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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
jtswank's 2013 TB Focus ST3 - "Symbiont"

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Took delivery on 1/16/2013 in the rain with water logged roads and temps in the upper 40's. I was a bit apprehensive with the summer tires, but impressed with how well it performed. Later the next day we had a huge snowstorm (about 8- 9 inches) so I had no time to really drive it until I unburried it on Friday - first real dry pavement driving was yesterday. Pictures attached.


I've posted the order info for reference for those still waiting for their ST.


Order Date = 11/8/12
VIN = 11/27/12
Window Sticker Visible = 12/15/12
First Build Date = 12/22/12
Second Build Date = 12/24/12
Final Build Date = 1/2/13
Etis Update (initial with build date only visible) = 1/4/13
Etis Update with full info correct as ordered = 1/5/13
ETA = 1/16/13
Arrived at dealer = 1/15/13
Took Delivery = 1/16/13



Only issue I could identify was the hood gap disparity from left to right (you can see it more clearly on my avatar pic (above) where the first snowfall really made me take notice of it). The pictures after snow cleared show the adjustment I made to lower the right side of the hood. I still think the hood sits up too high in the middle, but that would require messing with the hood latch (which I read about on this forum elsewhere) but I haven't been up for that yet.

Initial impressions:

Overall build quality looks good and comparable to the Focus SE we own. Tail lights are positioned properly but will keep a close eye on those. They seem to be in the same position as the 2012 SE and we've had no problems with paint scratching on that Focus after one year. Only issue was the hood gap as noted above ... everything else seems to be in place with no defects.

The ride is excellent - a bit bumpy with rough winter roads, gravel and such, as well as the summer tires - but not as smooth as the SE (which would be expected given the difference in tires and suspension between the two). As always with the Focus, the stability and balance and the cornering are amazing for a car in this price range. Obviously, the ST expands on what I experienced with the SE. Love it.

Power is good, but I haven't pushed it much beyond 5,000 rpms because of the cold temps, the new engine and the fear of losing grip with these summer tires on hard cold pavement. That will come later. I love this transmission. Just so amazing to be able to pretty much drive in any gear and get all that torque throughout the rpm range. I feel most comfortable with the control in these cooler temps keeping it between 2500 and 3500 rpms.

For those debating ST1 v ST2 v ST3 ... the leather heated recaro seats are the bomb. I thought based on what everyone was posting that the shoulders and neck support would be too tight, but these seats are near perfect (I'm about 5'11"). Only tight area for me is upper thighs, but I imagine that will loosen up with time. And they look amazing as well. I'm neutral where the HIDs are concerned, but love the LED eyebrows. And you get the ambient lighting as bonus with the ST3 package so to me, the decision was well worth it.

I've been through all of the set up (and had time sitting in the car with all the snow to play with this stuff) with the Sirius, Sync, MFT, etc. enough to say that its solid. Not great, but solid. I will say this - the ST is my 3rd Ford vehicle with Sync and they just keep gettin better with each update, upgrade, etc. The effectiveness of Sync has as much to do with your phone capababilty and compatabilty as the software, but so far with my Samsung Infuse everything, including bitstreaming through bluetooth, works like a charm. The only thing I hven't played with yet is the Nav, but I don't use Nav much anyway so will report on that later. One thing though, the Nav screen is nowhere near as good as the one I have in the 2010 F150. To me, its something that came with what I wanted to get the leather seats, so I'm indifferent. No drop outs on the screen yet though so that's good.

Since I'm a bit of an audiophile I'll comment on the sony system - its solid but not great. Its a compromise I guess - similar to what I feel about the system in my F150. Its frankly better than I thought it would be so that's a plus.

Mods:

So far I plan to change out the wheels and tires for the rest of the winter and early spring because I don't feel confident on these summer tires in temps less than 30. Plus, as you guys can see, we still get some snow here, although that's not my primary reason for changing out. I went with the wheel/tire package below from tirerack - my goal to keep everything as close as possible to factory set up, but make it easier to swap out.

Michelin Pilot Alpin PA3 235/40R18
Sport Edition 18 x 8 A7 silver rims
TPMS x 4

These to be put on later this week when they arrive.
I'm indifferent about the RMM at this point as I'm not planning on drag racing or tracking this vehicle. For my style of driving, where I like to short shift 1-2 and wind out the upper gears, the OEM mount seem fine, but I'll hold out completely on this issue until I start running it into the red later on.

