By on November 4, 2016

Ford Fiesta ST and Ford Focus RS in Bark's driveway, Image: © 2016 Bark M./The Truth About Cars

Yep, that’s my driveway. Based on my non-scientific observations and complete lack of research, I’m going to say I’m the only person in the world to have both a Ford Fiesta ST and a Ford Focus RS. Well, okay. I’m a person in the world who has a Fiesta ST and a Focus RS, which makes me uniquely qualified to compare the two.

“Hold up,” you might be saying. “Who compares a car that stickers for just over $23,000 with a car that runs $43,000 plus additional dealer markup?” (And yes, I know that you can get FiSTs for under $20,000 now. We’ll get to that.)

Well, it’s not as crazy of a comparo as you might think.

In some ways, the comparison is unfair — to the Focus.

The Fiesta ST might land in the highest fun-per-dollar quotient of any car ever made. It’s the E30 M3 and the MK II GTI wrapped into one. It’s impossible to overstate just how great it is to drive. In fact, up until I bought the Focus, I was starting to get incredibly depressed about the thought of giving the Fiesta back in February, because there’s absolutely nothing else like it on the market. I had almost convinced myself to either buyout my lease or just buy a new FiST when I turned this one in.

However, as great as the Fiesta is, the Focus is a whole ‘nother ball of wax. To drive the Focus RS is to have the ability to launch yourself into any gap in traffic, no matter how small. And maybe it’s just because I live in the great Commonwealth of Kentucky, but Nitrous Blue garners more attention and comments than my School Bus Yellow Boss 302 ever did. Like the Fiesta, there’s nothing else like it on the market — and no, the Golf R and the STI don’t count.

But, for a moment, let’s forget about how sublimely unique each of the Fords are, forget about what the window sticker says, and talk about how they actually measure up to each other.

Aesthetics: I think I’m being kind when I call the Fiesta ST a visual rollerskate. It’s not a pretty car, is it? While a certain quirky charm exists in the otherwise ridiculous spoiler and the honeycomb grille is a welcome replacement for the appliance-like face of the regular Fiesta hatch, it’s hard to think of the Fiesta as being anything better than “cute.”

The Focus, on the other hand, is a handsome car. It manages to evoke a visceral excitement in people, even those who aren’t necessarily sure of what it is. Nitrous Blue is the best paint color available on a mass-produced car, period. Advantage: FoRS

Interior: This one is closer than you’d think. Even though my Focus has leather-trimmed, heated Recaro seats and I opted not to get them in the Fiesta, I actually like the regular seats in the Fiesta a bit better. And while the Fiesta has less interior space than the Focus, it actually feels a little more spacious, especially when it comes to head and shoulder room. Neither interior is going to win any design awards, for sure. The Focus is a little nicer, but it’s not twice as nice, so I’m calling it a wash. Advantage: Tie

Infotainment: The Focus has SYNC 3 and the Fiesta doesn’t. That alone would be enough to give the nod to the FoRS — except that 2017 FiSTs have SYNC 3, as well. Neither stereo will satisfy audiophiles and my Focus’ “premium” 12-speaker audio system isn’t worth its premium price. Advantage: Tie

Acceleration: The Focus is faster from 0-60 mph than 90 percent of the cars of the road thanks to launch control and all-wheel drive. However, from 5-60, there’s not as much of a difference as you’d think between the Focus and Fiesta. The Focus feels a little slower than it actually is and the Fiesta feels a little faster than it actually is. Nevertheless, I can’t ignore statistics. Advantage: FoRS

Handling: Where the Focus’ handing capabilities shine are under acceleration and in mid-corner speed. The FoRS turns like a mid-engined supercar — the AWD, combined with Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires, makes it easy to stomp on the throttle at apex and just let it unwind. But the Fiesta is just so fun. How many front-wheel-drive cars have oversteer dialed in from the factory? Where the FoRS is understeer prone (yes, despite having Drift Mode), the FiST happily kicks the rear tires out and lets you steer with the gas. Torque-steer is ever-present with the Focus, especially if you’re changing elevation, but it’s virtually non-existent in the Fiesta. The FoRS has less drama, yes, but the FiST provides more grins. Advantage: FiST

