Having been in the Automotive business for over 30 years I can honestly say that as enthusiasts, we are finding ourselves in Automotive Prime Time. I state it frequently, but electronics changed our (automotive) world. Ford has done a great job with this car! Given the 2.0 liter, the power output is nothing short of miraculous. And still, it idles silky smooth and drives like a well-tuned naturally aspirated 4 cylinder engine when the driver is off the turbo. Give it some throttle though, and the car takes off like a hiker being chased by a bear.
Once behind the wheel, there will be no mistaking as to the purpose of the car. The leather wrapped Recaro seats ensure the driver can stay properly positioned during spirited driving. The seats have a really high seat back and headrest, which is a great idea because driver and passenger alike will understand the need for the headrest once the throttle is opened. The car just scoots.
The 6-speed manual transmission shifts like nothing I’ve driven before. Its detents are so definite, and yet no excessive pressure is required to shift quickly. It is a transmission that begs to be shifted – the pilot can be gentle, and accomplish the task with ease. There is no point in being rough with the shifter as being ham-fisted gains the driver nothing – it just isn’t required.
Make no mistake – I love this car and how Ford has put it together. The styling works for me. My comments are considerations much more than criticisms.
This is a purpose-built car, and the purpose is to rip around quickly. Even though it is civilized to drive every day, it wouldn’t be my choice for a daily driver. Why? The Recaro seats, while guaranteeing to hold the driver firmly while cornering and tossing the car around, would be simply too tight for me on a long haul. I wouldn’t want to park myself for a whole day behind the wheel and drive out to Vancouver. The cockpit of the car is tight. That is not so much of a problem, as once you are in, you are in! And speaking about being in, the tester came with all the bells and whistles that modern Ford customers have come to expect.
The suspension is biased towards hard cornering and track use. Again, this is not a problem given the destiny of the car, but don’t buy a rocket like the ST and expect a silky smooth ride. It just isn’t going to happen. Having said all that, Ford has done a nice job of finding the balance between handling and harshness, but the bias towards performance is evident.
Maybe the biggest problem with this car is that the power is so darn addictive! I found it hard to keep my foot off the throttle and every short blast of power brought a smile to my face. I am still so blown away at the way the engine works in this car. There is zero turbo lag – throttle response is instantaneous and gratifying. Maybe it is because I grew up riding two-stroke dirt bikes that I love that rush of power. Whatever. It doesn’t matter. The engine delivers the power so quickly and smoothly, it is a total rush.
Well done, Ford! I’m a believer!