Head to head: Scion fr-s V. Ford focus ST

Apples and oranges...

3y ago
1.2K

I like apples and I like oranges, if for different reasons. I like the Toyota/Scion/Subaru 86/FR-S/BRZ and I like the Ford Focus ST, also for different reasons.

This is not meant to be a be-all-end-all review and the only reason I'm comparing two cars which cannot be compared is because I'm not an automotive journalist who gets fancy road test days bought and paid for, I'm just a guy who owns an FR-S and has a brother with a Focus ST. So let's get to it...

Price may be their only similar specification, both ringing up in the mid-$20k range. As-tested, both cars were in the $30k range and for the price, the ST left something to be desired in terms of options. It lacks some of the wonderful unobtrusive creature comforts of the 10 Series FR-S like HID headlights and SatNav. The 86 seats 4 but only if two of your friends are amputees, meanwhile the Focus ST can seat 5 rather comfortably. The ST also wins in the cargo capacity category, unsurprisingly. Don't knock the 86's trunk just yet, though, because it is more than practical for daily use.

I find the 86 to have a more ergonomic interior; you can plop into the seat and everything is where it should be. The steering wheel size and location feels natural. The shifter is placed exactly where your hand naturally falls. All the controls are where they should be. The Focus ST, on the other hand feels more like a jazzed up family hatch. The seat is high off the floor, the B-pillar blocks peripheral vision to the left, the dash and steering wheel feel higher than they should be in relation to the seat and the shifter location feels like an afterthought.

The 86 also takes the cake on exterior styling. It was so properly done down to every detail; sculpted to be a modern take on the 2000GT. The Focus ST looks like what it is; a jazzed up family hatch. Ford has given it some nice styling cues to set it apart from the boring version; that aggressive front fascia (like an angry catfish) the 18" wheels and painted oversized brakes.

Performance figures are far different between the two; the 86 weighing in at 2760 pounds and producing 200bhp meanwhile the ST weighs in at 3223 pounds but makes 252bhp, giving the Focus ST a slight edge in a power-to-weight comparison. The ST also gets to 60 faster than the 86 by close to a half-second, albeit with massive torque-steer. It's around twisty roads that you really start to feel the weight of the ST, especially on quick transitions, and start to appreciate the 2" lower center of gravity offered in the 86. The ST is also prone to some massive understeer if you get on the gas with any steering input at all. The ST seems to be geared a bit lower, which added to the torquey turbo-surge provides some absolutely blistering acceleration.

I have always been the one to echo the words of Tetsuya Tada, "If you think the 86 doesn't have enough power, then you don't understand the car", but after a day in the ST, I'll admit the 86 could use a little wake up.

The 86 is better compared to the Miata or their richer cousin the Porsche Cayman. The Focus ST is better compared to the WRX or the Volkswagen GTI. In a head to head mashup, though, (and I may have a serious bias) I'd have to give the FR-S the win based purely upon driving feel alone.

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