Car and Driver – “The new Benchmark in Performance Compacts”
Car and Driver magazine has been making stabs back into the enthusiast market with their “Save the Manuals” campaign. The new Focus fits into that mold thanks to only being offered with a brilliant 6-speed manual transmission.
C&D reports that after their first taste of the “tail-happy chassis tuning and electronic wizardy of the torque-steer compensation…” they’re fully sold on how the system has been tweaked to offer better steering response and a tighter gearchange.
“Consider the Recaros [as part of the ST2 or ST3 package] mandatory,” says C&D. We all know a good enthusiastic drive is made better by having more confidence when cornering; confidence that can be bolstered by body-hugging seats that keep your butt planted in said corners. The heavily bolstered Recaros are there to do that job in both partial leather (ST2) and full leather (ST3) trims.
Compared to the GTI and Mazdaspeed 3, C&D had this to say
“The Focus, then, exploits some of that weakness. Where the GTI can be criticized — a softness in suspension and brakes when pushed hard, some lack of power — the ST simply cannot. And where the Mazdaspeed shows its rough edges — wheel-wrestling torque steer and a harsh ride — the ST is smooth.”