Driven: Ford Performance Vehicles

Written by Shaun Keenan | Photography by Shaun Keenan (with photos from Ford of Canada) on .

 Driven: Ford Performance Vehicles

Fords focused on performance

I’m in Ottawa to participate in Ford of Canada’s 2013 Performance Vehicles Program. There isn’t just one new high-performance model here, but several including the Mustang V6 and GT (both in coupe and convertible form) plus the track-happy Boss 302 and powerhouse Shelby GT500. The 2013 Focus ST is in attendance, too. And, since it’s been years since Ford has had a Focus I’d want to drive, when finally given the chance to have at it in the forthcoming all-new high-performance ST model, I’m all over it like white on white rice.

2013 Focus ST

Driven: Ford Performance Vehicles

Following breakfast and Ford’s marketing presentation at the Brookstreet Hotel, I scramble out to the parking lot to snap up the keys to one of two pre-production Focus STs on hand for the drive out to Calabogie Motorsports Park situated an hour-and-a-half to the west. One by one, the others in this group make their way over to the cars and show their distaste upon learning the first crack at driving the ST has gone to someone else. C’est la vie, right? Based on previous Focus ST (or Sport Technologies) models in Europe and engineered by the Global Performance Vehicle Group – a partnership between Europe’s Team RS and North America’s Special Vehicle Team (SVT) – the new 2013 Focus ST is the first truly global performance car from Ford.

It will be available in 40 different markets around the world, including Canada, when it goes on sale later this summer.Ford has even released pricing – MSRP is $29,999 CAD – and announced a $1,000 technology package and the stunning optional ($300) Tangerine Scream tri-coat paint that, well, screams look at me!

Powered by a specially-tuned two-litre EcoBoost engine that makes 252 hp and 270 lb-ft of torque, the North American models can reach 96.6 km/h (60 mph) in 6.5 seconds. Not Earthshattering by any means, but quick nonetheless and the quickest Focus ever offered this side of the pond. And, that’s not all. The ST engine comes with an “overboost” feature that allows the turbocharger to produce more boost for up to 15 seconds at a time for an extra burst of acceleration when the throttle is wide open. The result is up to 7.4% more output in the sweet spot of the powerband from 3,000 to 4,500 rpm. It’s similar to IndyCar’s Push-to-Pass feature, which the series reintroduced a new version of in Toronto this season, and is useful for overtaking maneuvers.

The roads leading to the track are twisty and chock full of major elevation changes – quite bumpy and technical in places. It’s hot and dry out and the ST is loving every minute of its intercourse with the roasting tarmac ribbon. The redesigned intake and tuned exhaust sounds are fueling my desires to push this car hard, but I’m heading to the track to test out a bevy of Ford Mustangs, so I opt not to break any road rules.

The variable-ratio Ford sport steering works well – it’s light when traveling in a straight line and at slow speeds, but stiffens up for more precise fingertip feedback when pushing it in corners. White rice this is not!

The ST team has done a great job on the sport suspension and the chassis is responsive and well-balanced to give drivers outstanding feedback and control. Three-mode electronic stability controls and enhanced torque vectoring control technologies allow skilled drivers to get maximum performance from the car when at the track. Speaking of which, we’ve just arrived.

2013 Mustang V6

Driven: Ford Performance Vehicles

Ford has made improvements to the new Mustang every year since its 2010 release. Visually, this version gets a new hood, more wheel choices and better performance.

A 305-hp 3.7-litre Ti-VCT V6 engine puts out 280 lb-ft at 4,250 rpm through a six-speed manual transmission and limited-slip differential with 2.73:1 gear ratio (all standard on the base Mustang coupe) for $23,999 CAD. This also gets you a number of new driving technologies from HID headlights to a new 4.2-inch LCD screen that lets users access fuel economy and vehicle performance. To get the optional Performance Pack this car is equipped with, however, you’ll need to step up to the premium coupe for three grand more (plus $1,400 if you are going the six-speed automatic route). This adds the Mustang GT coupe suspension with beefier sway bars, front strut tower brace, 19-inch aluminum wheels and 255/40 R19 Z-rated summer performance tires. Standard power-assisted electric steering and available cloth Recaro seats with integrated head restraints, ample room for helmets and pass-through slots for multi-point harnesses for the V6 and GT models ensure driving enthusiasts’ expectations are met.

A glass roof is an option. There’s also the convertible model, but it’s more expensive – as in Mustang five grand more.

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