Caterham VS FOCUS ST3

I can't choose!

Anyone who's been following my car related antics (I feel sorry for you poor suckers - both of you!) will know I've been seriously considering doing a track day again. Last time I did one, was over a decade ago.

MX5 - Donnington Park

MX5 - Donnington Park

Now I used my old MX5. I didn't insure it, I did an evening session at Donnington Park. I really like the track. It's interesting, it's fast and there's a really nice hair-pin on the GP circuit. However, though the track is fast, my MX5 wasn't. The most I got it up to was showing about 80mph on the clock. So probably about 75mph. It was a under-powered 1.6i. Yes it was kind fun, and a good car for a novice as you can't get into too much trouble with 110bhp, but by halfway through the session I felt like I wanted something a bit more poke and to spend a bit less time, hugging the right hand side of the track, indicator on and watching Elises, VX220's and Caterhams fly past in a line.

Yes, it was fun, but a 1.8i Supercharged MX5 would have been MORE fun.

Yes, it was fun, but a 1.8i Supercharged MX5 would have been MORE fun.

Fast forward to now and I've changed my slightly crusty old X-Type Estate, which though a nice car - was about as suitable for a track day, as Chris Evans was suitable for a Top Gear presenter.

Jaguar X-Type 3.0 V6

Jaguar X-Type 3.0 V6

Bloody nice car to drive, I still miss it now. However, it was never going on a track. Now, after much deliberation - I ended up with a Focus ST3, 256 bhp.

Focus ST3

Focus ST3

Now the Focus ST3 is a cracker. It's a much sportier drive than the Jag and way faster. However it's still not exactly a Radical SR3 or an Ariel Atom. In reality it's just a little faster than you can ever really drive it on the roads. Certainly around here.

I want to see what it's like. I want to really give it everything and see how fast it is when you aren't constrained by on-coming traffic, narrow lanes and nanny-state speed limits.

I was all set to go back to Donnington Park and take on the GP circuit again. However, my wife is adamant that I should hire a Caterham if I do a trackday.

Caterham

Caterham

Now technically, I can see where she's coming from. It would cost me £100 approx to insure my Focus for an evening session at Donnington Park. Plus 1/3 of a set of front tyres I imagine. (It really spins the tyres up!) and some break pad wear, and fuel! If I hire a Caterham from my chosen provider ( If you're interested:- www.bookatrack.com ) I can get it for £295, all fuel and consumables included. There's still an excess on insurance, but all wear and tear on the car is covered.

So what? What do I do? Surely a Caterham is more go-kart-like and fun than a turbo-nutter-barge on a Track day? Yes, it probably is. However it kind of defeats the object of trying to see what the Focus is like when you're thrashing the tits off it.

Plus, and this might sound like heresy, but I don't like Caterhams. I've never driven one, or even been in one, but I don't like cars where you're sitting on the back axle. The MX5 was a bit like that and I always wanted to sit a bit further forwards and have the engine behind me.

I really don't know what to do. My wife suggested I have a Helicopter lesson instead after we'd last debated this. (I'm 40 soon). I've done the light-plane lesson and enjoyed it, I've had a go in a micro-light too! I've been in choppers, but I've never had a go at flying one.

Part of me thinks, yeah, go for the flying lesson. Part of me thinks, hire a Caterham and go 'Go Karting' in it. Almost treat it as a test-drive for a future purchase?

But then both of these options will leave me wondering...

What is the Focus ST3 like, when you rag the living balls off it around a track?

I have no idea what to do! :(

Martyn Stanley
[ICT] Irreverent Car Talk
drivetribe.com/t/T7MA7Qb-Rdi6gJL1fUzFpw?iid=Yf7lpZnFSIqdKWZVxOClGQ

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Comments (3)

  • Ive used a caterham on a grass circuit before.. Great fun, really helps you get the hang of oversteer as well :)

      3 years ago
  • Take the Caterham. It's an opportunity that doesn't come too often, and besides, you'll save the ST3 a lot of wear. You have a few years together ahead of you, after all. You can discover its character then.

      3 years ago
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