Transmission: The Fiesta has the best shifter of any car I’ve ever driven, period. Heel/toes aren’t particularly easy, thanks to pedal positioning, but the knob just slides from gear to gear like butter. The Focus, on the other hand, reminds me of the unloved Getrag transmission from the Boss 302. It’s notchy and clunky, and the clutch isn’t particularly kind for street driving. It’s so heavy that it reminds me of the throttle on the cars from the Tomorrowland Speedway. Advantage: FiST

Track driving: The Fiesta may be the easiest car ever to drive on track. You can give the car full throttle at all times and it’s not ever going to get you in trouble. No, it’s not particularly fast, but it feels fast. Despite the joy you’ll get from the Fiesta, don’t expect to stay ahead of many cars in an HPDE session, especially in the straights.

There’s no such problem with big brother. The Focus RS will stick its wide maw right up the posterior of cars with much more power and much higher sticker prices, thanks to the ability to stick any corner and rocket out of tight turns. It’s going to take something like a Camaro SS/Mustang GT to gap the FoRS. Even then, it will take a skilled driver. At an autocross, a well-sorted Focus will compete with S2000s and C5 Corvettes. There’s no comparison. Advantage: FoRS

Intangibles: Both cars are easy to love. The Fiesta is like a playful puppy dog who’s always happy to see you when you come home. It feels a bit like driving a toy car or go-kart, thanks to the lightweight body and responsive throttle. The Focus, on the other hand, requires your attention. It looks, sounds, and feels like motorsport. Despite being a C-Segment car, it doesn’t feel like a small car; more like driving a Mustang than a hatchback. I’m not sure if either car is “appropriate” for a man who’s less than a year shy of his 40th birthday, but the Focus feels a little more respectable. Advantage: Tie

So if we’re going just on the category wins, the Focus takes a slight win, 3 to 2 — but it’s not that simple. We can’t just ignore the fact you can buy two Fiestas for the price of one Focus. And thanks to current incentives, the Fiesta can now be had for less than $20,000 including destination. That’s crazy.

Since I’ve already had a Fiesta for the last two years, I wouldn’t recommend another one — for me, that is. I’m glad I got the Focus, and I’m looking forward to owning it for a long time. But for you? If you’re thinking about getting a Focus RS, go drive a Fiesta ST too, and ask yourself: is the Focus twice as good?

I already know the answer.

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66 Comments on “Bark’s Bites: Ford Fiesta ST vs. Ford Focus RS in the World Series of Love...”


  • avatar
    TDIandThen....

    Thanks for doing this – much appreciated. I fondled the Focus RS and decided I couldn’t live with that interior and mediocre mileage for that much money, though it’s gorgeous in many ways. However for much less money…I’m going to check the FiST out and think about it.

  • avatar
    Paul Alexander

    Great Prince reference, Bark!

  • avatar
    koreancowboy

    I’ve been racking my brain, trying to find the near-perfect quasi-commuter/weekend toy.

    The FiST is definitely on my radar…although I’ll need something more comfortable/for long trips to outright replace my current DD (a “free” 2003 Toyota RAV4L).

    • 0 avatar
      JMII

      Golf GTI or Golf R are options. I’d throw the G37 / whatever Infiniti calls it now into hat as well. The main problem with sports cars is the stiff suspension and heavy clutch. Thankfully I live in FL where the roads are flat and smooth so living with my Z as a DD is manageable. I overcome road noise with a 500 watt aftermarket audio system.

      • 0 avatar
        focus-ed

        “The main problem with sports cars is the stiff suspension and heavy clutch. “. I admit I’ve never had a real sports car but I just don’t understand that heavy clutch talk. It can be more or less predictable/intuitive to get moving in 1st (or reverse) but nothing beyond this. It’s the accelerator pedal that bother me more in daily driving (always in use, vibrations remind of past injuries, etc). Maybe if I was riding the clutch but this would be entirely different issue.

    • 0 avatar
      brenschluss

      For what it’s worth, I bought a FiST in large part because of the available Recaros which, for me, make it incredibly comfortable for long drives. They definitely made their presence felt for a few weeks until they broke in, but now as soon as you wiggle into them, it’s like a warm hug.

      From what I read, those under 6′ tend not to like these seats, whereas those over have fewer issues. I could see why; the bolsters will be in your armpits if you’re short.

