wheelbase and the lower weight of the subcompact class make them better outright grin machines in the sporty trim levels. The longer wheelbase, more sophisticated suspensions and higher power of the compacts mean they are capable of a faster pace on all but the most twisty roads, even if it doesn’t necessarily feel that way from the driver’s seat.

          • 0 avatar

            Right. For me, I was additional refinement and power. Fusion ST is what I want. 2.7TT plus the new AWD system? Yes please.

            It’s coming:


      • 0 avatar

        While I’d love to have a FiST, the FoST is better proposition for me. My growing kids don’t fit well in the back of the Fiesta. The Focus offers more interior volume. The downside is no DSG-style tranny. Since my wife will not learn to drive one I may be bumped into the GTI. This week I saw a 2015 grey Focus ST and really liked the way it looked.

        • 0 avatar

          I’m 6’5″ with a 2 kids 6 and 4, and I daily a FiST. Sure there may be trade offs but everyone fits and the car is worth every penny. I’ve test driven every other hot hatch and none have the amount of fun as the FiST (subjective I know). I just put some Pilot Super Sports on it and now it rides better to boot. I’m considering an RS this spring but I’m not sure it’ll be worth it for a dollar to fun metric.

          • 0 avatar

            I do not need to hear such things, but either one of the ST brothers could possibly be more reliable than my Dart was. (sniff)

      • 0 avatar

        I wouldn’t want a Fiesta ST with kids of any age, because the lack of rear crush space makes me nervous that an otherwise minor rear-ender could be fairly serious. Same goes for the Mini. I realize the Focus ST isn’t exactly huge back there, but it looks like it could make a difference.

        Also, while I haven’t driven a FiST to make the comparison, IMO the FoST is very refined and quiet, and thus suitable as a daily driver and road trip machine. I think it has less road noise than my 2010 TSX, and even rides just as well, which is impressive.

    • 0 avatar

      I’m with bball here, but will go further.

      In Kentucky, which has great roads compared to Michigan, and hardly any snowy/icy road conditions (for 5 1/2 months) as Michigan does, I’m done with small, agile, sporty coupes or even hatches, and will resign my (admittedly thin) sporting credentials, and go for large, solid, substantial, roomy, plush, quiet, comfy sedans or CUVs/SUVs.

      I never thought it’d come to this, but it has.

      • 0 avatar

        DeadWeight, I’m with you, and I’m up north where the roads are worse. I just cross-shopped the 4runner TRD PRO and Cayenne Turbo (!) and went with the Cayenne. THREE flat tires in less than one month on the 550i and I called B*#shite. My time is too valuable (repairing tires and wheel and facia) and the BMW was just “meh”…it was too isolated a driving experience, so a low fun “return” on the purchase price and run-flat nonsense “investment”. I could have done the new BMW 7, but that would mean more run-flat nonsense tires and a design that my wife called “cheesy” (she was particularly offended by the scents dispensed into the vehicle; she described it as trying too hard and totally unacceptable).

        I hope BMW is listening. Even the guys in the dealerships will, sotto voce, admit that tires and wheels are failing all the time.

      • 0 avatar

        There have always been potholes and uneven pavement; you’re just getting old!

        I’m in the same boat :-(

      • 0 avatar

        Don’t worr, @DeadWeight, no one will think you have taken leave of your senses.

        Now, if you were to announce that you were on your way to acquire that new Cadillac fashionista thingy that is going to by lowered into lower Manhattan by helicopter, I would know that you must have suffered brain damage.

        But as long as you remain true to your assessment of Cadillac, and all that it represents, no one will fault you for going for something a bit larger and more comfy, as you continue to age (as all of us who are not dead do).

        But I am waiting for you to reach critical mass and publish your view of the newest and most ludicrous Cadillac response to the demands of the marketplace, according to their fearless leader.

        We are ready when you are.

    • 0 avatar

      I wanted the Fiesta ST for a while, partly because I think it looks better and partly because several reviews say it’s more fun than the Focus ST (I didn’t drive it myself), but I’ve decided I’m happy with my Focus ST. A good amount of the miles I put on it are highway, so the extra refinement is welcome, and I like the extra room. It’s still fun to drive, even if the Fiesta is presumably more tossable.

      Now if the Fiesta had the packaging magic of the Fit and a slightly softer suspension (the Focus’ is as stiff as I’m happy with and the Fiesta is supposedly stiffer) then it would be pretty impossible to resist. Still a great car though.

  • avatar

    Ya gotta choose. Either you keep the Boss and lease another FiST, or you do the GT350.

  • avatar


    Have you had a chance to drive the GT350 yet?

  • avatar

    You like the FiST and Boss, so why not keep them? There will always be something newer, better, faster, etc. But what matters is driving a car you need, and – if you are lucky – a car you want. You’re already there; enjoy the ride and stop overthinking it.

