Fiesta ST vs the Focus ST

Discussion in 'Fiesta ST News and Reviews' started by Tom Brooks, Feb 19, 2014.

  1. graynicolas11

    graynicolas11 Active Member

    When I first was looking at purchasing a new car I wanted the Focus ST was #1 on my list but both dealers here didn't have any but the last dealer I checked did have the Fiesta ST so I took it for a drive and fell in love. While getting my oil changed the other day, the dealer let me take a Focus ST out just so I could compare the 2 and I'm happy to say I don't regret my decision taking the Fiesta. The Focus honestly didn't feel any faster, felt bulkier (I know it Is a bigger car), the noise it makes isn't half as good as the noise the Fiesta makes and the seats were rock hard, even the salesman that came with me complained about them. The other issue I had was anytime shifting from 2nd, 4th or 6th, I would bump my elbow off the arm rest, could find that becoming annoying quickly. That said I do still love the look of the Focus's.
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  3. Tom Brooks

    Tom Brooks Member

    Right! Which is why the 2012 National Rally circuit dropped the Focus ST in their line up for the Fiesta ST platform... because it was more like a trainer plane. I think not! Bottom line is the Fiesta ST can handle the same power output as the Focus but the base platform is more agile and weighs like 500lbs less. A no brainer for competitive motor sports. The future is light weight agile cars. The Focus ST just found that out the hard way.
  4. captainmorbid

    captainmorbid Active Member

    Yet the focus outsells the fiesta by a wide margin, so far.

    Sent via poles, wires and telegraph 2.
  5. bigshotdan

    bigshotdan Active Member

    Try telling that to the Focus RS... :p
  6. graynicolas11

    graynicolas11 Active Member

    focus has also been around for quite a while longer lol
    SpaceFish likes this.
  7. EBinVA

    EBinVA Member

    If you're talking about Fiesta rallycars like Ken Block's or Tanner Foust's then it's absurd and utterly misleading to lump them in with production models. They're AWD with a different power plant, completely different front and rear suspensions, massively wider tracks, which changes just about everything in the way the car handles and applies power. They're Fiestas only in name and maybe the basic shape of the car but everything else is completely different.

    Stock Fiestas also have a torsion beam rear suspension which basically wrecks alignment options and in the case of the Fiesta ST and it's factory spec alignment seriously hamstrings the car's ability to rotate properly on hard cornering. Nissan had the same kind of thing with the older Sentras that required having the beam bent in order to achieve proper toe for good performance driving and the mkIV VWs were performance shitshows in part because of how the torsion beam skewed suspension geometry. I absolutely hate this suspension design. Coming from VWs I knew what I was getting into and I'd just forgotten how painful it really is. People like to say that it's a FWD car so the rear suspension isn't too important but those people are deluded. While the rear of the car does mostly just play catch up, it is still responsible for managing some weight and it does have to manage that load properly. IMO Torsion beam style suspensions do not do this for motorsports/performance driving. There's a reason why big racing teams like Realtime cut the torsion beam out of their RSXs and designed their own real IRS for them 8-10 years ago before switching the the TSX platform (which they almost certainly did because the suspension geometry and chasis were that much better despite being heavier).

    The Fiesta ST is not some holy grail of performance or some outstanding sports car (and neither is the Focus ST for that matter... it's simply a bigger, better and faster sporty econo-box). It's an exciting econo-box with sporty options: cheap, efficient, and fun to drive. The Focus will almost certainly outperform it in most performance tests and real-world performance applications as it has substantially better suspension geometry and a better motor with more power out of the box and more potential. Just because it's heavier doesn't necessarily mean it's more sluggish. In fact, my experience autocrossing both cars so far has me wishing I'd bought a Focus instead. It's much easier to drive, it rotates way better than the Fiesta right out of the box, and as a person who autocrosses a lot and has driven both cars, it's a superior car for stock class competition at least.

    ***EDIT: I realize this post probably sounds really negative, possibly condescending, and may come off as me bashing the Fiesta ST. That isn't what I meant to do by any means and I love my Fiesta, it's a blast to drive. There's nothing wrong with it being "inferior" to any other car, especially it's big brother. I just think it's a bad idea to expect more from the Fiesta than what it actually has to offer or to embellish what it's capable of. It's a very fun, engaging, quick, and responsive car to drive for sure.
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2014
  8. Cligedy

    Cligedy Active Member

  9. bigshotdan

    bigshotdan Active Member

    I'm surprised you say the Focus would be a better drive. I don't know how different the US cars are compared to the Euro-spec cars we have in Oz, but I can say that there's no way a Focus will live with a Fiesta through any corner. The bigger car has the edge (a fairly decent one, to be fair) in straight line performance, but once you come to a corner, that's where the FiST shines...
  10. EBinVA

    EBinVA Member

    It might feel that way (when I test drove both I definitely thought the Fiesta felt more raw and responsive but of course those were dealer test drives and not actual performance situations so there isn't much to be gleaned from them other than how the car feels, which can be different from what it is actually doing), but the Focus has substantially better suspension design and working geometry. The difference that a wider track and much better weight management makes cannot be underestimated. Maybe the Euro Spec of both models is substantially different than the US spec.