And last but not least, no problems getting the front bracket in place yesterday (as depicted above).


New rims and winter tires...

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Your black car turned to white in that first picture. Congrats on your ST...enjoy!
 

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Congrats! :yay:
I agree with you on the Sony stereo. Sound is just missing something. I'm already looking at a different set of speakers. Alpine has a decent looking 'componet' set, as well as Boston acoustics. The search goes on. The Sub cabinet needs work, other than stuffing it with cotton. I've a Mtx Kicker box from an old set-up . might swap out the Sub.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
yeah, the only way you can get more bass is a band pass box or a bigger diameter sub. The only thing I can see cotton stuffing will due is get rid of some of what I call the "Focus vibration" Of course, right now I'm just enjoying the engine notes. The difficulty with these new audio factory set ups Ford is running is that there is no EQ adjustment. I really don't get it. But even without mods, its a pretty good sounding system (way better than what the ST1 offers), but the perfect sound system is always elusive.
 

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Congratulations! I have the opposite problem, I have snow tires on but no snow to drive in. :(

As a fellow Virginian I hope to see you around sometime.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Flow cytometry ... Cool. Yeah it looks like we are on opposite ends of the state. I am all the way down near the Va/tn border and dont get up that way much ... But do have family up in frederick and lancaster
 

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Flow cytometry ... Cool.
You sir are the first person on the internet to ever react to that. I'd offer you a prize if I had thought of one ahead of time. :)

Va/tn border
Man that's pretty country, I sure wish I could manage to live down that way. The roads, and the BBQ, are incredible.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Well, probably the medical degree that has something to do with my reaction to your occupation ... I'm an internist and I work in conjuction with oncologists so we use flow not infrequently in the work up of lymphomas and what not.

On another note ... argh, my ST is covered in snow and ice again ... this time more ice that snow. You guys getting some snow now up there right?
 

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I'm an internist and I work in conjuction with oncologists
Cool, I'm more on the research side than the medical side. I don't have a clinical machine.
You guys getting some snow now up there right?
We got a day of snow, just enough to test my ABS and appreciate it, but it was gone again a day later. Not enough to have some parking lot fun in.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Cool research is an amazing thing. I tried a bit as an undergrad working in molecular bio when at Penn State and then tried clinical research in residency but i didnt have the patience for it. I thankful folks like you are though or we wouldnt have the advances on the clinical/treatment side we currently enjoy.

Well its snowing again an im goin out to put on my personalized plates that arrived yesterday...pics to follow.
 

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Discussion Starter #14 (Edited)
Okay so I decided to detail our 3 cars today ... and the ST was first, followed by the SE and then my wife's Volvo C70 which has been sitting in the garage dirty for the better part of the winter. Thought I would post these pics of the ST finally looking somewhat more the way I want. Funny, finished with the last car and then it started raining again.

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Didn't get time to do the tailpipe yet...

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I have to say I really like the 18 inch wheels on this car for detailing purposes because you can't easily clean the inside of the rims with smaller rims. I have 17 inch rims on the Volvo and you can't clean the entire inside of the rims without taking the tires off. But with the 18 inch rims there is enought clearance around the large front rotors to actually be able to clean them without taking the wheels off. Sweet.

Still have not decided on the glass coating yet, but I like Unreal's recommendation to use 22PLE treatment and I might try applying that myself after the next wash.

Winter tires and Sport Edition Rims (with rusty brake rotors yikes)

Finally, for those astute enough to notice, the pics show my silver F150 and the sonic blue 2012 Focus SE.
 

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So nice when clean! What's the green stuff in the background? Oh, grass. No detailing here so far. Last year we were able to drag out the hoses a few times (and then drain them and put them away for the next frost). No luck this year with regular rain and snow and then the BIG snow from this weekend. Raining now and something coming this weekend. Might be able to squeeze in a touchless car wash mid-week.
 

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Discussion Starter #16 (Edited)
Like Father, Like Son (2013 Focus ST vs. 2012 Focus SE Sport)


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As I am the proud owner of two Foci I thought it might be interesting and fun to compare/contrast these two practical and amazing little cars. Since many of you may already know the differences in the specs between these two cars I’m not going to focus on those details in this discussion as I will try to focus more on the practical differences from an owner/driver perspective. However, I will post here a few bits of info that may help those who aren’t as familiar with the non ST Focus models.

