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So since I was little, I had a penchant for small cars with stick shifts. I didn't always have one, I didn't always seek them out, but I enjoyed driving them when I did. The VW Cabriolet my mom had, peoples early 80's (RWD!) Corollas, the girlfriend's 82 Civic, another girlfriend's Jetta and subsequent Tercel (ok, not so much), Fiats Palios, Puntos, and Unos in varying conditions in Europe, the Middle East, and Latin America. I also really enjoyed large truck platforms, like the 3-ton GM that underpinned many a Grumman Olson, complete with a gutless inline-6 and a four-on-the-floor, even more so when I got to be a mechanic for a fleet of them. The stick shifts made the vehicles.

Where does this leave the Focus ST?

Oh, it should be so right. So perfect. All of the above lusciousness of a six speed, the cabin connected to the intake manifold using a stethoscope (really, the sound symposer is that). It's an invitation to drive, and drive, and drive. It shows its love to the skilled driver the way only a car of its class can. It hoons, it handles, it flies. It even has brakes that work, and work, and work. It should be head and shoulders above the vehicles listed in the preceding paragraph. But it's not. Why not? Because it actually has power. All of the above vehicles were blessed with some combination of a noisy drivetrain, a gutless engine, and a stick shift. A modicum of good handling helped. In German, this juxtaposition of traits is called a Verhängnis in one simple word encompassing this.

Perhaps it's the desire to tromp on the gas pedal in a little car that's my problem. I can do this all day in a Fiat Palio with a 1.6L engine, and even traffic in a Latin American metropolis with one third of the population of Canada isn't as miserable as one would think. But the Focus ST? Well, it actually moves, so when you mash the gas the thing catapults forward, the steering wheel fights you with actual credibility, the car surges through gears, and while the noise is wonderful, one is quickly frustrated by having to apply that middle pedal. Again. And Again. It's as if the Miatas, Toyota 86's, and Corollas of the world actually do something better, which is to make lots of noise and letting the driver stomp the gas pedal and row the gears as much as they want without actually going fast.

It's like too much of a good thing. I am going to talk to a therapist about this.
 

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This is the whole 'slow car fast vs. fast car slow' thing. I find that for daily driving, I can still get on it in second and occasionally third and have a good time with the go pedal.

Mostly, I just tend to whip around corners faster than I would in something else, which is entertaining in its own way. There's this back road to the office with a posted limit of 35, which means everyone runs down it at 50 until they hit this little S-curve in the middle. Every time I drive that way, I'll have someone crawling up my backside because I'm 'only' doing 40-45. Watching them fall away a couple of hundred feet before the curve while I don't bother to lift and just keep on cruising through it is always amusing. Even better is when they stomp on it after they're finally through to 'catch back up'. So many people think that the daily drive is some sort of race, I guess.

Sometimes, it's the little things. :)
 

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You are 100% correct in driving a slow car at 10/10ths being hugely entertaining vs a fast car at 2/10ths. For me it was 2 years of DD'ing a 1990 ford escort with a 5 speed and <90 hp. Fell in love with rowing gears having to work for any speed and momentum. Always enjoyed the 14 seconds to get to from 0-60, winding that little bugger out getting on the highway. It was as simple as it could get and pretty solid holding up to all the torture a highschool age me put it through.

Was recently reminded of this when I traded a friend my ST for his M4 for the week. Don't get me wrong. It was a beast of a car when you had the road to yourself and somewhat dry pavement but was torture commuting into down town Seattle daily and running errands. Welcomed the ST back with a huge grin.
 

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I've always liked smaller cars and one of my favorites was an 82 VW Scirocco that I bought new. 2200lbs with 74hp and a 5 speed. It never really felt slow to me and got 42mpg highway.
 
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