    Don't get me wrong here, I'm not trying to bash the Fiesta or say that it's lame or boring because it is a seriously fun car to drive. I bought it because it just feels fun as hell to drive and on track it begs to be driven at 11/10. I don't regret my purchase on fun factor, but I'm pretty sure I won't be able to compete with the Focus ST in autocross events.
  11. McRib 1s Back

    McRib 1s Back Well-Known Member

    This is an interesting thread! I've driven a Focus ST -- in fact, it was a Mountune MP275! That thing has great power and humbles the FiST in acceleration. I will drive it on a future track day, back-to-back with my FiST, at some point. Maybe I'll be faster in that car.

    I'll also add that it's the far superior daily driver. It's better at everything except handling, steering feel, and braking (yes, really). I'm no stranger to torsion beams (my beloved SE-R comes to mind), and that car startled many a superior car.

    I'll just say it straight out -- I haven't seen a faster Focus on the track. Some of the Focus guys came out, and they kept it sporting. The fastest one was meaningfully slower than our fastest FiST. With such a superior platform, we should have plenty of fast examples, no?

    We've invited them before, and I'll extend the invitation -- join us at any local track, and I'll gladly help with the comparo. :)
  12. wash

    wash Active Member

    I'm not yet convinced that the 2.0 has more potential than the 1.6.
  13. EBinVA

    EBinVA Member

    The autocross guys are having the opposite results, we're getting smoked by Focuses and Celicas left, right, and center so far. Now clearly all different forms of motorsports are different and place different demands on vehicles, which is why cars that are exceptional for one type of racing may not be competitive at all in other types of racing. That said, the Fiesta at a glance should be an autocross beast because it's light, responsive, and has a wide powerband to work with. In practice though we're having a lot of trouble with the rear of the car coming around and finding it practically impossible to get rotation out of, at least in stock class. So far I think this is directly related to the torsion beam, which is part of why I'm harping on it so much as a major limitation for the Fiesta compared to the Focus (or to the Celica GT that is also extremely competitive/national championship calibre in SCCA GS autocross that utilizes a double wishbone rear suspension).

    Torsion beam cars are great for normal road cars. They're extremely simple suspensions that are nearly impossible to break. They're rugged, reliable, and minimize the number of individual moving parts making for easy upkeep. They won't ever be pushed beyond their limits or be called upon for extreme performance situations on public roads or during normal driving. They're also extremely cheap/cost-efficient to build, which is why you see them on economy cars but practically never on anything else. But when do you see them on actual sports cars? Where are they in serious racing applications? By the very nature of the torsion beam style suspension design it will be a choke point for performance because it limits options and stifles adaptability while struggling to deal with aggressive weight transfers in an efficient manner and skewing suspension geometry under heavy load.

    Did you ever have the beam bent in your SE-R? If you did then you must know exactly how night and day the difference is once it's done and the rear of the car has proper toe for a performance application. A buddy of mine ran an old 200xs SE-R for years in autox and when he finally got his bent it felt almost like he had bought a new car. The idea that you have to literally bend the rear suspension in a way it wasn't intended to be bent in order to properly adjust the rear suspension and provide even a slight change in rear alignment to make the car turn is just ludicrous to me.