      Last month I took a little trip which was 9 hours each way.* I’ve done this before in other cars and had to stop just to touch my toes, stretch out, and regain feeling in my ass. This time, perfectly comfortable. I could have driven it straight through if I hadn’t needed to stop for gas.

      *I should say, this was to a track, so 9 hours to go drive some more. It did extremely well but for brakes which overheated every session.

      • 0 avatar
        JMII

        “It did extremely well but for brakes which overheated every session.”

        Racing Brake Fluid + pads (EBC Yellows are a good starting point).

        Very few cars have brakes which are up the task on track, including many “sports cars”. For example I’ve seen C7 ‘Vettes cook their brakes on track. Part of problem is lack of cooling (ducts kill valuable MPGs) and the other part is the driver learning how to brake properly. Standard DOT4 brake fluid has too low of a boiling point to use on track.

        • 0 avatar
          brenschluss

          Had Motul 600 but left the stock “performance” pads on, as internet wisdom put their heat tolerance around that of a Hawk HPS / Mountune RS-T or similar, and it was not a high-speed, big braking track.

          Blowing through a $45 set of stock pads and bleeding every session was an acceptable alternative to spending $300 on a set of DTC60s, and I couldn’t find enough info on EBC to trust them. There was one heavy car doing work with Yellowstuff, so I have more confidence in them after seeing that.

          A major issue is that the brakes are never given a chance to rest, particularly on a tighter track, because it’s always nibbling at them in low- to mid-speed corners to aid rotation, which feels nice, and is hilarious on the street, but has thermal side effects. DIY ducting and removal of the dust shields become good ideas.

          As for braking properly, don’t worry, I had adult supervision.

  • avatar
    Kenmore

    I’d love to see an XF-85 in Nitrous Blue.

  • avatar
    ajla

    What about ~$20k the other direction for FoRS versus GT350?

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      I like it! Sounds like a next step review.

      • 0 avatar
        JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

        28, there you are, I’ve been wanting to tell you…

        There is a 3800-powered W-body in my possession, with engine issues!

        2006 Grand Prix. Has right at 200k. It has had overheating issues. I’m replacing the water pump (leaking) and hoping it doesn’t have warped heads or even a blown head gasket. It doesn’t run very well, it takes a couple tries to crank, and then it idles rough and will stall if you don’t keep your foot on the throttle for a bit.

        No coolant present in the oil, or exhaust that I can tell. So, there is hope that it won’t need major repair.

        So far, I plan to replace the plugs, wires, fuel filter and properly clean the MAF and throttle body. A major cooling system flush, of course, along with the water pump. The thermostat was recently replaced by someone else, to no avail. The list may grow as I get deeper into it.

        I didn’t buy it, it was my cousin’s wife’s commuter. But, she’s a stay at home mom now, and her first gen 2wd (if I’m not mistken) Infiniti QX56 is her family hauler of choice. I agreed to do what I can to get the Pontiac good enough for me to put it up for sale. I’ll keep you updated. Say a special prayer to the Church of 3800 for me, that I may be able to save this poor soul.

        If I can’t easily bring it back to good health, I found a same-year parts car, under a grand, with 135k and a failed transaxle. Rather than tear into this engine, I’d rather just swap in a good running, low mileage replacement, and have a late-model GP to part out afterwards to give me something to do and some change in my pocket now and then.

        • 0 avatar
          ajla

          Killing a HG in a 3800 takes a lot of work so it’s probably fine.

          Your list is good. Two other things to check are the coils and vacuum leaks.

        • 0 avatar
          brokeguy

          Make sure that water pump leak isn’t the lower intake manifold gaskets. Those are a known weak spot on the 3800, you will also want to replace the plastic elbows that take water from the water pump into the intake manifold. They will crack and leak coolant onto the water pump and are often the cause of overheating. I would actually check those pieces before touching the water pump. Have a cooling system pressure test done to identify the location of leaks.

          • 0 avatar
            JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

            Thanks for the advice, guys. I was aware of the intake manifold issues, but not specifics.

            *coil pack was replaced with what looks to be a junkyard unit, says “04 G. Prix 3800” written with a paint pen on it.

            GM failed to put a belt diagram under the hood (was the same as ones I saw online of this gen), so I drew one with a Sharpie lol.

