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Ford Focus, Future Vehicle, Hatchback, Sedan, Wagon
#40 of 79 Current Focus vs 2008
Jan 15, 2007 (6:07 pm)
I like the current Focus well enough to own a 2005 ST. It's not pretty, but it does look purposeful and European. The ST is a real joy to drive. The 2005-2007 Focus certainly looks better in person than it photographs. The tall architecture makes for great interior room, but also makes the wheels and tires look smaller than a lower slung car like the Civic.
The new 2008 has much more surface detail going on, maybe too much as the front end looks fussy to me. The '08's higher beltline does look longer, but the tires and wheels still look small. Perhaps it too will look better in person than in photographs, but it doesn't appear to have been a winner on the Detroit exhibit floor where people did see it in the flesh.
I understand the business case for simplifying the model line, but the 2008 refresh may be too little and the 2010 total redo may be too late for Ford. The interior appears to be a big step up from the 2005 refresh. I just don't know if the outside styling will get enough people to sample that new interior.
The real Ford news may be that a new B-class (next size smaller than the Focus) is slated for the US market no later than 2009. The B-class may be where Ford's limited money and resources are focused. I've got my fingers crossed, Ford is running out of time for a hit.
No matter how good the 2008 Focus is, the new Saturn Astra is going to get more attention and is likely to seize the space that could have belonged to a truly new Focus. Ford lacks momentum. GM for all its troubles has more mo and more hope. A Saturn Corsa may not be far behind the Astra. Ford has to be better than the new Corsa and Yaris. Equal or also ran will not be enough.
#41 of 79 2008 Focus - more images
Jan 18, 2007 (8:04 am)
Ford has their site with more information and images...
2008 Ford Focus
#43 of 79 Re: 2008 Ford Focus future vehicle [lmgt1]
Jan 19, 2007 (1:11 am)
"Bring the new Euro Forus to America. Don't tell us it's too big. Don't tell us it's too 'upscale'. Give us a car we are ASKING to buy."
The grass is always greener on the other side, but is it really?
Our '08 Focus may be embarrassingly ugly. But Europe's bulky expensive alternative isn't as mighty as you think, especially when the nose is heavier than 4 cylinders:
"However, the ST can't disguise its turbocharger as effectively as the Golf. There's small but noticeable lag when you first get hard on the power, and between full-bore shifts the engine takes a moment or two to catch its breath and resume the accelerative fireworks. Through a sequence of corners where you're often switching between strong throttle applications and then calling on some useful engine braking, the delivery can get a little jerky, too.
The ST's ESP system has to work hard to contain the power despite the broad 225/40 R18 Continental rubber. And although it's certainly very efficient at trimming any excesses, you soon feel that it's perhaps a little too eager. Switch it out and the front tyres can easily be overwhelmed once you've clipped an apex and gunned the engine. Eke out the power more gently and the ST stays nice and neutral, and only when the corner has really opened out and you hit full power do you feel the front wheels tugging from left to right.
Torque-steer in a front-drive car of this potency is almost unavoidable, and the Focus is certainly no more prone to it than, say, the Mégane Trophy. Even so, you sense that Ford has tried to soften the effect before it reaches the steering wheel. The result is that much of the textural feedback that you'd experience in a cooking Focus has been lost.
Push harder, give the engine a free rein, and that five-cylinder unit really begins to dominate. In terms of raw speed it's very impressive, effortless when you're stroking it along and relentless when you're asking for all it's got to give. Unfortunately, for all the power it generates on the straights, it seriously hampers the ST through the corners.
The nose-heavy balance and fairly marked body-roll means that understeer arrives earlier than expected, and it's pretty tricky to neutralise completely. Get out of the throttle and the weight shifts, unloading the rears and progressively restoring grip to the front tyres. It all feels great, until you realise that the Focus's inherent adjustability isn't enough to fully overcome the weight up front. By mid-corner the rear tyres are gripping again and the fronts are pushing-on, away from your chosen line and bleeding away the bulk of the forward thrust through rampant wheelspin.
If you've got the room and the right corner ahead of you, the ST can be made to steer from the rear rather than the front, but it takes a fairly extreme lift-and-lob or heavy braking into the heart of the corner to unsettle the car enough to need opposite lock. In the real world this is not such a huge problem, but the fact that when you're driving quickly and smoothly the ST predominantly understeers and feels just a fraction stodgy is disappointing.
I'm loath to criticise the ST because it really is an excellent package. There's ample performance, it looks great and the ride and general feel of the car at anything up to eight-tenths is spot-on. As a car to own, I think it would be a pleasure. However, just when you want it to throw off its sensible shoes and goad you into really going for it, the ST gets a little sulky, a little detached. The Golf GTI remains the benchmark.
+: Value, performance, integrity
-: Big engine compromises handling"
No wonder the Mazdaspeed3 didn't follow the big bros -- Volvo/Ford -- & used 4-cyl turbo instead.
Perhaps that's why Ford didn't even bother to import the C-1 Focus here, where buyers are too cheap to pay higher than Fusion's price unless it's got a Mazda/Volvo badge.
