Unforseen consequences of Focus ST3 Ownership
Now this, i didn't expect...
Now I've had my Focus ST3 for a few weeks now. Yes it wheel-spins too easily, yes it torque-steers and YES, it will probably shred my tyres on a regular basis. However, I've been really quite enjoying the car. It's an engaging to drive car, it grips, it corners flat and it's got bags of power. Almost TOO much power for the drivetrain if such a thing is possible. I dread to think what the 275 BHP Mountune version is like....
Now despite enjoying the car, there are a few niggles. I'm not referring to the wheel spin and torque-steer either. The problem is the way other driver's perceive you.
Now I'll be honest, I've been out of the hot-hatch scene... Well, I was never really in it. When I was young I could never afford to insure a hot hatch so I invariably drove a 1.0 litre, 50hp shopping trolley, with alloys and a spoiler. (Hey it was the 1990's!)
At the time there WAS a certain image to the Fiesta XR2i, RS1800, Escort XR3i and RS Turbo family of cars. Fast Fords were laddish, a bit thuggish and probably being driven dangerously. It seemed in Stoke on Trent the majority of drivers of these cars were either thieves or just uninsured, and potentially didn't even have a licence. They were the weapon of choice for the typical Potteries based Joy Rider.
Think, Burberry caps, tracksuits and cheap lager. Think 'car cruising' but not the nice variety where it's properly organized and you have sponsors and event managers. I'm talking about the more 'grass-roots' variety, involving races, drifting, doughnuts, handbrake turns and burn outs on public roads that actually led to an injunction on car cruising at Festival Park in Stoke.
Fast forward twenty years and I thought that scene was dead. I really thought the Focus ST3 was just a decent family car with slightly better than average performance.
Now you'll have to bear with me a bit. I WAS driving a 3.0 Jaguar X-Type AWD Estate, which most people assume was being driven by a pensioner. Now I'm in a Focus ST3, I'm certain people treat me differently.
People seem to WANT to go faster than me. People in innocuous looking cars, seem to want to overtake when I'm actually already doing a good turn of speed. Why?
I really can't understand it. I pulled away from some lights in Crewe a couple of weeks ago and the chap who'd been alongside me seemed to grip his wheel, hunch over it and glare at me as if he was Ayrton Senna and he'd just been over-taken by Mansell on the final lap of the Monaco Grand Prix. It wasn't some scabby youth in a knackered old hot hatch either. It was an middle aged or older gent in a diesel Astra. Next thing I know he almost runs me off the road as he tears past me on the next round about.
This wasn't a unique experience either. The next week I was driving to Shavington and I pulled past a Vauxhall Mocha diesel in white, which was sitting in the left hand lane.
Now I was literally just pottering along driving normally, enjoying my ST3. Again, next thing I now, the young lady piloting the Mocha has pulled out behind me and I see this in my rear view mirror.
I literally have no clue was going on here. I was enjoying a spirited drive, I admit. But the Mocha had suddenly gone from pottering along in a queue of traffic to going hell for leather down the outside lane, chasing me. When the line of cars on the left ended I pulled in, but maintained my pace. The girl in the 1.5 diesel Mocha was hammering along - both feet on the accelerator. I watched her rattle past me, hunched over the wheel and rocking back and forth slightly trying to eek an extra brake horsepower out of her tortured diesel engine, driving as if she was escaping the zombie apocalypse or something... I DIDN'T accelerate past, or pull out. I was just pottering along to Shavington and wondering why the sudden change in driving style when I went past.
Now I really can't see the point in getting involved in road races. I know, my ST3 is a faster car than a diesel Vauxhall, the same as I know the A500 just outside Crewe ISN'T the place to prove it. Why don't these drivers know that when they drive faster than me, it's guaranteed to be simply because I didn't WANT to drive faster. I wouldn't try and outrun an Audi R8, or a BMW M5, or even a Focus RS.... That would be like entering a Reliant Kitten into the Le Mans 24 hours. There's no point in racing outside of your class. I know how much horsepower I have, I really don't have anything to prove. If I enjoy a spirited drive, it's purely for my own enjoyment. Not for one-upmanship or the macho feeling of having won a race.
You might think this is my imagination, but I'm convinced it's not. I never noticed this in the Jag. I'm sure it's just something about either a hot hatch, an ST3 or a Fast Ford in general that changes people's attitude. I'm sure this is real, but I can't understand for the life of my why it would be? I mean does anyone know what's going through these people's heads?
1990's car culture:-
The Swinger's Car - The BMW:-
The Super Estate - The only car you need:-
The Ghost of Skoda's Past:-
Slow vs Pro Grand Tour Suggestion:-
Ben Collins vs The American:-
Ferrari or Pasta Quiz:-
[ICT] Irreverent Car Talk