2013 Ford Focus ST Vs 2013 Subaru BRZ Front View

2013 Ford Focus ST Vs 2013 Subaru BRZ 04

2013 Ford Focus ST Vs 2013 Subaru BRZ Rears

2013 Ford Focus ST Vs 2013 Subaru BRZ Front View

See All 45 Photos

2013 Ford Focus ST Vs 2013 Subaru BRZ 04

In our July 2012 issue, we compared two-door performance cars that can be had for under $28,000 to find out which one returns the best driving bang for the buck. In the end, the Subaru BRZ came out on top, beating such greats as the Mustang V-6, the prototypical hot hatch VW GTI, and even the king of the budget sports cars, the Mazda Miata. At the time of the comparison, the Focus ST was still just a blip on the radar, and, because of the two extra doors, would have been a sidebar at best. Now that it’s here, and since the BRZ has conquered the two-door competitors, we wanted to see how these two stack up.

2013 Ford Focus ST Vs 2013 Subaru BRZ Rears

First, the obvious differences between Focus and BRZ: front drive versus rear, four door versus two, turbocharged versus naturally aspirated. On paper, these two enthusiast machines couldn’t be farther apart, but their mission is the same. Both aim to provide the daily driving enjoyment of a far more expensive car without bankrupting the average track-day enthusiast.

2013 Ford Focus ST Vs 2013 Subaru BRZ Front View

The first order of business is determining which is better on the streets. Each car was evaluated over 112 miles of Orange and L.A. County streets and freeways, then we snaked into the Angeles Forest mountains and onto one of the finest driving roads on the planet. Following a thorough real-world evaluation, we spent a day at the Streets of Willow racetrack with pro driver Randy Pobst. Streets is a technical track that offers a good blend of low-speed kinks mixed with two long stretches that allow you to wind the car out. The back straight isn’t about relaxing, however, as it ends in a blind crest with a quick chicane dropping out from under your tires that causes a seat-pucker moment in anything faster than a golf cart.

2013 Ford Focus ST Front View

2013 Ford Focus ST Rear

2013 Ford Focus ST Front Profile

2013 Subaru BRZ Front View In Motion

2013 Subaru BRZ Rear

2013 Subaru BRZ Front Profile

2013 Ford Focus ST Vs 2013 Subaru BRZ 02

2013 Ford Focus ST Vs 2013 Subaru BRZ 03

2013 Ford Focus ST Vs 2013 Subaru BRZ 01

Ford Focus ST

The everyday rally car

2013 Ford Focus ST Front View In Motion

The Ford is the definite extrovert here. The big front valence, the Tangerine Scream paint, and rear wing add up to a look straight out of a WRC stage. The upright seating position, unbelievably quick steering, and the intake noise pumped into the cabin add to the experience. The ST’s turbocharger helps crank out an extra 119 lb-ft of torque over the BRZ’s 151. The pair of 2.0-liters aren’t quite as far apart in power, with the Subaru winding out 200 hp at 7000 rpm, but the Ford’s 252 hp comes at merely 5500 rpm, 900 rpm below the Subaru’s torque peak. The big disparity in motivation is almost matched on our scales. The Subaru weighs just 2754 pounds, while the Ford spins the dial up to 3193.

2013 Ford Focus ST Engine View

On the road, the Focus ST is a bit of a handful. Associate editor Rory Jurnecka noted, “There’s plenty of torque steer, and the steering feels hugely artificial. It seems to get worse with the active torque steer assistance.” The brakes are also grabby and the steering darty, and it’s more addictive than espresso. This is an old-school hot hatch. It’s made for hooning and doesn’t know the meaning of the word compromise. It’s also a little foggy on subtlety, maturity, and, thankfully, understeer.

2013 Ford Focus ST Wheel

In the canyon, the ST turns in ferociously. The quick steering coupled with no perceptible understeer makes you recalibrate your driving style. Flicks of the wrist bend the little hatch around turns like a slot car. So little steering lock is required that it becomes tough to smoothly unwind coming out of tight turns. You end up braking into the turn, getting around it, and then standing on the gas. Getting on the gas early gets the torque vectoring to kick in, grabbing the inside brake, and shooting you toward the inside of the turn, but the torque steer keeps you from unwinding the wheel. You aren’t so much flowing with road as cutting it into sections. Brake, turn, and now accelerate.

2013 Ford Focus ST Nose

2013 Ford Focus ST Pipe

2013 Ford Focus ST Rear Wing

2013 Ford Focus ST Dash View

2013 Ford Focus ST Back Seats

2013 Ford Focus ST Guages

2013 Ford Focus ST Front Seats

2013 Ford Focus ST Dash Clusters

2013 Ford Focus ST Shifters

2013 Ford Focus ST Front

The track allowed us to get further into the Focus ST’s abilities without fear of flight or legal fight. Randy immediately noticed the Ford’s ability to change direction: “I haven’t driven a front-drive race car that rotates like this. I turn it in and let the back end slide around, and then get on the gas when I want to straighten out.”

