Did you know there’s more to the 2013 Ford Focus ST than brilliant front-drive handling and loud Tangerine Scream paint? The ST development team also made the right moves with the interior. Let’s touch on two cabin features that stand out.
First: the steering wheel. This circular chunk of leather, metal, and assorted synthetic materials shares a common design with the plebeian Focus. The toggles and buttons for the sound system, cruise control, voice command, and instrument panel display are exactly where you’d expect them. OK, so the ST tiller comes with soft perforated leather and a special rim insert with an ST badge — just in case you forget the car’s identity. But is it really that special?
If you flip through photos of mainstream compact cars’ interiors, you’ll find that only the Focus and Hyundai Elantra are equipped with four-spoke steering wheels. Alternatives like the Chevrolet Cruze, Dodge Dart, Kia Forte (2014 model excluded), and Volkswagen Jetta come with three-spar steering wheels that split the y-axis spoke to varying degrees, marginally mimicking a four-spoke. Many big compacts — Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla included — rolled away from the design phase with a tri-spoke in the bag. The C-segment (and much of the automotive market, in fact) will happily try to sell you on the layout’s inherent sporty demeanor or any other marketing gibberish. The Focus ST’s steering wheel not only shows solidarity with its non-performance brethren, it demonstrates four-spokes can be cool as well.
Second, we turn our attention to the auxiliary gauges. There are three sitting on the dashboard in a tidy mailbox-slit-like array: oil temperature, oil pressure, and turbo boost pressure. It’s all good information to have handy or to show off to your co-riding acquaintances. What’s refreshing is the Focus ST isn’t stingy giving out its vitals. The rivaling Mazdaspeed3 goes without a coolant-temperature readout (only an “idiot” light indicating whether it’s hot or cold) while the Subaru WRX’s factory boost gauge is a standalone accessory.
My initial mental comparison of the Focus ST’s supplementary gauges was to the Volkswagen Beetle Turbo’s similarly placed cluster, which consists of oil temp, boost pressure, and a chronograph. And then I realized why the Ford’s arrangement felt awfully familiar. It conjures pleasant thoughts of the Dodge Stealth R/T Turbo/Mitsubishi 3000GT VR4 and their auxiliary gauge setups — they have three individual pods on top of the center stack. The two twin-turbocharged, all-wheel-drive beasts are quite different from the sprightly Focus ST, but those two had four-spoke steering wheels too.
2013 Ford Focus ST photos by Julia LaPalme.
By Benson Kong