2013 Detroit: The high-performance Shelby Focus ST puts the hot back in hatchbacks
Shelby American will apply some of its founders' chili spice to the Ford Focus ST, creating an even hotter high-performance hatch.
To be limited to 500 cars per year, the Shelby Focus ST is a bumper-to-bumper transformation of an already sporty car. While this may seem a real departure for the company best known for its Mustang handiwork, remember that Carroll Shelby helped turn plain-jane Dodge economy boxes into pocket rockets with the Omni GLH and GLH-S back in the '80s. The dearly departed automotive legend's company is continuing his traditions with this product-line expansion.
The Shelby Focus ST starts with a donor car, costing about $24,000. Shelby then strips off much of the hardware, replacing it with its own brakes, wheels, tires, suspension, exhaust, and shifter. Then the company dresses up the engine compartment, cabin, and finishes exterior modifications with hood heat extractors, grille insert, graphics, and badging. Total cost is $14,995, and Shelby keeps all take-off parts.
Shelby claims the car will deliver up to 40 mpg, a milestone we had seen in a couple tested Focus models on our highway cycle. However, the EPA-rating for the 252-horsepower ST is a bit less at 23 mpg city, 32 mpg highway. Shelby officials say certification and some development is still underway. Likely, they will amend this claim... or perform a mechanical miracle.
Once you get past the grin-inducing visual presence, you realize there are no functional engine modifications at this price. (Total cost thus far is about $40,000, plus transportation fees.) The company is working on a Shelby Performance Tune package, which officials say could boost output from 35 to 50 hp. In addition, a carbon-fiber hood will be offered.
Very cool little car, but it does strike me that there may not be more than 500 potential customers in a year, especially when Blue Oval enthusiasts can find so much thrill in a Mustang for less.
Shelby had several other brash models on display, demonstrating the range of Mustang modification potential. A couple of us kept going back to the widebody treatment given to a couple of the cars, with dramatic fender flares. A complete conversion expands the rear six inches and the front by three inches, allowing the fitment of 20x13-inch wheels rear, 20x10-inch front. Bodywork and rolling stock included, the modification runs $18,000.