2013 Mazdaspeed3 vs. 2013 Ford Focus ST: A Morning Conversation Between Editors

Reviews I By John Beltz Snyder I February 22, 2013
Every morning at 9:00, Winding Road editors Brandon Turkus and John Beltz Snyder have a little chat online about the weather (snowy), how we’re feeling (could use a coffee), and about the cars we’re driving. These conversations can sometimes be pretty revealing about our weekly loans. One such conversation happened this morning, when Brandon asked John about his time with the Mazdaspeed3. The Mazda was immediately compared to the Ford Focus ST, and the issue of torque steer was the particular focus.
Brandon Turkus: How’s the Speed? Angry, as usual?
John Beltz Snyder: Yeah. I like it. I’d take it over an ST.
BT: Wow, now that’s surprising. Why?
JBS: It’s a lot more livable. Plus I can manage the torque steer better.
BT: Huh, I’d have never guessed.
JBS: The torque steer in the 3 is fun. In the ST it’s kind of scary. It’s probably because of the tight, tight steering in the ST. It takes less effort to sort of work with the wiggles in the Mazda. Corrections are a struggle in the ST. The steering is more forgiving in the 3, too (read: less direct), where in the ST, you dial in a bit of steering angle, you’re committed, and if you guess wrong you’re screwed.
BT: I can see that, but I’d look at the ST’s twitchiness as more of a challenge. That being said, I never really gave the ST a full boot from a standstill while I had it.
JBS: It is more of a challenge, for sure. But I don’t know if I’d want that sort of challenge every day.
BT: Which one would you consider more involving?
JBS: The ST, by a lot.
If that requires a little clarification about the handling of the Focus ST, our original Driven review explains:
The only drawback of the strong power delivery in the Focus ST was that it exhibited a lot of torque steer. Combined with the snappy steering, it made it a bit difficult to remain pointed dead ahead under wide-open throttle. Approaching the engine’s redline, we felt nervous to take our right hand off the wheel to reach over and prepare to shift.
So, yes, the Focus ST may be more involving, while the Mazdaspeed3 is a bit more isolated, and therefore a bit more comfortable to drive in day-to-day situations. It requires less effort to drive casually, while the more hardcore Ford is probably capable of a more rewarding, exciting, and engaging experience when driven with skill and resolve.
For the track, and the weekend trips to our favorite winding roads, the Ford Focus ST is the better driver’s car. But the Mazdaspeed3 is almost as good, and for the 90 percent of the time when we’re just using the car to run errands, or take friends out to dinner, or travel Up North for a vacation, the more manageable Mazda just makes more sense.

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