Once upon a time there was a family of three bears who decided to get out of the porridge business by opening up a car dealership—with a twist. Here, under the fluttering flags of Three-Bruin Motors, Papa Bear sold Mazdas, Mama Bear sold Volkswagens, and Baby Bear sold Fords.
One day, a little blond girl by the name of Goldilocks wandered into the showroom.
“Your face looks familiar,” Papa Bear growled.
“Um,” Goldilocks said, “I’m sure that’s just a coincidence. Anyway, I’m in the market for a sporty hatchback. What do you have?”
She tried the Mazdaspeed3: too hot! She tried the Volkswagen GTi: too cold! Then she tried the Ford Focus ST.
Baby Bear ran through the pitter-patter. Based on the regular four-door Focus, the ST is a Euro-style hatchback that’s finally like all the fast Fords we’ve envied from across the Atlantic. It takes the basic, sensible layout of the original and drops in a 252-horsepower 2.0L turbo-charged engine. Then Ford’s engineers drop the already-nimble chassis on a lowered sport suspension over not-overlarge 18” alloys shod in ultra sticky Goodyear summer tires.
“Sounds great!” Goldilocks said, “but what about putting all that power down to the front wheels? That Mazdaspeed3 was all over the place.”
Well, Baby Bear explained, the Focus ST has a pair of clever electronic aids to help keep things buttoned down. Along with the usual traction control you get in everything these days, the ST has something called Enhanced Torque Vectoring that can apply the brakes to keep a spinning tire from wrenching at the steering wheel. It also has Curve Control-
“Oh yeah,” said Goldilocks, “I have a pair of those. They’re made by Spanx.”
Uh . . . no, Baby Bear continues, this is a cornering aid that can help keep the car on-track through the corner by again braking an inside wheel to help increase turn-in and fight understeer. If you put the car in Sport Mode, it’ll even have a tiny bit of lift-off oversteer like a real sportscar.
“Seems a bit artificial,” Goldilocks said, frowning sceptically, “And what’s with this sound-symposer thingy?”
It’s just a way to have a bit more engine growl in the cabin, Baby Bear explains, the regular Focus is very quiet, and even BMW’s M5 has something similar. Besides, the car is very smooth as a commuter if you’re not driving it hard, and the EcoBoost engine even returns decent fuel economy. And if you want, it’ll run on regular gas!
“It’s manual-transmission only though, right?” said Goldilocks, “And I’ve read that this Sync system for my phone can be a bit clunky.”
Baby Bear admits that the Sync system, while improved, is not quite as good as it could be. He then suggests taking the Focus for a test-drive—why not? On their return, Goldilocks is impressed.
“Wow!” she says, “Unlike the Mazda, this thing never cuts the boost, and it’s much wilder than the GTi—a bit less buttoned-down.”
Great! Baby Bear smells a deal. Why don’t we go back and look at some figures?
“Oh no,” says Goldilocks, “I can’t afford this. As a professional house-sitter, I only make about twenty-thousand dollars a year. I just thought it would be fun to go on a few drives. No hard feelings, right?”
And at that point, all three Bears recognized her. It was about time for lunch anyway.
2013 Ford Focus ST
Base Price: $27,519
Price as Tested: $33,049
Brendan McAleer is a freelance auto-writer based out of North Vancouver, BC, and a member of the Automotive Journalists Association of Canada. His work appears in BBCAutos, Road&Track, Autos.ca and elsewhere. Follow him on twitter @brendan_mcaleer.