#44 of 79 4/5 Starts for the new focus
Jan 19, 2007 (6:21 am)
Wow!!! 4 out 5 stars rated by EVO magazine for Euro Focus. And EVO magazine, as we all know, really only reviews high-performance cars. Very impressive.
Wonder how many stars the bastard US focus would received?? hmmmm... maybe 1 out 5 would be kind.
#45 of 79 Re: 4/5 Starts for the new focus [lmgt1]
Jan 19, 2007 (6:48 am)
On my last business trip to Europe (Geneva, Switzerland), I rented a 5-speed Euro Focus. Great car, slick gearbox, and really fun to drive. When I picked my Swiss colleague up at the train station, he was shocked to discover it was a 5-speed manual. He remarked: "I thought Americans only drive automatics!" So, it does seem that perception is endemic worldwide, as it's essentially true.
I, too, wish Ford would "get the message" and bring the Euro Focus, and other Ford products like the current Mondeo, over to the USA. I know I would buy one, but I won't buy the new Focus. It's really unfortunate that Ford's management is really out of touch with consumers' desires and wishes. I would gladly pay over $20K for a Euro Focus. I think the basic problem is that all domestic manufacturers still equate small to cheap - Big Mistake on their part.
#46 of 79 Re: 4/5 Starts for the new focus [w9cw]
Jan 19, 2007 (8:38 am)
The runaway success of the Mini should forever dispell the myth that Americans won't drive a premium subcompact costing over $20,000. I believe there is plenty of room in the market for additional models like the Euro-Focus, especially when one considers the cost of parts and service for the Mini. Of course, this argument would fall apart entirely if Ford failed to improve quality to the point that the new Focus wasn't in the shop twice as often as the Mini. But... for the sake of this discussion, let's assume Ford has finally managed to solve it's fundamental quality issues.
So, where's the Euro-Focus!?! What makes the Europeans so special that they deserve the premium model while we have to dance with its ugly cousin? And how much money is wasted designing, engineering, manufacturing, and supporting two models rather than one world-car? That has never made sense to me.
The idea of a single platform for each market level seems to have caught on (Mazda3, Volvo S40, EuroFocus plus some GM models), but Ford continues to drag its feet when it comes to the US Focus. Why? Import it from Europe if you have to, but please offer a car worth buying! Or give up. Either way is okay with me.
#47 of 79 Re: 4/5 Starts for the new focus [jmiller1984]
Jan 19, 2007 (9:14 am)
It's interesting because I was watching an old episode of Top Gear the other day and they were discussing the Mazda 3 hatch and the VW Golf. When asked which vehicle they would buy the guy said Ford Focus (old one). They said the Focus was more fun to drive and while the Mazda is more refined, it was too boring. They recommended that people run out and buy the old Focus before Ford ruins it with a re-engineering. I try not to take anything from Top Gear too seriously, but I really think the old Focus was a strong offering. I own one and it's a blast to drive. To me Ford should have upgraded the powertrains. A 4 speed tranny just isn't enough and there's no reason why the Focus 2.0L should get fewer than Mazda's when it's the same engine. Also getting rid of the 2.3L was a poor decision. The interior looks amazing though and that's my biggest complaint about the Focus. I'll have to get a closer look before I make any final judgements though.
#48 of 79 Re: 4/5 Starts for the new focus [jmiller1984]
Jan 19, 2007 (9:31 am)
If your able, travel to Europe some time. The Europeans seem to get all of the good/neat cars, and the variety to choose from is substantial. Every time I'm there, I envy the European consumer. Yes, they pay more for a given vehicle perhaps, but they are not boring cars, plus all seem to be very well made.
#49 of 79 Re: 4/5 Starts for the new focus [comp386]
Jan 19, 2007 (11:48 pm)
“It's interesting because I was watching an old episode of Top Gear the other day and they were discussing the Mazda 3 hatch and the VW Golf. When asked which vehicle they would buy the guy said Ford Focus (old one). They said the Focus was more fun to drive and while the Mazda is more refined, it was too boring. They recommended that people run out and buy the old Focus before Ford ruins it with a re-engineering”
There you have it. Why whine about not getting the new C-1? 'cause the old one's more fun!
Lately, a new feature for the C-1 Focus is a 3-setting pwr-steering adjustment, but... Skidding the high-tech rear predictably is what the original Focus was about. & the C-1 Focus had it "engineered" out.
While the C-1 Mazda3 has the oversteer dialed in, it does more than what you ask for. So don't switch its optional DSC off too often.
The Focus SVT (mechanically identical to the Euro-spec Focus ST170) was so good it beated the Mini Cooper in both ride and handling, plus better steering, room, price & reliability (per Consumer Reports comparison test a few years back).
Lately, the Focus & the Mini are no longer very unreliable. Mini sells well at high price b/c girls find it about the only cute & innocent looking car around. & Ford forgot about the cuteness when copying the old Prius this time on the new '08 Focus coupe -- oops!