Is Ford’s new Focus worth a look?
Everyone’s familiar with the previous-generation Ford Focus, with its triangular headlamps and taillights. When it was launched, it was a cutting-edge small car in Europe — and promptly shot to the top of bestseller lists.
When it was brought here for our consumption, it ended up as a slightly watered-down version of the car the rest of the world was getting. A few years ago in Europe, they introduced an all-new second-generation Focus.
For our new 2008 Focus? Ford re-engineered the old model, dropped the hatchback and wagon variants, and introduced a coupe. What gives? Weird as it may sound, but by reducing the range to two models, the Focus has become a little blurry.
To start with, you would be hard-pressed to notice the connection between the old and new Focus models, as the 2008 version is significantly better screwed together, quieter and better to drive. Power arrives via a 140-horsepower, 2.0-litre, four-cylinder engine, mated to either a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmission.
Pricing starts at $15,999 for the Focus Coupe or Sedan — a not-insignificant sum that is actually $600 more than a better-equipped five-door Volkswagen City Golf. Real transaction prices for the Focus (what you can negotiate?) will most likely be significantly less than the $16,000 asking price, though.
Standard are power front-disc and rear-drum brakes, power steering, five-speed manual transmission, AM/FM single CD/MP3 player with four speakers and audio input jack, two 12-volt power points, floor mats, 60/40-split rear seat, passive anti-theft system, and Sirius satellite radio.
Available options include 16-inch aluminum wheels, six-disc AM/FM/MP3 audio system with four speakers and an eight-inch subwoofer, Ford Sync, interior ambient lighting system, four-speed automatic transmission, ABS with traction control, sunroof, perimeter alarm system, heated seats, and leather-trimmed seating surfaces.
There are also three option packages: SES Appearance Package, SES, and SE that include popular options for a discount.
Styling-wise, the 2008 Focus is a love-or-hate proposition, with large square headlights, a pert tail, and chromed ‘F’ non-functioning side vents — either for ‘Ford,’ ‘Focus’ or ‘Fake.’
Inside, the cabin is much-improved, and you can option out the Ford/Microsoft Sync system, which allows complete MP3 player connectivity, Bluetooth phone integration, and unsurpassed voice commands. I could write a book on Sync, but needless to say it’s something better sampled for yourself.
Ford is almost pitching the impressive Sync system as the Focus’ marquee feature, but it’s more like asking customers to buy a restaurant to get dessert.