Sometimes the smallest modifications can be among the most fun.
One key feature differentiating Arabis from Mustard is that it’s a DCT-equipped car. A manual would have been fun and I’d have no issues using one as a daily again, but having a DCT here not only makes it easier for the times the car may need to be driven by others, it also lets me experience something different to Mustard or Dijon in that it’s a steering wheel paddle-equipped car as well.
For those unfamiliar with Mk3s, not all DCT cars had SelectShift (allowing manual shifting of the gears*) and not all SelectShift cars had steering wheel paddles. Arabis – being optioned with the Sport Package – gained the paddles in favour of the standard rocker switch on the shift knob, as found in Dijon.
*Side note: while in Dijon (Mk3) gears could only be changed manually in S, in Arabis (Mk3.5) the paddles also function in D. It would seem that the addition of SelectShift in the facelift cars unlocks manual shifting in both modes, interestingly. As well, paddles were only available from factory on the Mk3.5s specifically but can be retrofitted to all DCT Mk3s from 2012 through 2018 – more on that below.
When I found and purchased Arabis I was keen to try living with the paddles and see what I thought of them. I never used the rocker switch in Dijon much because it was a bit silly and not as convenient as the paddles would be; after several months with them I found out that I did rather like them, but there was also a fair bit of room for improvement. Now as much as I adore these cars I can’t ignore that they are what they are, economical runabouts and not some 911 with a PDK meant to blast around a track. And so, while the stock paddles are a bit silly, most people won’t really be using them. While they of course work just fine from a changing gears perspective, the size and material left something to be desired in my eyes – they were too small and too plastic-y.
These then, are not too small. And not plastic. These aluminum alloy extensions fit right over the factory paddles and install in a few minutes – counting the unboxing time. They’re available from a few places and in a few colours; Carbonsteer carries them for example, but in every available option except black which is what I wanted; I had to go to Amazon to get these instead. Pricing will vary but you can get these for as little as $50-60 Canadian.
Before I opened my set I hadn’t ever seen some of these in person, only in photos online. I must say I was rather impressed upon unwrapping them! The “pocket” in the middle is what fits right over the stock paddle, with a nice plus or minus engraved at both the top and bottom.
While they’re not heavy, they’re certainly heavy enough for what they are. They had a nice weight and felt solid in my hands.
Also included in the box were two pre-cut pieces of 3M to stick these to the stock paddles, as well as eight screws (four per extension) to securely hold them in place and the allen key for said screws.
I would bet that with properly-cleaned surfaces and full adhesion the 3M alone would be more than strong enough to hold these on as they’re not going to see insane stress, but the screws are a nice touch just to really ensure they’re staying put. Once the paddles are stuck on these get tightened down and the points bite into the stock paddles a touch to really lock these extensions in place.
Amusingly, the included allen key is just long enough to clear the bottom of the paddle if you use it in this orientation. It is a bit fiddly to tighten the screws once the extensions are on because you don’t have the best sight lines and there’s a steering wheel in the way, but it doesn’t take long to get them fully secured. I will stress, get the screws started BEFORE putting these on as I’m sure it would be incredibly tedious to do it the other way around.
All prepped – with the 3M in place and screws started – and ready to install!
And just like that they’re on! The fit around the stock paddles was fantastic and with the combo of 3M and screws they don’t budge at all.
The increased surface area is the best feature of these – even making them more comfortable than the stock paddles in my opinion – but the material change also improves the “experience” a lot. They also look better if you ask me, being more pronounced and having the crisp white plus and minus signs. Worth noting is that I had opted for black paddles specifically as the stock paddles will still be visible as you can see here (which means you still see the lit-up plus and minus at night) and having the extensions be the same colour would help look them more at home instead of shouting that they’re add-ons.
As a final note on the extensions themselves, I actually fit these (and took the photos) back in August but purposely held off on posting as I wanted to live with them for a little while first, in case the novelty wore off or for any reason my thoughts on them changed. And they have not – I still am very happy with the extensions and I’m not joking when I say that every time I drive the car I’m glad I added them. I find I actually use the paddles more now with these too! The only final thing I’d like to change about the paddles would be the feel when they’re pulled back as I’d prefer something more defined than the soft “click” they have now (imagine pressing one of the radio or climate buttons – it’s that kind of click), but of course that’s to do with the internals of the OEM paddles. Still though, it would be nice…
So yes, I highly recommend these if you have a DCT car with paddles. For the price you really can’t go wrong and they’re easily my favourite change made to the hatch thus far (not that there have been many, admittedly). But what if you don’t have paddles to begin with? DCT cars without SelectShift can have it retrofitted, and SelectShift cars without paddles can have them retrofitted too (again, all Mk3s and not just 3.5s specifically). Both jobs are outside my area of expertise but there are guides online (José actually pioneered the SelectShift conversion and provided the how-to for the forums!), and I can at least offer the part numbers for the Focus steering wheels and paddles in case anyone wants to look into this. Escapes also had paddle wheels and I imagine they’d be the exact same parts and numbers naturally, but I specifically looked through the Focus catalogue for these:
Paddle-equipped steering wheels:
-Without heating: GJ5Z-3600-BB // With heating: F1EZ-3600-AF
Paddles (in case you need a replacement or want them separately):
-Left (Down): F1EZ-3F884-A // Right (Up): F1EZ-3F884-B
Anyway, that’s all for today! I adore the big changes – like the seat delete covered last week – but it’s always fun when you find something really small and inexpensive that makes a big impact. And these do! Had I known how much I’d prefer them, I would have fit them day one.