Ford Focus

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I wasn't among the first to ever drive a Ford Focus, by choice.  I didn't like the rear end treatment of the hatch in particular which will never in my eyes look like it belongs on a car.  The Ford stylists certainly ran out of imagination there, never mind.  Also, when presented with 'just another hatchback' the motivation to analyse is not great and it was only by the vehicle allocation quirks of Hertz, Avis and the like that I ended up driving 3 Focuses this year.

My first Focus was a 1.6GL hatch which gave admirable service driving up the mountain from the Geneva Motor Show to a French Logis somewhere well into the Jura mountain snows.  I was impressed by the quietness, the smooth ride and excellent road-holding, but less impressed by the interior quality and finish, equipment (or lack of) and the lightness of the controls - perhaps designed for 'granny' use?

My second encounter was of a face-lifted 1.4 base hatch.  I really don't think Ford are doing themselves any favours with this car - far too light on the road, little sound insulation, zero equipment and seats that you perched on top of - rather than sat in - made this a forgettable experience.

My recent experience was of a face-lifted 1.6 Ghia Estate.  Having disposed of the hatches gruesome tailgate, at last this car looks good and the 'edge' design can be appreciated much better.  The interior is now much improved in quality and fit (although I fail to see the point of  plastic 'wood' in a charcoal colour with almost zero grain) and the equipment levels were high.  Practicality of the estate is also excellent with a versatile interior configuration, security pockets etc., being all well thought out.  I noted that Ford have not given in to the temptation to fit alloy wheels as standard, and coupled with '65' profile tyres this car gives a quiet and comfortable ride with excellent road-holding.  

As for engine power, the 1.6 is definitely marginal in the Estate, needing a lot of gear-changing to maintain smart progress cross-country, while the fuel consumption suffered accordingly with only 30mpg being recorded.  I was not impressed by what appeared to be almost 'diesel' levels of clatter on starting and low speed take-up.

For me, the Focus still suffers from over-light controls but this is something I could get used to.  As often happens when you drive a different car, I noticed many Focus estates on the road (why were they all silver like mine?) and a high proportion of them seemed to be Ghia's.  Perhaps there are a lot of astute Ford employees in the Frankfurt to Bonn area?

So, overall as has been predicted by everybody else already, I believe the Focus is an important car for Ford, although I can imagine the new Fiesta cannibalising Focus sales.  More progressive controls would be a grand idea, and in the next face-lift they need to sort out that ghastly rear hatch door.  Oh, and they could axe the 4-door saloon, the boot of which defies description.  

Would I have one?  Yes, but it would need to be a Ghia estate.


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Last modified: January 10, 2013