    Again, I don't mean to come off as bashing the Fiesta ST, I just think it's important to recognize that the car has it's flaws and some of them are major hindrances to it's high performance capability. I'm pretty happy with mine all things considered. It's a hell of a fun car to drive and damn good looking, plus who can complain about 36-38mpg to boot? I'm just pretty adamant that it's not an actual sports car (neither is the Focus) and when compared directly to the Focus, I have a hard time seeing any advantage in the Fiesta other than being lighter. The Focus has substantially better suspension and a stronger motor. I do hate the disconnected feeling of the steering in the Focus a lot though, it is really deceptive and makes the car feel a lot less responsive than it actually is. you may be asking yourself why I even bought a Fiesta if I'm being so critical of it at this point and that's fair. I bought the Fiesta because it feels much more fun to drive than the Focus, even if it isn't quite as fast. I didn't feel like the Focus was worth the extra few thousand bucks to me (and the deal I got on my Fiesta was absurd... I paid under invoice for it) and I still stand by that. If I was buying a car strictly for autocross then yes, I wish I had bought a Focus instead (but if I was buying a dedicated racing machine for autox or something else I wouldn't even be considering any FWD econo-box when an S2000, STI, etc could be bought used for less than either the Focus or Fiesta new). Overall package as an only car though, I'm pretty sure I made the right choice. I've been a little bummed about the car this past couple of days because I got absolutely slaughtered by a Focus at an autocross again this past weekend and it's starting to get a little old.
  14. c-not-k

    c-not-k New Member

    The beam axle in the Fiesta ST was set with less negative camber than the stock Fiesta to give it that "lively" feeling (encouraging more oversteer.)
  15. limbo

    limbo Active Member

    I don't know that we can say yet that the focus is faster for auto-x. I was hanging with them at Dixie in gs with only wheels and tires and I'm new to national events. They've had more time to develop and tune the chassis, have better bars and shocks available. It will be interesting to see how it shakes out but I think the fist could still be competitive nationally
    Smokin and Cligedy like this.
  16. McRib 1s Back

    McRib 1s Back Well-Known Member

    Thank you for your carefully considered response. I appreciate your perspective and I think you've finally found a bit of balance in your tone. Frankly, you did come off harshly. I get that you're frustrated. You sounded more like a Focus ST troll than a Fiesta ST fan.

    You've probably figured out that most of us here have been around the block. I've had about 30 cars in the last 20 years and if you do a quick search on the forum, you'll see that's pretty much par for the course here. We're a pretty educated group of guys and gals and enjoy friendly discussion. This board is a LOT different than other boards -- and that's the reason why I hang out here, and ONLY here! I don't have time for the garbage and brand chest beating you'll find nearly everywhere else. So, it's a little hard to hear loud and seemingly unqualified complaints from the latest new guy. That was you. You've shared more, and we get where you're coming from. Heck, you make some really valid points that we can discuss, too.

    Let's talk about our little Fiesta ST! Why would someone with a history of high performance car ownership like such a crappy econo-box like this? You touched on the magical quality of fun. Most modern cars simply don't have it. The one thing that's been debated here is the virtue of simply having a modern lightweight car -- not power-to-weight (which isn't bad either). FWD cars are cheerfully referred to as "wrong wheel drive" around here. This car single-handedly changed my views on FWD. I swore them off just several years ago. This car is more fun than my 2013 Audi S5 -- not better, not faster, just more fun. It's a more balanced car than my 2013 370Z, easier to drive at the limit, and therefore more accessible fun. It happens to be practical too (though I'm doing my best to ruin that!). :)

    The torsion beam is certainly a compromise. I tend to see the positive stuff here -- it's tough and mechanically simple. On FWD it's less critical (i.e., I think there are enough other shortcomings/compromises to worry about before needing independent rear suspension). Have you tried adding a rear sway bar? This setup really makes the car feel neutral, if not tending toward oversteer. I bought this car KNOWING I'd modify it. If you will never modify it, you may not be happy with it -- but plenty of other people are.

    I'm focusing on these qualities for what I'm after, and that's track days and canyon runs. I've added a little more power, a bit more traction, and reduced more weight. These are modest applications. I'm even flirting with the idea of making this a dedicated race car. Yup, I like it that much.

    We run local tracks here in SOCAL and see a good demographic representation of people and their cars. I'm really just an intermediate guy, but have a lot of experience with motorcycles, high-speed truck/Jeep driving off-road, and naturally, canyon runs. I'm still learning how to drive this little guy properly! I've shared my experiences against a similar field and that's what I referenced. There's some video in the links for our "Road Race" section and others, in different threads; we're not being embarrassed. In fact, we're hanging with some pretty good hardware, driven pretty well! Holding our own to say the least.

    In the past, I did a fair bit of auto-x. It's fun, but I was never all that accomplished. Three or four 30 second runs and working the course was not my idea of a good time. That's how I got into track days. It's what I like. There are others here that tend to only like auto-x, and they're looking pretty competitive too.

    Oh hey, welcome to the board, new guy. :)
    EBinVA and Cligedy like this.
  17. McRib 1s Back

    McRib 1s Back Well-Known Member

    If you measure potential as the ability to make more horsepower, it's pretty clear -- the 2.0 has more potential. It's not that difficult. The 2.0 is an equally modern motor, not some primitive power plant. If you have the time and money to make a high specific output version of our motor that simply makes more power than some/most 2.0s, that still doesn't prove that the 1.6 has more potential.