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2012 Focus SE (5 door) with SE Sport Package (plus winter package/moonroof)
2.0 Ti-VCT w/automatic 6speed transmission
OEG = 203A (MyFord and Sync, Alarm, Cruise, 6 Speakers)
2012 SE Sport Package
16” alloy wheels with painted pockets (SE sport package optional)
Select Shift (like SEL/Titanium models)
Weather mats
Leather wrapped steering wheel and shifter
Rear disc brakes
Cloth two tone seats (w/ driver’s manual adjust) – one of the most unique features of this car. Interestingly, these are almost identical to the ST1 cloth seats as you can see from the pictures below (sans the ST logo).

We originally purchased this car for my son so he would be able to learn to drive using a small, safe and easy-to-operate vehicle with decent fuel economy. While he drove this car for his entire permit period I ended up spending a lot of time driving it myself and quickly fell in love with the handling, ride quality and fuel economy. He has since inherited the SE with my purchase of the ST.

My only misgivings about the SE have been the lackluster power and the auto transmission. In “D” the car is less than exciting and tends to “shudder” – something that has been a complaint among regular Focus owners – with minimal pressure on the pedal. However, Select Shift “S” mode eliminates the fuel saving low RPM shifting and gives a bit more control to the driver. Driving in this mode is closer to manual shifting and also eliminates the “shudder.” Nevertheless, this car would have been much better with a manual transmission (they are out there). Unfortunately, we were unable to find what we wanted (as only the S model was available with the 5 speed manual) and since my son wanted to learn driving on an automatic first, I settled on the SE with Sport Package. In addition to the above, the manual driver’s seat adjust was pretty disappointing, and the interior takes forever to cool down in the summer heat.

SE vs. ST

Curb Appeal
The pictures pretty much tell the story – both cars look great in my opinion, but both my son and I prefer both the rear and front fascia changes that were made with the ST. Notice in the above picture how the SE has a wedge appearance with a narrower front and the ST has a fatter nose. I wouldn’t have appreciated this as much without the side by side view. As for the side rocker panels and the bottom of the rear bumper, while the ST looks better, that painted rocker panel is much harder to keep looking nice from road hazards, scratches, rocks, tar, etc. Notice in the pictures how the ST sits lower in reference to the ground. Keep in mind that the ground where the ST is perched slopes away from the house, making it look slightly higher at roof level, but in reference to the ground clearance it’s about a half inch lower. Also interesting is the difference in the rear, which his quite noteworthy. I measure about 19.25” from ground to the bottom of the actual painted bumper on the SE and about ¾” lower on the ST to that same area. This has the effect of making the trunk compartment look lower to the ground compared to the SE which looks like its tail is slightly jacked up in the air – subtle, but noticeable (pictured below). The rear spoiler differences can be noted in these pictures as well - the vented ST spoiler allowing strange light patterns on the rear window. The difference in the tailpipes is so glaring that I daresay Ford skimped on the SE.

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Interior
To me, both cars are a win in this category as they both look great – much more stylish than the competition (Mazda, Chevy, Honda, VW). The two-tone cloth seats in the SE (pictured below) look better than most of the cloth seats in other base Foci (which are kind of dull), but the leather heated seats in the ST3 are hard to beat for fit. Having said that, for me at least, the cloth seats are more comfortable on long rides because the Recaros tend to squeeze the buttock/upper thighs too much (and I’m not overweight), but I much prefer the shoulder fit/upper body support of the Recaros. As many might not know, the rear seats in the ST3 get the middle fold down armrest which my kids seem to enjoy.

I really like the ambient lighting on the ST3 – the SE only has that in the foot wells and you can’t change the color. In terms of the center front console, the SE has the front to back cup holder arrangement and that useless coin holder (see picture below) whereas the ST, which shares the same configuration as the Titanium in this regard, has the much better side-by-side set up with the hand brake much closer to the shifter for quick use. I find both vehicles are easy to keep clean on the interior, but the SE wins in this regard because of the cloth seats and the lighter colors on the upper part of the interior. On the other hand, I love the “all black” interior of the ST3 as it adds an element of class and aggressiveness not felt with the SE. My son prefers the blue tach/speedometer light of the SE while I prefer the red in the ST.

Finally, the rear hatch compartment is bigger in the SE as the ST contains the full spare.

