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RAZOR-FOCUSED SHELBY
Shelby does the Ford Focus ST

This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!

Published on Thu, Mar 14, 2013

By: The LACar Editorial Staff

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2013 Shelby Focus ST with Checkered graphics

By Zoran Segina The first thing you feel after pressing the remote control start button is the sound—a resolute, unapologetic growl. Somewhere behind you the twin Borla exhausts are getting ready. You squeeze yourself into a two-tone leather-clad Recaro-Katzkin seat, adjust the thick steering wheel, push the manual short-throw shifter into a gear, glance at the oil pressure and temperature gauges, and try to release the clutch as gently as possible. The resulting jolt foretells you that this 275-horsepower performer will take some time getting used to. Once in second gear, the acceleration turns from rapid to unbelievable. The two-liter turbocharged engine somehow becomes a power plant of a fighter jet. Even before the tach reaches the red zone, the blurring scenery and the speedometer are letting you know that this Focus is travelling at eighty miles per hour down Lincoln Boulevard, and that any encounter with law enforcement personnel will result in a custodial sentence. Applying a hefty dose of self- control results in lowering the speed to (still unacceptable) sixty miles per hour. In fact, during the first ten minutes of the test drive the speedometer hovers around sixty mph most of the time. What does it take to drive this thing normally?

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Taking the first corner redefines the phrase “drive normally”. You enter the ninety-degree right hander at seemingly insane velocity, turn the wheel, and Shelby Focus follows with barely perceptible wiggle of its tail. The low profile Michelin Pilot Super Sports hold the asphalt with brutal efficiency. There is no sway, no screeching of tires, no understeer, no nothing. Upon exiting the turn, you upshift, and the Focus again becomes a missile, yet completely within your control. Despite the massive power at the front wheels, the dreaded torque steer is almost non-existent. You look forward to the next corner to repeat this sequence. The six calipers of the Shelby-Wilwood brakes grab reassuringly, the rear end pivots just so, you get on a straightaway, stomp on the accelerator, the turbocharger kicks in, and the raspy staccato from the mortar tube sized exhausts raises to a thundering crescendo. Two corners away you realize that this is as close as you will get to piloting a competition Ford Focus, say in a FIA World Rally championship. The quiet Playa Del Rey neighborhood morphs into the mountain tarmac stage of the Monte Carlo Rally, and the banter on the morning talk show on the local radio sharpens into your co-pilot's voice reading the stage notes. To call this experience exhilarating is a poor choice of an adjective. Once the testosterone has drained, and the adrenaline level returns to normal, you decide to follow the flow of the leisurely morning traffic. As if by magic, the racing machine turns into a docile commuter, its four cylinder 2.0 liter Eco-boost engine quietly looking forward to the 26 miles per gallon combined fuel consumption—easily achievable if the driver is willing. This sudden inconspicuous character of your hatchback is belied by the racing stripes, rear wing, and Carroll Shelby's beloved number 98 decal on the front doors (Shelby Competition graphics option). And you'd swear you caught a glimpse of a man, with that inimitable Texas smirk under a wide-brimmed black hat, looking at one of his creations ready for mischief on the Southern California roads.

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The 2013 Shelby Ford Focus ST adds fifteen thousand dollars to the price of the base car. Besides the visual elements, this will get you a Borla exhaust, a Ford Racing suspension package, brake upgrades, and a short-throw shifter. Inside, a leather reupholstered Recaro-Katzkin seat will keep your glutes planted through the high speed cornering. Not enough power? With today's technology, there are many cars on the road, Shelby’s included, with far more than 275 horses under the hood, but very few of them match the nimbleness, tight feeling, and overall handling of this Focus. Carroll would be the first one to tell you that there are many more elements to a successful competition car than raw horsepower alone. Driving around makes you quickly realize how well thought-out upgrade of a modern chassis Shelby Focus ST is. The near elimination of torque steer alone, achieved by a precision balancing of the engine mounts, is worth every penny. For a limited edition high-performance car the forty thousand dollar price tag is more than reasonable. The closest comparison is a 2010 Ford Focus RS, the car built in Europe for the FIA homologation, and not available here. The car had a 2.5 liter engine, 305 horsepower, and reportedly enough torque steer to drive sideways. Today, the used RS is selling in UK for over £20,000. In 2010, a dealership in Mexico, just across the border from Texas, was offering a Focus RS for $45,000 with no guaranty that the car could ever be legally registered in the United States.

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Notwithstanding the available design options, if I were buying one of the five hundred Focuses that Shelby plans to build, I would order the most ordinary livery available. Borla exhaust and tires would be a giveaway, but it would be so nice to cruise around unnoticed, and yet in possession of powers and performance that few can see. And all this at an estimated 26 miles per gallon average—not to mention feeling that Texas smirk every time I started the engine. For more information about the Shelby Focus, go to shelbyamerican.com/2013shelbyfocus SPECIFICATIONS Name of vehicle: 2013 Shelby Ford Focus ST Price: $40,000.00 combined (est.) EPA mileage estimates 26 mpg overall (est.)

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Engine type: Turbocharged, in-line four-cylinder 2.0 liter gasoline engine with direct injection Horsepower: 275 Torque: 321 pound-feet Drive configuration: Front wheel drive Transmission type: Manual six speed with short throw Suspension: Front: Independent McPherson with Eibach competition struts Rear: Independent short-and-long arm (SLA) with one upper and two lower control arms Steering: Rack and pinion Wheels: 18-inch with 235/40 ZR18H Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires Brakes Front: Shelby-Wilwood with six piston calipers and 14-inch rotors Brakes Rear: 10.7-inch (est.) drilled rotor upgrade Weight: 3226 lbs (est.)

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