Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Devon Focuses on a New Ford (Used)

Pre-facelift Blue Ford Focus in the Philippines.jpg

If you considered a Ford Focus in the past, most likely you'd pick one because there were massive discounts or you were given one as a rental car. The new Focus is a breathe of fresh air in the crowded compact car market. It's stylish, affordable and offers tons of technology that can rival some of the more expensive luxury brands. 

Does the new Focus have what it takes to shake off the rental car image and be a serious contender in the compact car segment? Or is this another "all style no substance" vehicle? Let's find out.

Performance: The Focus can be had with two engine choices. There's a 2-liter four-cylinder producing 160hp and a 2-liter turbocharged four-cylinder producing 252hp at the top end of the range. The more mainstream 2-liter 160hp engine is the pick of the range. It may not offer the fire breathing turbo engine from the ST, but it's quite enough for what it has to offer. Acceleration is decent around town and on the highway. Fuel economy isn't bad either. 

Ride & Handling: The Focus is quite a joy to drive around twisty bends and even on the highway. The ride comfort and overall handling is one of the sweet spots. Body control is good and steering feedback is very communicative. It may not be as sharp as the Volkswagen Golf, but it does it's job really well. The ST has a firmer suspension which results in a firmer ride. The trade off is the handling is spot on good, but still lags behind the Volkswagen GTI finesse. 

Refinement: Wind and road noise are so well suppressed in the Focus that you'd think you were in a larger more expensive vehicle. Both engines operate smoothly even at highway speeds. The ST turbo engine racy exhaust note makes it more addicting to push harder on the highway. The manual gearbox is the better choose with slick gear change and overall feel of the clutch makes it easy to deal with as a daily driver. The six-speed automatic offered is smooth but often hesitates between gears, making it feel rather jerky at low speeds. 

Behind the wheel: The driving position in the Focus is spot on. There's plenty of adjustments for the driver's seat and steering wheel. Visibility is good thanks to nicely sized windows and exterior mirrors. The dashboard is too button busy for our tastes. Many of the controls are rather fiddly and can be somewhat distracting. 

Space & Practicality: Although the Focus is small on the outside, space for four adults in the inside is possible. Leg and headroom is decent all-round. The boot isn't massive, but for the amount of space that it has most will find it quite enough to meet their needs. 

Equipment: The Focus comes well equipped even in base trim. Air-conditioning, stability control, CD-player and air-con all come standard on the base trim. Mid-range SE trim adds alloy wheels, cruise control and auto headlights. Top of the range Titanium trim adds leather trimmed seats, reverse sensors and a dual-zone climate control. ST adds turbo engine, unique ST grille and fog lights with a six-speed manual gearbox. 

Buying & Owning: The Focus base price is competitively priced with the Golf and Civic. The higher the trims you climb the more kit you get, but the higher the price will climb. Running costs will be decent thanks to good fuel economy, while resale value should be good thanks to strong demand. The ST trim will be slightly more expensive than the mainstream Focus, but the thumping performance makes up for the price. 

Quality & reliability: The quality and feel of the cabin materials are very good. This is a step up for Ford because in previous generations of the Focus, many of the plastics felt cheap and scratchy. Reliability of the Focus has been a mixed bag. Many owners have complained about the radiator and also the automatic transmission. 

Safety & Security: All Focus trims adds front and side curtain airbags standard. Traction control, anti-lock brakes and stability control are also standard. Tire pressure monitors are standard across the range as well. Anti-theft system is standard while anti-theft alarm is optional. 

The Ford Focus is a vastly improved vehicle overall. The interior has been improved and the overall image of the vehicle is no longer a rental car or the bland unappealing Focus of the previous generations. Ford has finally stepped up its game and given a Focus that's worthy of consideration in the small car segment. However, the dashboard is button crowded with fiddly operation and the reliability record is iffy. Overall the Focus is a step up in the right direction but needs some improvements in areas that matter to buyers the most. 

Devon's Pick: The SE trim is all the Focus you'll ever need. It offers decent kit and the engine offers enough oomph for both city and highway driving. Low running cost and decent asking price makes this trim ideally the pick of the range. 

Likes: Fun to drive with sharp steering and excellent body control. Thumping turbo engine in ST trim. Plenty of luxury options for very little money. 

Dislikes: Iffy reliability record, dashboard is rather button crowded with fiddly operation. MyFord Touch system is fiddly to operate and distracting to use. No engine to pick between the mainstream Focus and ST trim. 

Devon M 

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