            Edit: is this plastic elbow visible? All I see is aluminum. The lower hose that comes from the w. pump and goes to the rad is attached to aluminum, and on the upper side, all I can see is the heater core hoses, also going into an aluminum piece. Is it possible the elbow was replaced with aluminum at some point, or is it just hard to see with the alternator and such in place?
            I have the belt and w.pump pulley off, battery out, coolant resivor out, and fuse box moved out of the way, but nothing else yet.

          • 0 avatar
            JimZ

            “GM failed to put a belt diagram under the hood”

            or the car was in a collision, and when repaired the label was removed. I’ve seen that before.

          • 0 avatar
            JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

            @Jim

            I watched a YouTube video of some guys working on an 06 Grand Prix as well, theirs had no diagram either.

            Besides, the front of this car looks every bit like a not-regularly-washed 200k-mile car from the South East (so no rust, but lots of insect damage as we have acidic “love bugs” around here usually twice a year).

            Oh yeah. After reading my last reply above, I forgot to mention I removed that support brace on that side

  • avatar
    Nostrathomas

    I love the idea of a FiST as a city runabout…and as soon as I can sell my Cayman (to help finance the purchase of a family wagon, ha), that’s probably what I’ll look for.

    I just wish the FiST came with more fun colors (apart from the red/orange one). Nitrous Blue or the Tangerine Scream would be great.

    • 0 avatar
      stuki

      Get a larger NA for the city. City is not the FiST’s long suit by a long stretch. Somewhat unlinear both in torque and backtorque, dead as a doorknob below 2000, then full tq…… 1st is also annoyingly short, with way to much of a gap to 2nd for anything but full throttle redline upshifts. Done for startability for less than experienced 3rd pedalers with the tiny engine, rather than driveability.

      Once into the meat of 2nd, it’s magical. But in dense city traffic, a 5.0, 2.4 Si, 86 or some such can be less aggravating.

  • avatar
    tedward

    There’s nothing like the Fiesta st, except for the mini Cooper s. I’m not saying the mini is better overall or a better value, I’m just saying they occupy the exact same sandbox. We all seem to have forgotten it exists, but it’s still am awesome little car, and it got there first by some margin.

    I’d personally love to see your take on a new copper s vs a stock fist. I wouldn’t be surprised to see you prefer the ford, but it would be a apples to apples showdown between two greats.

    • 0 avatar
      TDIandThen....

      That’s an encouraging comparison. I test drove the Mini-S, and it was the only one of the hatches that felt quick and fun enough to consider, coming from four years of Golf. I consider it too expensive for the space and BMW risk, so it’s off my list. I’ve signed up to test drive the FiST next week.

    • 0 avatar
      krohde

      Except show me the Mini Cooper you get for 20k…does it even have A/C?

  • avatar
    Driver8

    20+K buys a lot of insurance, track days, tires and pads.
    Slow car fast and all that.

  • avatar
    Land Ark

    Awesome comparo. I find I am more of a FoST person because I just can’t get past the cheapness of the FiST interior or the price of the FoRS.

    I have one issue though, “Nitrous Blue is the best paint color available on a mass-produced car, period.”
    You and I couldn’t agree less. I think the shade of blue on the FiST is vastly more pleasing to the eye than the Nitrous. The Nitrous, to me, looks like a color you would get molding some plastic in blue. It has no life and looks chalky.

    In any event, who’da thunk 10 years ago that Ford would be top of the food chain in these categories?

    • 0 avatar
      PenguinBoy

      “In any event, who’da thunk 10 years ago that Ford would be top of the food chain in these categories?”

      It sounds like the FiST is the spiritual successor to original SVT Focus, which would still have been in recent memory 10 years ago. It’s easy to see the current FiST and FoST as an evolution from the earlier car. The FoRS is the next level entirely, but then again, there was a first generation FoRS that was never sold in North America.

    • 0 avatar
      focus-ed

      “In any event, who’da thunk 10 years ago that Ford would be top of the food chain in these categories?”
      It’s all started with Focus SVT (I miss not getting one but ZX3 has served me well). Then there was RS, that’s never made to USA. And then Ford decided not to bring their 2 door models here so I looked elsewhere for a “fix” (though color options were tempting). RS is in crazy money territory (one can get a dd hatch and a proper RWD track vehicle instead) and while it delivers in performance department, maintenance or repairs will come at hefty price tag. Fuel economy is likely way out of hot hatch category as well.

