This is a repost from my initial drive of the Ford Focus ST in June of 2012. By: Ron Myers Photos: the author and Ford Motor Company An Invitation to Where? "Is your passport up-to-date?", asked the voice on the other end of the line. I was slightly embarrassed to reply. "Uh, I don't even have a passport." The voice fired back, "Get one." Click. And, so it began. I knew with the reports that the Wayne, MI plant was beginning the pilot builds of the 2013 Focus ST that the call to sample Ford's latest hot hatch would be imminent. What I didn't expect was that my time behind the wheel would be spent flinging it around the mountains just off the coast of the French Riviera. Exotic locale aside, I was simply geeked for seat time in the most anticipated small, performance Ford since the beloved, but ultimately canceled, SVT Focus. Travel plans were confirmed. European power converters were purchased. And, with passport in hand, I boarded the first of several aircraft that would eventually place my well-worn Piloti driving shoes down on terra firma in the South of France—Nice, to be exact. From there, it was a short drive to what would be my home base for the next two days. Mildly jet-lagged, I decided to grab a quick bit of sleep to place me at the top of my game for what awaited the next day. Tomorrow arrived. Early. I was eating breakfast at what would have normally been midnight back home. All I can say is that the French like their salty meats and cheese for breakfast. Eggs? Nowhere to be found. But, the staff would eagerly cook some, if desired. No time for that. Knowing that a fresh ST was waiting, fully-fueled, for me in the hotel's garage had me devouring the French offerings. The mountains beckoned. As is customary on these media drives, or "programs" as the journalists are so keen to call them, you are paired up two to a car. My fear is always that I'll draw some squid that is going to either drive too slow or put my life in danger. Here's a dirty little secret. Not all automotive journalists have Michael Schumacher-like skills. Luckily, I had met a great bloke at dinner the night before, and he seemed like a very competent co-driver. He, like me, was a tall guy who liked small cars. Funny how that always seems to be the case. But, when I say tall, I mean tall. Bengt Halvorson is 6'6". You can read his ST review here. The plan was to drive the whole day with three stops: two mid-point breaks plus lunch. That would mean that each of us would get two stints behind the wheel. I let Bengt take the first one. Since he had just been in this area of France a couple of weeks earlier (driving some fire-breathing AMG), I figured he might be better suited to get us acclimated to the geography. As it turns out, Ford had cleverly programmed our entire route in the ST's nav system, which was awesome, as I'm use to reading odometer-based pace notes on these drives. So, with the synthesized voice of the young lady guiding us, all we had to do was drive. Brilliant. As we started on our route, my trepidation was quickly allayed, as Bengt proved to be accomplished wheelman. This was going to be fun. Now is when we should get some housekeeping items out of the way. If you've read this far, you probably already know manufacturer specs or at least the ones that matter: 252 (horsepower), 270 (lb. ft. of torque) and 3223 (curb weight). (Two out of three ain't bad. I kid.) Ford has also brought some of their top-tier suppliers to the ST party: Borg-Warner, Getrag, Recaro – all names that have been associated with past performance cars. So, on paper, this thing seems to 'tick all the right boxes.' Let's talk about the reality. Exterior When you approach the ST from any angle—especially the front—there is no confusion about this car's intensions. Ford designers added well-placed edginess to the already handsome Focus shape. It's aggressive without going overboard. I would defy anyone to describe the looks as 'boy racer.' A lot of hay has been made online deriding the 'catfish' maw. Love it or hate it, there is a current trend in performance car design language towards oversized front apertures. Large intake areas are meant to indicate that this car needs a lot of air to breath, largely because it's an athlete. Whether you like that or not is, of course, personal preference. If it's not your cup of tea, there are other alternatives rallying for your dollars. The rest of the car looks purposeful. From the 18" anthracite wheels to the body kit and rear spoiler, this car follows the tone set by previous models of the ST.