Thursday, October 12, 2017

Ford needs to 'refocus' on the Focus


Brand new Ford Focus 1.0 Ecoboost (2014) (16063440736).jpg
The Ford Focus was one of many vehicles that helped keep Ford ‘focused’ in the right direction, and the sales of it proved that Ford knows a thing or two about small cars. But with several new rivals that have caught on, does the Focus still offer a valid reason to consider one?

The standard 2-liter four-cylinder engine seems to be the only way to go here. We applaud Ford for offering the 1-liter ecoboost3-cylinder engine, but it just doesn’t feel as flexible as you’d think since it has a turbocharger. There isn’t much torque at low revs compared to the 2-liter non-turbo and the fact that you have to pay a premium over that engine proves buying this engine is a false economy. We would boost about how low the running costs are, but our figures were so close to the 2-liter engine that we couldn’t even recommend it even if we wanted to. It might be great for those seeking a non-hybrid option, but for those individuals they’re most likely going to stick to city driving and staying in the cruising lane on the highway with this engine.

The Focus just doesn’t seem a sharp to drive as the Volkswagen Golf, but it certainly isn’t far from it. The steering feedback is good and the car handles nicely. The only way you can get a sharper to drive chassis is to opt for the ST, but in this review we’re only going to ‘focus’ on the mainstream versions. Our tester car came fitted with the optional 1-liter ecoboost3-cylinder engine and like we said prior, it didn’t feel all the flexible to drive where it matters most. You’ll find yourself shifting down a gear to keep the momentum going, the way the gearing is set up with the manual gearbox makes livability of that gearbox itself questionable. It certainly does feel strange as it forces you to shift up sooner than you’d like all in the name of fuel consumption, and that aspect of it really isn’t anything to brag about. We’ve test driven the 2-liter four-cylinder with the six-speed auto gearbox and it certainly didn’t win any fans with us. The gearbox was way too slow to react and was jerky in between shifts making it very uncomfortable to drive. We have yet to test the new Focus with the retooled six-speed auto gearbox.

Our tester car didn’t come equipped with the large infotainment system that is standard on the higher spec’d trims. The tiny 5-inch display is fine, but the dashboard is way too fiddly to navigate through. The front seats offer plenty of support and while those in the rear seat won’t have anything to complain about. The hatch makes more sense if you are seeking versatility as the sedan, while it may be the popular choice for some doesn’t have the eye appeal that the hatchback has. The portions seem really off and the boot space is nowhere near as practical.

Our tester car came fitted with 17-inch alloy wheels, fog lamps, rear disc brakes and the 1-liter ecoboost3-cylinder engine. Bluetooth, keyless entry, automatic headlamps and active grill shutters are also fitted as standard. You’ll have to pay extra for that turbocharged three-cylinder engine and you can’t get this engine on the hatchback.

 The Ford Focus may not be on everyone’s shortlist but it certainly is a vehicle worth considering if you aren’t swayed by the Golf or vast number of options in this segment. We however certainly wouldn’t option for one as the engine choices aren’t the most inspiring, and the build quality we are still iffy about as Ford’s track record with the Focus hasn’t been the greatest. You’ll have to be daft to overlook the Mazda3 and all the other choices that are just as fun to drive, offer low running costs and don’t feel as sparsely kitted as the Focus. There is a new Focus around the corner and is worth waiting for if you have your heart set out on a Focus. You’ll be bitterly disappointed if you buy this current generation.

Likes: The hatchback is practical and is slightly more stylish than the sedan. Running costs are decent and it’s actually surprisingly sharp to drive.

Dislikes: The turbo three-cylinder is a false economy. We still are iffy with quality and reliability. Wait for the next generation to arrive.

Our pick: The SEL hatch seems to offer a striking balance between price and standard kit. You’ll want to do whatever you can to avoid the entry-level SE version which gets the tiny infotainment screen and button happy dashboard.

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