A GOOD CHOICE
One of the really big players in the compact car field is the Ford Focus. Nearly 235,000 copies of these cars passed through dealer’s doors last year. That’s no mean feat since the Focus competes in one of the toughest segments in the car market, with the likes of the Honda Civic and the Toyota Corolla.
Ford offers the Focus in two body styles, hatchback and sedan. The hatchback has the sportier look, and appeals to the “active lifestyle” buyer, whereas the sedan appears more refined, and attracts family types. Although the Focus was introduced for 2012, its styling still looks fresh.
Beyond the eye-catching sheetmetal, Ford took pains to make the interior high-tech and attractive. They started by furnishing it with high quality materials. The dash, doors and armrests are clad in soothing soft-touch vinyl. The classy center control panel on my Titanium test car featured an 8-inch touchscreen and the MyFord Touch interface. Drivers can poke virtual buttons on the screen to activate audio, climate control, phone and navigation. The system is not immediately transparent, but not difficult to operate, once you know how. Alternatively, drivers can use voice commands, via Ford’s SYNC program, to perform most of the same functions.
Accommodations in the Focus are good for the most part. Seats up front are roomy and supportive. The driver’s bucket was power operated on my test car. Legroom in the rear is a bit tight, but should be okay for smaller adults and kids. Cargo space varies widely between the sedan and hatchback. The sedan’s trunk measures 13.2 cu.-ft.; the hatch is much more spacious with 23.8 cubes of carrying capacity.
Ford offers the Focus in five models, S, SE, ST, Titanium and Electric. The S is the bare-bones model available only as a sedan. The SE adds amenities, like Bluetooth and cruise control, and provides access to option packages. The ST sport model delivers more body trim and performance features. Titanium provides luxury (more on this shortly) and the Electric is the plug-in type with a range of 76 miles.
The Titanium that came my way was nicely equipped with standard 17-inch alloy wheels, leather upholstery, heated front seats (with power adjusters for the driver) and satellite radio. Additionally, it had upscale features like push-button entry/start, a rearview camera and parking sensors at no extra charge. A nav system was its only significant option.
Under the hood, Ford powers most Focus models with a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine that puts out 160 hp. A five-speed manual gearbox is standard on the S and SE, and an automated manual transmission that functions like a conventional automatic is optional on these models, and standard on the Titanium. The ST gets a turbocharged engine with 252 horses, and the Electric uses a 107-kilowatt motor with 143.
My Titanium test car was quick off the line and pulled strongly going up hills. The dual-clutch automated manual delivered timely downshifts when asked to, and a “sport” position on the shifter allowed me choose gears manually at my discretion. The Focus felt well balanced on the road. It handled corners with only modest body-lean. (However, if you are looking for superior performance and handling go with the ST model.) The ride was compliant on all but the roughest roads.
Price-wise, Focus gas-powered models start at $17,105 for the S model sedan, and range up to $24,910 for the Titanium and ST hatchbacks. My Titanium sedan, with optional navigation and special paint had a suggested retail price of $25,500. If you choose the Electric Focus, you’ll pay a hefty $39,995.
High Quality Cabin