Across America in the new Focus ST

Three kilometers into our 5,310-kilometer trans-America mission, Webb – my photographer and sole travelling companion – sheepishly admitted he couldn’t “drive stick”. For those of you not fluent in American, this translates as, “I cannot operate a car with a clutch pedal and gearstick.”

Our Focus ST had both a clutch pedal and a gearstick. This, I realised with a groan, meant I’d be driving the entire trip, Los Angeles to New York. In five days. Without using interstates. On my own. This Ambitious Road Trip suddenly seemed very much less amusing than it had done in the pub a few weeks ago.

In fact, on a pitch-dark Sunday night – Webb’s satnav criss-crossing us north out of LA, chasing back roads in a city built around freeways, return flight departing JFK on Friday afternoon – I decided this might be our most stupid idea yet.