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If you are Ford, you already have a winner in the Focus. It is one of the best small cars out there in all of its variations.

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This edition of Drivetime looks at the one way Ford could improve on the Focus… make it a quick, agile, fun-to-drive, turbo-charged street rod. The kind of car that kids dream about and gas station attendants jump out of the booth to look under the hood when you pull up in one. That’s what Ford has done with the 2013 Focus ST 5 Door Hatchback.

The Focus badge of honor. Photo Credit: Vinnie Richichi

The Focus badge of honor. Photo Credit: Vinnie Richichi

The Focus is already a very attractive car in it’s hatchback, a.k.a. five door form. Flowing lines meet sharp angles that give way to large tail lights. The new ST gets the wide open blackout grille that is the new personality of Ford. An ST badge differentiates you from Dad’s commuter car. Color keyed blind spot outside rear view mirrors are useful and attractive. The Focus ST also gets a spoiler mounted at the rear of the roof and very attractive snowflake wheels . Dual exhausts exit at the center of the rear bumper. It looks menacing just standing by the curb.

Inside while the standard Focus has pretty good room for getting in and out of, the addition of Recaro buckets in the front while more supportive, can be a real pain to get in and out of and adjust mainly because of the height of the seat bottoms and bolsters. Also adjustment is manual…no power.  I almost had to be a contortionist to get in on the passenger side. But fun comes with a price, no?

Speedo and Tach are easy to see as is the info center. Oil Temp and boost are mounted on top of the dash and in good line of vision.

Ford’s Sync system reacts well to voice commands not so well to using the screen to operate it. The idea is great the execution not so much.

Now down to the brass tacks…performance. The ST gets a heaping dose of horsepower…the 240 hp turbocharged Eco Boost 4 cylinder married up to a smoking six speed manual shoots the ST from 0-60 in 6.3 seconds and attains a top speed of 155 mph. This is a serious performance car.

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While the engine is pinning your butt into those buckets I was telling you about, the 6 speed manual transmission shifts smoothly through its gears but with some sports car feel to it. Like you have to work a bit to get it in there…you have to drive the ST.

By lowering the car, moving around some suspension parts, using stickier tires and tuning the steering the ST feels well planted, precise and ready to hit the track while not showing a lot of the roughness that can be present in this type of car. To say the Focus ST is a blast to drive is an understatement. Oh and Ford did one more really groovy thing. They let the engine have a voice…unplug your I pod and listen to the sound of an incredible engine…the engine lets you listen to every horse being called upon as you feed it the gas. Drop it into 6th and the noise quiets down but getting there is an aural rush.

The 2013 Ford Focus ST I tested stickered at $27,675. EPA mileage figures 23 city/32 highway/ 26 average. My number came in at 23 MPG on a long road trip to Canada and back. My MPG figures might have been better if I didn’t have so much fun putting my foot into it. The 2013 Focus is a Top Safety Pick of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety getting a G rating in all of the organizations tests.

2013 Focus ST Side View. Photo Credit Vinnie Richichi

2013 Focus ST Side View. Photo Credit Vinnie Richichi

The small performance hatchback class has been dominated by the Mazdaspeed 3 and the Volkswagen Golf GTI with the Subaru WRX also getting a good amount of notice. The Ford Focus ST gives all of these a run for their money and could be the best every day driver out there. It is a stellar performance car that gave me hours of pleasure driving it whether it be on city streets or opening it up on long stretches of Canadian highway. Now if I could just find someone to trade those Recaros for some comfortable seats!

For more information: http://www.ford.com/cars/focus/focusst/

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Get more reviews, news about cars and the people who drive them, interviews and tips on how to get more out of your driving experience all on Drivetime with Vinnie Richichi and Rob Pratte Saturday mornings 7 a.m. to 8 a.m. on Newsradio 1020 KDKA. Also listen to Vinnie on The Vinnie and Cook Show Monday-Friday 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sportsradio 93-7 The Fan.