    • 0 avatar

      Because the siren song of the GT350 calling his name.

      “BAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRKKKKKK, I have a V8 that revs to 8200 RPM and makes a glorious noise!”

      • 0 avatar

        This is so true.

      • 0 avatar

        “Bark, BAAAAARRRRRRKKKK! As great as all the Fords that have come before me are, there is none like me, the one and only GT350. Heed my siren call, Bark. Nothing else will be able to satisfy you the way I can. — signed, The GT350 with your name on it.”

        And I have to admit, it is a car that can legitimately claim to have outdone a whole string of superlative Fords that have come before it.

        If I were a lot younger and had no family obligations, I would even consider running away from home just to be able to work on a team that was seriously racing these beasts, the way young people once ran away to join the circus.

        Ford somehow always manages to outdo even its previous bests…an enviable record.

        My money is on the premise that Bark will go with the GT350, and once he has driven it and owns it, he will forget all about the FiST the way a young man forgets about his HS sweetheart after he meets his first truly hot/exotic woman in college.

        The FiST will become just a vague memory, and Bark will run long and hard with the GT350. My guess is that he will end up keeping it for decades, and would even choose it over the Boss, if it came down to it.

        But the FiST will be dog food, once the GT350 has been experienced.

  • avatar
    David Walton

    Bark, you besmirched my sterling reputation by calling me an “enabler,” so I’m going to live up to that epithet.

    Door Number Three:

    Replace Boss with GT350 (Absolute no-brainer)
    Replace FiSt with Focus RS (Ibid.)

    Raid 529s, HELOCs, 401(k)s as needed! ;)

  • avatar

    It is articles like these that make me have a “car guy” crisis.

    Over the past weekend I was able to sneak onto a Ford lot without being noticed by the commission hunters. i sat in both the FiST and FoST.

    I was struck by how uncomfortable the Recaros were in the focus, they did not have a non-Recaro focus ST around, so for now, the focus is off the list just due to the seats.

    My initial reactions when sitting in the FiST were that the interior quality was pretty sub-par, the interior door handle was already loose…on a car with 14 miles. It also felt a lot more cramped inside than i thought. I figured it would be close to my former chevy sonic i had.

    Both vehicles put me off in somewhat with their first impressions that i did not drive either.

    This is wear my crisis begins. I know that if i drive them, i will probably love the way it drives and i will then try to justify all the short-comings. Then two years down the road the bad/cramped interior will catch up to me and i will sell it for something boring. ARGH!

    With all that said, the car that i had the most fun in (and still regret getting rid of) was my 2004 SRT-4. The way the FiST is described….sounds a lot like the SRT-4…cheap fun.

    • 0 avatar

      The Recaros will break in, but if you hate them that much now, you definitely would be more comfortable in the regular seats. Those seats are an either love it or hate it option.

      • 0 avatar

        I love the Recaros in the mustangs…but not the focus. I wouldnt have thought they would differ that much.

        I will try to avoid test driving the FiST as long as possible so i dont go down that rabbit hole.

        I guess one saving grace is that i am upside down with my impala, so i could buy for a while even if i wanted to!

      • 0 avatar

        I won’t give shoes a chance to break in, nevermind seats in a car costing $23k or whatever a FoST goes for these days.

        If you think car seats are uncomfortable on a short test drive, move on. Seat comfort is too important, and cars are too expensive.

    • 0 avatar

      Sounds like you need to try a FoST with the regular seats. They can’t be that hard to find. Go look at a used one, if necessary.

      • 0 avatar

        You are probably right about the regular seats, i wonder how easy those are to find, i have yet to see one without recaros.

        however, with being upside down in the impala loan, test driving one of these cars might open pandora’s box financially, ha

  • avatar

    “”my 24-month Fiesta ST lease. It’s hard to believe that I’ve had the car this long, but it’s true. I just clicked past the six-thousand-mile mark on the odometer””

    you have had a car and drive 8 milers per day !? do you drive 4 blocks to work ?!

  • avatar

    I wish I could say I didn’t want to turn my leased car (not a Ford) back in but I can’t wait to get rid of it. Just 2 months after I got it our manufacturer overhauled our employee lease deals and I could have gotten a much nicer car for practically the same payment as I have now with this P.O.S. Late May 2017 can’t come fast enough for me.

  • avatar

    I don’t know man. I have a hard time seeing the rs as a worthy replacement for either, rather it’s a sell both cars and replace with one kind of proposition. I obviously haven’t driven the rs but going off of the gti vs golf r (I’ve driven both of the last two generations) and having driven both current st’s I’d bet nearly any money that the st will end up being more fun than the rs in the long term. Especially to an owner that is willing to change up tires, swaybars and consider an ecu tune.