2013 Ford Focus ST Randy Pobst

The car just doesn’t understeer — the faster you turn in, the faster it rotates. It definitely has a learning curve, and I imagine quite a few STs will be wadded up by novice drivers, but it is certainly rewarding.
We all were impressed right up to the point when the car started overheating. We had noticed the oil temperature gauge creeping up in the canyon, but didn’t think much of it. On the track, however, the oil gauge continued to climb until the coolant temp started climbing as well.

We were still able to get a clean lap out of the ST, clicking off a 1:29.27 time. The term “best-handling front-drive ever” kept circling the pits among the drivers.

2013 Ford Focus ST Engine

2013 Ford Focus ST Recaro Stitching

2013 Ford Focus ST Screen

2013 Ford Focus ST Seat Details

2013 Ford Focus ST Steering Wheel

2013 Ford Focus ST Dash Guages

Subaru BRZ

It’s 90 percent exotic

2013 Subaru BRZ Front

The more astute readers have probably already noticed that this is, in fact, our long-term BRZ. Over the past few months, we’ve been impressed with how comfortable and easy it is to drive on the street. The seating position is all sports car. Driving next to big rigs eyeball to axle feels a bit less secure than in the upright ST, but in the canyons, the BRZ is more Le Mans racer to the Focus’ rally car. Steering wheel, shifter, and pedals are all exactly where you want them and operate in the same intuitive manner. While we kept trying to get the seat and steering wheel right in the Focus, everything just falls into place in the BRZ.

2013 Subaru BRZ Side View

Corners are combined into one carving motion like stretching a string up and down the mountain’s curves. It feels like a 9/10ths-scale front-engine Ferrari as it dances from apex to apex. The Ford is faster, but the Subaru moves around with balanced sliding motions — no drifting, just enough rotation to let you know it’s alive and you’re actually driving. In direct contrast to the Ford’s, the steering here communicates everything the front tires are doing; the brakes are easy to modulate; even the notchiness of the shifter adds to the mechanical romance of the BRZ.

2013 Subaru BRZ Dash

2013 Subaru BRZ Back Seat

2013 Subaru BRZ Dash Guages

2013 Subaru BRZ Wheel

2013 Subaru BRZ Engine View

2013 Subaru BRZ Randy Pobst

2013 Subaru BRZ Wheel View

2013 Subaru BRZ Front Seats

2013 Subaru BRZ Dash Cluster

Randy fell in love with the BRZ during our $28K comparison, and absence had only made his heart grow fonder. “What a great little car. So balanced. So intuitive.” His lap time was noticeably slower in the BRZ at 1:30.32, but that didn’t necessarily make it any less fun. Surprisingly, the BRZ feels more stable than the front-drive Ford. You can position it more easily, and it isn’t so harrowing. The Ford would be tough to wrangle at the limit with other cars around, where you feel like you could squeeze between two cars while drifting the BRZ.

2013 Subaru BRZ Shifter

In the end, the champ drives off with another title. We regard the Focus ST as one of the best examples of front-drive cars North America has ever seen, but we can’t get past its lack of steering feel, torque-steer, and boy-racer attitude. We think it’s one hell of a deal if you buy the base car without all the toys. Our tester was $28,170 with the slightly disappointing Recaro seats and the troublesome Sync infotainment system that crashed and required rebooting on three occasions during our time with the car. The BRZ came in at $28,265, just $95 dearer than the Ford. If it were my money, I would probably stick with the base car here as well, skipping the leather and the rear spoiler. From the artificial steering to the piped-in engine noise, the Focus is definitely built for the video-game generation who may not know or appreciate what a true sports car feels like. We hope they can give the lower horsepower and less flashy Subaru a chance and discover what it’s like to connect with a car.