      • 0 avatar
        Zykotec

        Uhm, it started with the Lotus Cortina in 1963. There were some bad ass escort, but after Audi ‘helped’ VW ‘reinvent’ the Mini/Civic in the 70’s, Ford fell behind for a year or two in the public eyes. Then they came back with the XR3 and XR2 in 79/80.
        Volkswagen and Vauxhall/Opel , and some french cars have always been competing with Ford, and sometimes the Fords weren’t the best of the bunch, but they have always made cool small cars , outside the US.
        It’s worth mentioning that most Journalists over here think the Civic Type R makes the FoST seem quite civilized and familyfriendly, although it’s plenty fast.

  • avatar
    Willyam

    The Intangibles category is great. I’m even older (yes, it’s possible with a much less “interesting” lifestyle than Brothers Hoonigan) and I’ve been looking for something that could actually move in traffic amongst the phone-wielding skyjacked masses around here. We have plenty of pavement, and lots of dinosaurs slurping $1.89 fuel and leaving huge holes in traffic that my inherited, puberty-aged SUV cannot exploit.

    I’ve missed my GTi from college, but I’m a little nervous about looking, certainly not successful, but at least like I’m not driving my kids car. Can that be done in a hatch? What about a FiST in black? That price is killer. We also have a great track around here (Hallett) but it’s apparently always booked solid, so I’m not sure I’d ever get much chance to try that out.

    Also, lots of spoiled high-school kids in my exurb town. At this price, I’m wondering if I’m about to see lots of FiST’s impacted into light poles, fences, and buildings (I have stories that would amaze and confuse responsible parents).

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      If you want to look adult in a hatch, the GTI and Golf R are the best choices out there. Much less Fast and Furious than the Fords.

      • 0 avatar
        hubcap

        “If you want to look adult in a hatch, the GTI and Golf R are the best choices out there.”

        Nah.

        If you want to look like an adult, then drive an act like an adult.

        When I see someone constantly darting between lanes, then tailgating the car they eventually end up behind to only dart back to the previous lane…I think that’s a kid.

        If you pull up in a sporty/performance car that stands out (because of color/design etc.), I think that’s someone who likes to drive and someone who buys what they want.

        There is nothing juvenile about a Focus RS/ST or a Fiesta ST. It certainly doesn’t scream old man nor does it shout kid. Yes, it’s an aggressive look that stands out a bit but what’s wrong with that?

        • 0 avatar
          dal20402

          “There is nothing juvenile about a Focus RS/ST or a Fiesta ST.”

          Outside: I agree with you on the ST, but I think the RS looks overdone and immature, and I’d expect a 19-year-old to step out of it.

          Inside: Both cars are so overstyled they make my eyes hurt. Even regular small Fords (including my C-Max) are overdone, but the brighter colors and extra features on the ST/RS just make them look worse. By contrast the Golfs are understated and tasteful and look expensive.

          I guess I’m just too old…

        • 0 avatar
          Kenmore

          “an aggressive look”

          Of what positive use is that on our roads? You rightly trash aggressively juvenile driving behavior but imply that just looking the part is somehow desirable.

          And today even run-of-the-mill B & C segment cars are as aggressively styled as designers can make them. What “stands out” about that?

          • 0 avatar
            Kenmore

            As evidence for my second point:

            i.ytimg.com/vi/vIhorWT6Mj4/maxresdefault.jpg

            See? Only the happy guy 3rd row back stands out.

        • 0 avatar
          ToddAtlasF1

          “If you want to look adult in a hatch, the GTI and Golf R are the best choices out there.”

          Said nobody ever who wasn’t drunk on the VW Kool-Aid. I’m not saying any cheap performance car commands universal respect, but the VWs are no better than Sentras in the eyes of people who read the Economist instead of Shill and Drivel.

          • 0 avatar
            focus-ed

            “but the VWs are no better than Sentras in the eyes of people who read the Economist instead of Shill and Drivel.” – well, some people are fine driving CRV, Trax or Sentra and other drink car kool-aid of choice. BTW, it’s not really likely that Economist readers have particular preference for Sentras, unless they’re doing it wrong.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      My issue with the FoRS is the Golf R.