    The awd r felt super impressive and capable, but it’s not faster than a lightly modded gti and its arguably less fun to drive. I’ve seen at least three stage one mkvii’s basically pull at parity with the r ignoring the launch advantage of awd. Maybe ford will go a different route.

    I’d keep the mustang and get an st or a gti to replace the fist.

  • avatar

    1. Put Boss in storage
    2. Keep FiST

  • avatar

    The FiST sounds like fun. However, I would be concerned about comments here on TTAC that it will tip over if you put good tires under it.

  • avatar

    I agree that Ford can’t possibly mess up the Focus RS, but their dealers are going to milk them for “market adjustment” markups enough to make the idea of purchasing one a bad one for several months.

    At $40k it’s an expensive but fun and advanced performance hatchback. At $50k it’s a rip off.

  • avatar

    #1. Sell Boss since you don’t drive it much (Buy son yellow Boss R/C car).
    #2. At FiST lease end, buy an RS (Epic win).

    #3. EA888 (POS).

  • avatar

    I have had my FiST for 18 months as a daily driver, still smile every time I drive it.

  • avatar

    …i don’t know about that focus: yeah, i’m sure it’ll be pretty riotous, but eight hundred pounds is a *lot* of agility…

  • avatar

    I’ve driven a FiST, and as I read the article, all I could think was “Holy shit, this guy is insane!” I’m so thankful I don’t have to drive something like this, as a friend of mine has to as he’s going through a rough divorce. He’s stuck with Ford as he has family connections at a couple of SE Mich dealerships, and this was the best new car he can afford. He’s counting the months until it’s gone forever(When his daughter graduates college in 2016, and he’s driving a Mustang GT(Hopefully).

  • avatar

    My vote is to keep the Boss and the Fiesta, drive both the RS and the GT350, pick one.

    Unless the rest of your lease on the Fiesta goes horribly wrong, buy it and use it as a daily. Pay it off asap and then go back and revisit the car you didnt choose above. It never hurts to wait a few model years before buying something.

    You end up with two impractical Mustangs, and/or two Ford hatchbacks? Id say youre doing pretty good! Thats not a problem, thats a good thing! The Mustangs are likely to go up in value, and the ST and RS will probably be worth something decent if well cared for with average or below miles.

    I would like a sporty coupe or a useful truck as a second vehicle, but if some other sedan Ive always wanted comes my way, Id would still buy it while keeping my Taurus. Two sedans? I dont care, I buy/keep what I like and if that means two sedans, then that’s two sedans.

    Case in point, once I had a 98 Lumina, 96 Concorde LXi, 93 Taurus and a 93 and 92 Tempo sedans all at the same time, lol. Now, the Lumina and 93 Tempo were just cars to flip after a few minor repairs.

  • avatar

    It’s a little early to start talking about how you don’t want to return it. It sounds like you like to mix things up periodically. You’ll be ready for a change when the lease is up, no matter how good the car is.

  • avatar

    I know being a car guy is mostly not about making rational decisions, I certainly have some examples in my past, but keeping the Boss AND buying a GT350 would be like, well, like keeping the FiSt and buying a Focus RS I guess…
    Either trade in the Boss for a GT350, or keep the Boss and get an RS, you don’t need more than one of each type of car.
    Or start modding the Boss like you are supposed to do with all fast Fords, actually, the FiSt was really made for modding too, both these cars have the potential to be ‘more’ than what a factory can do.

  • avatar

    Rear-wheel drive, Bark. Rear. Wheel. Drive. That’s what keeps me from a FiST.

  • avatar

    I imagine the ADM on the GT350 will resolve any dilemma.
    Not because you couldn’t afford it, but NO ONE wants to listen to his brother tell everyone how the dealer BENT HIM OVER THE PRISON CELL BASIN!

  • avatar
    Compaq Deskpro

    You should drive the Boss more often. It doesn’t make sense to hoard it like its a rare sports car, its not, its a big heavy personal luxury coupe, and should be driven as such, every day with the occasional WOT onto the onramp.

  • avatar

    “I know being a car guy is mostly not about making rational decisions”

    If I knew how to make rational decisions, I wouldn’t be a car guy !

    If you have found something that tops the Mustang in the fun department, hang onto it like grim death…

  • avatar

    I think if your finances work and the market for Boss 302s are good, you should be able to justify getting both the Shelby and the FoRS to replace the Boss and the FiST.

    Theoretically you can sell the Boss, which like you said on TST, will probably go up when the Shelbys first come out due to limited supply. Proceeds from that sale will probably cover a big chunk of the price of the Shelby, then when it’s time to turn in the FiST, you can also justify moving up to the FoRS since by that time your children will hopefully be bigger than they are now.

    Of course, that all hinges on if you can make it work financially.

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