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This thread is a perfect example of why it took 3 generations for Americans to get a turbo Focus and why American cars can't handle.
You know, I thought this response (or at least mocking the OP) was way too harsh before, but now that I've finally test driven an ST on real-world roads I'm not so sure.

Okay, so I didn't go over any major potholes, but I was still shocked out how solid the car felt over imperfections and how excellent the ride was in spite of the 18" wheels and low-profile tires (I even aimed for all the minor potholes in the dealer's lot upon return, just to test). Indeed, the ride was at least as good as my suspension-refreshed SVT's, which is rolling on 205/55/16"s (i.e. much smaller wheels and taller sidewalls).

To me, the ST's ride was flat-out perfect. (Of course, I'd still probably switch to 17"s and taller tires as I've intended, but that would be to save weight and money - because I bent plenty of OEM SVT wheels around here before switching to 16"s - not to soften the ride.) Now, if the ST's front suspension proved as prone to clunkiness as the SVT's, then I'd probably be worrying more about ride softening.
 

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I second the brand of tires theory. I put Michelin Pilot Super Sports on my BMW to replace both the run flat Bridgestones and PS2 before that. They were quieter, smoother, stickier, and better wear rating. Same on every Honda I've owned. Get the stock tires off and they ride quieter and smoother. Oddly enough, my Ecoboost F150 was the opposite. The Goodyear Wrangler SRA on it were spongy, squirmy, and couldn't handle any weight. But they rode awesome and super quiet. Since I pull loads all the time they are sitting in storage with Nitto Trail Grapplers 10 ply on truck now. I've got a set of stock sized Michelin Pilot Alpin pa3 sitting in garage waiting to go on stock wheels. Newer cars with European suspension influences don't seem to ruin big wheels on potholes anymore. 18's on BMW in winter never had trouble. And we have terrible winters and roads in NE Kansas.
 

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From what C&D the PSS were one of the harsher ones. I think they liked the Conti Extreme DW best for ride quality. I'm pretty happy with the F1's so far but most likely will replace with the Contis when that time comes unless something better comes out that's at a similar price point. The PSS are about $50 more per tire.
 

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To be honest, the ST feels a bit soft to me. The FR-S is quite a bit stiffer, and my 240sx is in another league since there's zero rubber between the tire and the steering wheel (replaced steering bushing, spherical bushings on the tie rods and control arms, etc).

The main problem I see with the ST if you're trying to get a "softer" ride, is not actually the suspension. It does a good job of dampening and adsorbing ruts and stuff. The issue is the tires. Get some 17"s and a bit larger sidewall. If you live in a northern state it may be an excuse for your winter set. But I'd be willing to put down money that some 235/45/17's would feel a lot better (pretty close to the same overall size).
 

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I put the winters on there yesterday, and the ride is like a whole new car. they are 225 something(50, 55,??) R17 and it's much smoother. Could be because the snow tires feel like bubble gum, or that the sidewall now exists, not sure.

Oh, did I mention my wife is 6 mos pregnant, and starting to complain about every bump, and shift past 2k... I love pregnancies :)
 

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my wife actually refused to sit in my subaru STi with it's rather stiffer than stock suspension "modifications"...
 

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I really like the ST's stock ride - It just feels tight to me. I'm not clunking (yet), nothing is bone jarring - the car just seems composed. I have compromise tires on my SVT, and it'll take all the winter commuting, so I'm not going to take the F1s off the ST.

Holden, I know what you mean about bent SVT wheels. I think the 15-spoke Euro wheels are less prone to this, but there's a reason the 04 SVT came with different wheels than the 02/03.
 

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Holden, I know what you mean about bent SVT wheels. I think the 15-spoke Euro wheels are less prone to this, but there's a reason the 04 SVT came with different wheels than the 02/03.
Unfortunately nope, they still bend just as easy on the inside, unsupported lip. I didn't hear as many people complaining as much over the years about the six-spoke '04 SVTF rims but I recall people bending those as well as the earlier five-spoke design (I thought I recalled the '04 update being more for a styling change as they also used similar wheel design on the Lightning). Probably just a combination of stiff suspension, inexpensive OEM cast wheels and a low-profile performance tire with stiff sidewalls. Hopefully the ST setup holds up better.


Compared to some front drive and other sporting compacts I've driven and owned the ride on the ST isn't very harsh but the roads in my area aren't as bad as in some other parts of the country. If you lived in a world of potholes I could see where it might be a bit too much. Some of this sensation may also come from the Recaro seats holding you very snuggly with a better feel of what the car is doing. I know a lot of people will want to lower the car for a better appearance but the stock ride quality and overall balance between ride and handling as well as actually having some decent suspension travel has me not wanting to make any drastic changes.

As suggested a different set of wheels and tires should improve the ride but might also kill some of the handling precision and cornering abilities. Luckily there are some reasonably decent performance all-season tires so it might not be as bad as it once was but you'll still give up some of what makes the ST special getting rid of the summer tires. Unfortunately I'd also wager that most of the suspension kits or upgrades that come to market, even if adjustable won't have much if any range to improve ride quality. It seems like most people who upgrade want the stiffer performance for track use and many of the cheap kits designed to slam the car to the ground will ride on stiff springs and cheap dampers. There's always the option for custom valved struts and shocks but carefully selecting matching components to improve the ride quality while not dramatically harming handling takes much talent (i.e. art and science).
 

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Oh - wow. I've not heard complaints about the bent 04s. That's pretty crappy. I don't blame you for changing. With Chicago's amazing streets, I'm pretty happy I went with the Euro, as it's probably saved me some wheel replacements, if things were that bad.
 

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^^ Yeah, I bent at least 3 of them before throwing in the towel and going to 16"s. Too bad, because I loved the look of them, but the 16" switch has been great - noticeable ride improvement, I still don't reach the cars limits on public roads, and I haven't bent a rim since (three years and counting).

So, with that all in mind, I'd definitely be switching to 17"s with a Focus (or 16"s with a Fiesta) ST.
 

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Has anyone heard how the Eibach spring effect ride/handling since they are progressive instead of linear? They might slightly sacrifice handling, but may improve ride comfort some...
I thought the stock springs were progressive. I had eibach pro kits on my VW. They're linear and transmitted a lot more of the small imperfections than the ST. And the ST is 40 vs 55 profile.


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I took a test drive. I loved it. It goes exactly where you aim it, as if it were on rails. It corners flat. And the acceleration is more than needed for most legal driving. BUT the wife found the ride to be way too harsh. And she is a keeper.

So what is the easiest - and cheapest - way to soften the ride a bit. Just 17s? Or will it mean new shocks/dampers? And what is a ballpark cost on those if they are needed?
Thanks
Agreed! And I’d like to take the car down some gravel roads and get it sideways a little without the feeling that every bump is going to send the struts through the mounts. I think our first bet is to try 16/17s to soften the ride but maintain handling a bit. We’re not all track monkeys looking to lower and tighten. 😉 I’ll need a better skid plate as well.
 
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