    Mountune builds very high end 1.6 and 2.0s for full race applications. Even for 60K British Pounds, that 1.6l race motor will fall short of what that money does for the 2.0. Plus, what's the sense in debating ultimate builds on a little econobox?! ;)

    Remember, it's lightweight fun not specific output that makes our cars big fun!
  18. EBinVA

    EBinVA Member

    No worries, I wasn't trying to be harsh or troll. I really do sincerely apologize if that's the way I've come off so far! I post in the autocross section of this board a bit but haven't really ventured out of there until now.

    I think you've got it just right when it comes to what the car does for a person, it isn't necessarily about the outright capabilities of the car nearly so much as how the car makes you feel. I can tell my posts were extremely critical and didn't really paint a picture of what I actually like about my car and that's a big mistake on my part. I have a ton of fun driving my little Fiesta, that's why I bought it. I outright chose it over a Focus ST when the time came (and I went to the dealership looking to buy the Focus, I was unaware the Fiesta ST had even come out yet!) and I don't regret my decision. I'm frustrated with the torsion beam because it looks like it's proving to be a massively limiting factor at least as far as autocross is concerned and with each other torsion beam equipped car I've owned (couple of VWs and an RSX) that's been par for the course as well. The nearest track to me is VIR and it's 4 hours away but I can autocross every single weekend without going more than 45 minutes one way, so I stick mostly to autox with a fun track weekend thrown in every now and then. The setup for an autocross car is pretty substantially different to that of a track car too, I remember taking my S2000 that was built for STR class autocross to VIR a few years back and having to disconnect my rear sway bar just tame the oversteer to a manageable level yet on an autox course it almost pushed too much.

    I'm hesitant to say the Fiesta isn't meeting my expectations because it's an utter blast to drive every single time I sit in it and go somewhere. I don't like how it's doing on the autox front at the moment, but I don't think that's a lost cause either. After all it's a very new car to the US and it takes some time to really learn the car (I'm certain that I can drive it better than I have been so far as well) plus some time for the aftermarket to start getting proper parts out there to help remedy it's deficiencies. Speaking of rear sway bars and being a new car to the NA market, there doesn't seem to be a very stiff/aggressive one out there yet that's readily available but I'm sure there will be soon enough. I haven't personally tried a rear bar yet but at least one of the autox guys (Des) has the Eibach bar and he's been reporting that it doesn't help very much. A couple of us are wondering if it's an alignment issue and if that proves true it'll be a bummer because it'll be the torsion beam directly stopping us from getting the right settings while staying within the laws of SCCA stock/street class autocross. we haven't had anyone experiment with new shocks yet though, which could certainly help a lot. I personally feel that the stock shocks are a little undervalved for the stock springs (thus the bouncy feeling and taking an extra bit of time to settle the car after quickly loading one side of the car) so this could be a huge improvement.

    Again, I'm really sorry if I offended anyone, that wasn't my intent. I'm not trolling, I drive a Fiesta just like everyone else here and I love the car quite a bit.
    k757, Firesail and McRib 1s Back like this.
  19. McRib 1s Back

    McRib 1s Back Well-Known Member

    It sounds like you're a good man. I often fail to convey my intended message in writing, so no worries. I'm glad you're okay with everything. :)

    Briefly, back to the car setup...

    These cars are definitely sensitive to alignment! I posted in my first track day (or was that the wheel/tire setup) thread about this. I'm running precisely -2.8 degrees in the front (with me in the driver's seat). That required camber bolts, of course (and probably not kosher in your class). I also think increasing toe-out makes the car have less torque steer and helps turn-in. As you know, a quality alignment can make a big difference. Anyhow, I'm pretty sure the auto-x guys have here have this covered nicely. I'm not going to hijack this thread; you'll find a few existing alignment threads...
  20. Slowclimb

    Slowclimb Active Member

    It is too early to see where this car will fall out next to the focus in autocross....give it a season with some people who have the ability and maybe we can learn how to set the car up.
  21. hyatt

    hyatt Active Member

    I just drove a FiST, a FoST, and a Mazdaspeed 3 back to back. The FoST was the least engaging out of all of them. The FiST is so sharp and willing and fun, the Speed 3 feels like a freight train when it comes on boost, but the FoST just didn't do it for me. The only thing I liked better about it over the FiST was the shifter placement. It was a really interesting experience.
    spangenb likes this.

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