      Similarly priced (if anything, the Golf R is cheaper after the FoRS markups), and similarly quick in reviews despite the Golf’s spec-sheet power deficit. But the Golf interior looks and feels $10k more expensive than that of the FoRS. And I find the Golf R to look SO MUCH nicer. The screamingly extroverted look of the FoRS is just totally incompatible with my personality.

      I’m sure the FoRS is a better track car, but I don’t have time to drive on track. The only real loss for me would be Sync3, which is easily worth it for a car that blends in instead of shouting.

      EDIT: This was supposed to be an independent comment, not a reply to Willyam. Oops.

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        I haven’t driven any of them, but it seems nearly everyone concludes that the FoRS is considerably more fun to drive than the Golf R. In fact, a lot of reviews have felt that the R isnt really more enjoyable than the GTI.

        • 0 avatar
          hubcap

          Haven’t driven the RS but have driven the R both manual and DSG.

          The R is a nice car but it doesn’t have the eagerness I was expecting. It was a bit too relaxed but when you jump on it it does respond.

          I don’t know if you’ve driven a WRX or an Evolution, but those cars have the sort of eagerness I was expecting from the R.

          Same thing happened when driving Mustangs. Test drove a 2016 against a 2013 Boss 302. The ’16 has the nicer interior and was a nice drive but the Boss was more visceral.

          • 0 avatar
            TDIandThen....

            This is in line with every review I’ve watched / read, that the Golf R is the grown-up version of the hot-hatch. This is not a bad thing and I’m glad it exists. I’m waiting for the Volvo Polestar C-40 in 2018 or 2019 as hopefully a better balance of adulty design and childish performance.

      • 0 avatar
        focus-ed

        “The only real loss for me would be Sync3”. Really? With all the talk of improvement that Sync3 is over previous generations of Ford’s infotainment (that were borderline unusable) any car that comes with carplay or Android auto (and any 2016+ VW does) has this aspect covered. At the end of the day most would prefer just a nicely integrated placeholder for a smartphone of choice (that can be easily upgraded in few years as opposed to dash integrated radio unit).

    • 0 avatar
      hubcap

      I don’t think it will be a problem. I wouldn’t look at you any different but if you’re afraid random people on the roads will look at you having fun driving the car you paid for and think random thoughts such as “he’s so childish” or “is that his kid’s car?” or “is he even successful?”, then by all means you should get a CR-V or RAV-4.

      Certainly the people around you on the roads would consider that the proper, rational, and mature choice.

      I just wonder a) what you’d think? and b) why you care to the point of not buying something that would bring you joy?

    • 0 avatar
      bikegoesbaa

      Why do you care if strangers think you are successful and/or driving your kid’s car?

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    FiST is an awesome car but the complete incompatibility of an infant/rear-facing convertible seat and my 5′ 11″ wife struck it from the list. Even the Focus is pretty poor by that metric. Current GTI, 335i and G37 sedan are where it’s at for young families who need fun.

  • avatar
    Pete Zaitcev

    Meanwhile, the savagegeese review – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=owBCy5g4a9w

  • avatar
    BlythBros

    Solid assessment of the FiST. I bought a Fiesta ST due to the fact that, despite my best efforts, I can’t always keep an Alfa on the road to get to work in the morning. Can’t comment on the FoRS, but some of my thoughts on the Fiesta below

    Aesthetics: Nothing beautiful about the Fiesta, plenty of double chin (better than weak chin) in the front fascia, but overall it’s a decent shape with pleasing proportions, as far as the subcompact class goes. You have to squint to appreciate it. Take that as you will.

    Interior: agree with Bark here, with a few things to note. Materials are durable enough for my 2014 to be in acceptable shape for its age. Only issues I’ve had are the typical squeaky clutch, broken rear cargo cover plastic dowel, and the terrible plastic feel to the steering wheel after a year or so. I’m 6’2″ and I don’t even mind riding in the back (other than the ride…)

    Infotainment: Not sure, commute is 10 minutes. The newer sync looks nice.

    Acceleration: Not super necessary when you enter a cloverleaf above 60mph but yes, you will probably accelerate through the cloverleaf…

    Transmission: Shifter is a overzealous – very easily lands in the anticipated gate with little effort. Light clutch but it works. You’ll downshift to pass just because you can.