Ford Focus ST Subaru BRZ Streets Of Willow Track Map


  2013 Ford Focus ST 2013 Subaru BRZ
POWERTRAIN/CHASSIS
DRIVETRAIN LAYOUT Front engine, FWD Front engine, RWD
ENGINE TYPE Turbocharged I-4, aluminum block/head Flat-4, aluminum block/heads
VALVETRAIN DOHC, 4 valves/cyl DOHC, 4 valves/cyl
DISPLACEMENT 122.0 cu in/1999 cc 121.9 cu in/1998 cc
COMPRESSION RATIO 9.3:1 12.5:1
POWER (SAE NET) 252 hp @ 5500 rpm 200 hp @ 7000 rpm
TORQUE (SAE NET) 270 lb-ft @ 2500 rpm 151 lb-ft @ 6400 rpm
REDLINE 6500 rpm 7450 rpm
WEIGHT TO POWER 12.7 lb/hp 13.7 lb/hp
TRANSMISSION 6-speed manual 6-speed manual
AXLE/FINAL-DRIVE RATIO 4.06:1/3.83:1 4.10:1/3.14:1
SUSPENSION, FRONT; REAR Struts, coil springs, anti-roll bar; multilink, coil springs, anti-roll bar Struts, coil springs, anti-roll bar; multilink, coil springs, anti-roll bar
STEERING RATIO 13.7-10.1:1 13.1:1
TURNS LOCK-TO-LOCK 1.8 2.5
BRAKES, F;R 12.6-in vented disc; 10.6-in disc, ABS 11.6-in vented disc; 11.6-in vented disc, ABS
WHEELS 8.5 x 18-in, cast aluminum 7.0 x 17-in, cast aluminum
TIRES 235/40R18 95Y Goodyear Eagle F1 215/45R17 87W Michelin Primacy HP
DIMENSIONS
WHEELBASE 104.3 in 101.2 in
TRACK, F/R 61.2/60.4 in 59.8/60.6 in
LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT 171.7 x 71.8 x 58.4 in 166.7 x 69.9 x 50.6 in
TURNING CIRCLE 39.4 ft 35.4 ft
CURB WEIGHT 3193 lb 2754 lb
WEIGHT DIST, F/R 60/40% 55/45%
SEATING CAPACITY 5 4
HEADROOM, F/R 38.3/37.9 in 37.1/35.0 in
LEGROOM, F/R 41.9/33.2 in 41.9/29.9 in
SHOULDER ROOM, F/R 55.6/53.7 in 53.1/45.3 in
CARGO VOLUME 23.8 cu ft 6.9 cu ft
TEST DATA
ACCELERATION TO MPH
0-30 2.4 sec 2.3 sec
0-40 3.4 3.3
0-50 4.5 4.8
0-60 5.9 6.4
0-70 7.8 8.5
0-80 9.7 10.8
0-90 12.4 13.9
0-100 15.9 17.4
PASSING, 45-65 MPH 3 3.4
QUARTER MILE 14.6 sec @ 95.9 mph 15.0 sec @ 93.0 mph
BRAKING, 60-0 MPH 112 ft 120 ft
LATERAL ACCELERATION 0.96 g (avg) 0.90 g (avg)
MT FIGURE EIGHT 25.4 sec @ 0.70 g (avg) 26.3 sec @ 0.68 g (avg)
1.55-MI ROAD COURSE LAP 01:29.3 01:30.3
TOP-GEAR REVS @ 60 MPH 2350 rpm 2600 rpm
CONSUMER INFO
BASE PRICE $24,495 $26,265
PRICE AS TESTED $28,170 $28,265
STABILITY/TRACTION CONTROL Yes/yes Yes/yes
AIRBAGS Dual front, f/r side, f/r curtain Dual front, front side, f/r curtain, driver knee
BASIC WARRANTY 3 yrs/36,000 mi 3 yrs/36,000 mi
POWERTRAIN WARRANTY 5 yrs/60,000 mi 5 yrs/60,000 mi
ROADSIDE ASSISTANCE 5 yrs/60,000 mi 3 yrs/36,000 mi
FUEL CAPACITY 12.4 gal 13.2 gal
EPA CITY/HWY ECON 23/32 mpg 22/30 mpg
ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY 147/105 kW-hrs/100 mi 153/112 kW-hrs/100 mi
CO2 EMISSIONS 0.74 lb/mi 0.78 lb/mi
RECOMMENDED FUEL Unleaded premium Unleaded premium

By Michael Febbo

Related Posts

image-804

NHTSA launches investigations into Ford Crown Victoria police cars, Dodge Viper and Porsche 911

Posted on 23 October 2013

Reuters reports that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is investigating certain Ford Crown Victoria, Porsche 911 and Dodge Viper models for potential defects. NHTSA is currently looking into 2005-2008 Crown Victoria police car models ...

image-862

Watch the Hennessey Ford GT makes its record run at Texas Mile

Posted on 22 October 2013

We said they'd probably be out with an official video, we did not lie. The Hennessey-powered camouflage Ford GT sat at one end of the runway at the Texas Mile sitting still. At the other ...

image-770

AAA Says Voice-to-Text Functions are Distracting

Posted on 22 October 2013

Hands-free technology might make it easier to text, talk on the phone, or look up directions while driving, but the AAA Foundation ...