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Tech Toys
As most know, the ST is closer to the Titanium in this regard – my SE has the MyFord with Sync (no touch screen). And while the Sync works as designed in both vehicles, the array of buttons in the SE is pretty horrendous. Fortunately, the saving grace is that you can operate all the features from the steering wheel or with voice command, but still, it is hard to learn. So for those that think MFT is bad it’s far superior to what the SE offers. As I’ve posted elsewhere in the forum, Sync has consistently improved since my first experience with it in 2009 and I’m generally very happy with how well it works in these two Foci.

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Wheels
There’s not much to compare here that isn’t self-explanatory. Winter performance 18” tires/wheels on the ST and very average factory 16” all seasons on the SE. (why does Ford love Continental so much?) I will say my son loves his painted wheels and they are far easier to keep looking clean compared to either the factory ST rims or my Sport Editions A7’s. I will say this, though, about the SE tires – they ride well on the highways and road noise is minimal. Note the difference in the front rotor diameter.

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Performance
While I’m not really sure you can compare the SE/ST in the performance category for obvious reasons, I was surprised – and continue to be – at how similar, rather than different, they are. You can’t deny the flat out acceleration and torque differences between the two engines, but for most day to day driving, the handling/cornering and ride are more similar than I would have thought. Differences in the profile and size of the tires aside, the ride on the ST is a little rougher, as would be expected, due to the suspension differences. Both cars stick to the road like they have vacuum suction.

With the larger front rotors on the ST (as seen above), it stops on a dime, whereas the SE is not quite as responsive. While there have been a lot of concerns about the steering, I like it on both cars – the SE is great on the highway because the wheel just wants to stick in the straight position, even when you try to throw it side to side, it comes right back instead of veering slightly to the side. The ST on the other hand can steer around a dime on the road. Without a doubt, both cars are fun to drive, the SE more subdued and the ST more aggressive – a handful when charging hard.

Fuel Economy/Maintenance Costs
As you would expect, the SE wins easily in this category, and I anticipate the SE will also be cheaper to maintain over the long haul. The cost of gas using 87 instead of 93 favors the SE once again. Interestingly, on the highway at 70MPH in 6th gear both run around 2600 RPMs.

SE Average MPG = 34.5 (after one year/12,000 miles); Max = 42; Typical 35-37.
ST Average MPG = 25 (after 1,000 miles); Max = 32; typical 26-27.
SE Service = $100.00/1st year
ST Service = $25.00 to change summer wheels to winter/reprogram TPMS.

As configured, the purchase difference between my Foci was $7500.00 (ST >SE).

Summary
In the end, the SE feels like a much more expensive car than its price (as does the ST as we all know) and with some mods could possibly satisfy some drivers with a lower budget. This was, of course, our goal with my son. Additionally, if you can find an SE with Sport package and a 5 speed manual, you might even save a few more thousand.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Well I tried to drive my ST to work this am and the transmission is stuck in second (where i left it a few days ago when last drove it). The temps have been below freezing and some snow so i am hoping its just frozen but i didnt have time to sit in it and let it warm up to see because that would require me to keep my foot on clutch. So will have to see after work what happens as its supposed to warm up today into upper 40s. Hope its not a broken gear tooth or shifter ...it worked fine when i last drove it a few days ago before the snow.

Anyone have a similar issue or have any ideas?
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Here is my latest mod ... found a new use for the rear spoiler...


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Well it seems that the ST doesn't like cold weather. I've never had a transmission stuck or literally frozen from weather but that seems to be what happened on Friday AM. I had not driven the car in a few days and it had been rainy when I last drove it and then snowed for two days and when I tried to start it on Friday AM I could not get the car out of second gear. It started fine, but the shifter would not move from 2nd where I had left it a few days prior. By the time I got home from work on Friday night the temp had been above freezing for 6 hours and it worked fine. Went into neutral no problem and then has been great all weekend.

So moral of the story appears to be to leave this car in neutral so you can warm it up to thaw out the gear box if you plan to leave it sit for time in sub freezing temps. Hoping no other issues with the transmission at this time.
 

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Glad it is working again JT. I've been leaving mine in gear after getting the weight off the tranny and setting the e-brake. No issues so far. Maybe it was a good thing that you left it in 2nd that time...can you imagine pulling out of your driveway in first and then reaching for second and finding yourself stuck in first? Not good if you live on a busy road with flowing traffic.
 
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