    Track driving: did ~50 miles (4 laps) in an RSR car at the Nordschleife in the rain. I’m no track expert but I suspect that it’s a good car to start in. I have limited experience tracking my Alfa Milano Verde – the FiST is probably a better choice for HPDEs.

    Intangibles: Personally I think the ride is pretty rough and do not enjoy traveling long distances in the car. It doesn’t have much of an engine sound or exhaust note. Ford is in the money-making business, so it’s not hard to see and feel how cost-optimized it is. 30mpg commuting is pretty easy. You can have eco or boost, just not both at the same time. I work on old Alfas and the cargo area has held plenty of Alfa V6s and transmissions – very practical in that sense.

    As far as driving pleasure goes, it’s not especially fun to drive slow in and does not feel like anything special until you push it – my 90hp MK1 GTI was a lot more fun to drive in traffic and around town. Driving responsibly on a good back road it’s just as much fun as my original GTI was or my Alfas are. The only modern car I’ve enjoyed more was a new Miata – but the body style and price don’t really allow for a comparison.

  • avatar
    05lgt

    The best thing I can say about the STI is that it *hasn’t* evolved with the rest of the brand for the last 10 years. The FoRS is what the STI should have become by now. But… is the FoRS 10k better than a 2014 GS350? Not for me. Then again, I’m 13 years older than the author, so my needs are different.

  • avatar
    7402

    Please give us more comparisons between cars that do not normally get compared. I do this every time I buy a car, perhaps enabled by being a value buyer rather than a price buyer. Specifically, what I’m getting for my money is more important than the amount of money I’m spending. I had no problem comparing a MINI Cooper S with a Porsche 911 Carrera for example, though everybody gave me a hard time because the P-car was three times as much. One can just as well decide between a biggish station wagon and a smallish minivan, or between a cargo van and a pickup truck. I also freely compare used cars to new ones.

  • avatar
    Kenmore

    Does nobody else think the Angry Munchkin aspect of Bark’s treasures defines him?

  • avatar
    ncwalls

    I bought a new 2013 Focus ST. I recently decided it was time for something different. The Focus RS was the only car that I liked and met all my requirements. I’d really love to try a Fiesta ST but it just doesn’t have quite enough interior space for some stuff I need to haul. The only problem with the RS is that it’s slightly above my budget right now.

    So… I decided to buy a motorcycle instead and hang on to the FoST for a while longer. :)

    Maybe I can find a used FoRS in a few years, though I don’t expect they’ll depreciate very much.

  • avatar
    Wayne

    Maybe it’s wise to buy 2 FiSTs so when one in the shop you can have the other one as a backup?

  • avatar
    ToddAtlasF1

    You mentioned the S2000 in ranking autocross cars. Can you honestly say that the shifter in the Fiesta is in the same universe with the one in an S2000? And how do you gloss over the Eastern Block interior material, finish, and content of the Fiesta? Is the Focus similarly impoverished?

  • avatar
    stanczyk

    Fiesta ST is an example of a traditional, little european hot-hatch .. and it’s one of the best “spiritual succesors” of “pure and simple” cars like .. Golf I GTi, Peugeot 205 GTi or recently, few generations of Renault Clio RS cars(what’s interesting > FiST is considered to be even better than current Renault RS model >)..

  • avatar

    Until the FoRS is available with the usual Ford 10%+ under MSRP discount I’d opt for a WRX STI, in WRB. It’s a good car on a proven platform. I recall it was hangin’ with the exotics in the R&T PCOTY shootout. FHI is still selling all they can make although it seems to have slowed slightly after increasing the price past the $35k otd (in most states) for a shrewdly-negotiated base model

  • avatar
    st1100boy

    I chose options C & D myself: FoST ($21500 after rebate) AND a KTM Super Duke 1290 for less than the price of a FoRS. I’d still really like a FoRS, but I looooooove my Austrian brute.

  • avatar
    Boff

    As terrific as these two Fords are, another Ford, the Mustang GT with performance pack, has them both covered in terms of outright speed and long-haul comfort, sounds fantastic doing so, and is not far behind in practicality.

  • avatar
    StarAZ

    Could you also compared them to the BRZ/86 in terms of transmission, handling and track driving?

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