Last post on Sep 02, 2013 at 8:37 AM
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Ford Focus, Ford, Car Buying, Future Vehicle, Coupe, Hatchback, Sedan, Wagon
#37 of 1324 Re: E-Mail to Ford on 23-Jan-2011 [shipo]
Jan 29, 2011 (11:24 am)
My response to their response:
Hello [Customer Relations Rep],
Thank you for taking the time to write me regarding my disappointment about the lack of manual transmission availability on the new 2012 Focus Titanium; I appreciate the personal touch in this day and age of automated this-that-and-the-other-thing.
Unfortunately, my feeling is that the information you presented me with sounds like a bunch of marketing double talk. From my perspective, the new 2012 Focus is the very first American car offered to the market in this segment that can compete (and win) against the likes of the Mazda3, the Golf/Rabbit/Jetta/GTI/GLI siblings, the Civic, and the Corolla. Every one of those cars listed offer a manual transmission on all of their various trim levels, and all of them sell well enough to keep the manual transmission in the line-up. If Ford chooses to ignore what their competition is doing, then Ford needs to be prepared to lose sales to said competition.
As for the SelectShift automatic transmission, your marketing department may say it has a "Manual Mode", but saying it doesn't make it so (a true manual mode would require a clutch pedal and an "H-Pattern" shifter to sprout in their proper locations every time the "Manual Mode" option is enabled; something that I doubt will happen anytime soon). The English language is very specific in cases like this; if one were to refer to a dictionary one would see that the SelectShift transmission has a "Semi-Automatic Mode", a mode that is a very poor alternative for those of us whom prefer to shift our transmissions for ourselves.
On the subject of your "extensive market research", all I can say is that if sales of pre-2011 Focus were part of the decision matrix, the selection of this particular metric was a poor choice of criteria. Why? Because the previous Focus was a vehicle that no enthusiast worth his or her salt would even consider over something like the relatively sporty Mazda3. Said another way, for folks (like myself) that prefer a small economical car with good driving dynamics, the pre-2012 Focus wasn't even remotely in the game.
Unless Ford ultimately decides to reverse the arbitrary decision to discriminate against the segment of the driving population which prefers to drive cars with manual transmissions, the 2012 Focus has gone from the number one position on my "short list" of new cars to not even being considered as an "also ran".
I will take your advice and submit a comment under the "Ideas and Suggestions" section of the Ford web site.
#38 of 1324 Re: E-Mail to Ford on 23-Jan-2011 [shipo]
Jan 29, 2011 (11:28 am)
My comments posted to Ford on their "Ideas and Suggestions" contact link:
I've had an E-Mail exchange with [Customer Relations Rep] via Ford's crcfmc-AT-ford.com address regarding the availability of a 2102 Ford Focus Titanium equipped with a manual transmission. As she tells the tale, it's not going to happen; period, full stop, the end. I would like to suggest that Ford offer something along the lines of a limited edition 2012 Focus with a name badge which says “Titanium-M”; an otherwise fully optioned car that can only be had in black with a stick shift. By separating a "Titanium-M” badged Focus from the run-of-the-mill Focus, by bet is that any limited run of such a car would sell out before even the first copy made it to a dealership.
For my part, unless Ford decides to offer the Titanium model with a manual transmission, it looks like my next car will either be another Mazda3 or maybe a VW GTI, both offered with a 6-Speed manual transmission.
#39 of 1324 Re: E-Mail to Ford on 23-Jan-2011 [shipo]
Jan 29, 2011 (12:09 pm)
Myself, I like an automatic tranny, but that "rocker switch" in the new Focus is bogus. Why not a gated shifter, or a slap shift, or paddle shifters? I think the new Explorer has the same thing, which to me is a major turnoff. Sans the rocker switch, the new Focus looks like an impressive car.
#41 of 1324 Re: E-Mail to Ford on 23-Jan-2011 [shipo]
Feb 06, 2011 (9:01 am)
You must be looking at different info than I am. Edmunds.com indicates that heated mirrors are available on the SE. You can also get a lot of telematics (SIRIUS, MyFord, SYNC), leather-trimmed seats, heated front seats, moonroof, alloys, sport-tuned suspension, etc. Quite a lot of equipment for a "base" model. About the only big items missing are navigation and a power driver's seat. I guess if you really need features like climate control, HD radio, and rain-sensing wipers, you won't like the SE. But few (if any?) economy cars come with all those features. Hardly any have power seats. And of course there's portable nav systems.
If you want a top-trim hatch with a stick, there's always the GTI or A3...
#42 of 1324 Re: E-Mail to Ford on 23-Jan-2011 [backy]
Feb 06, 2011 (10:00 am)
Hmmm, when I originally checked the Ford 2012 Focus web site I found I was unable to configure a car with heated mirrors and a manual transmission. Now however, I find the SE is available with the "SE Winter Package" that has heated mirrors, I wonder if that's a late update to the web site. That's a start; a start big enough to possibly tip the balance.
Unfortunately I really want (but don't need) the following unavailable (in a Focus SE/Manual Transmission) options on my next car:
Nice to have options 'cus I like'em:
- Power Seats
- HD Radio (I really could care less about Satellite Radio)
- Sony 10 Speaker Audio System
Options that I've had on other cars and find extremely useful when driving around in areas with highly changeable weather like what we experience here in New England:
- Rain Sensing Wipers
- Dual zone automatic climate control
As for having to go up-market to get the above goodies, nope, not necessary. The Mazda3 s Grand Touring models are configurable with the following features as standard or optional equipment:
- Rain Sensing Wipers
- Automatic Climate Control
- Power Driver's Seat
- Bose Audio System
In addition, the Mazda is available with the following:
- 17" wheels (versus the 16" setup of the Focus SE Sport Package)
- 6-Speed Manual (versus the 5-Speed unit on the Focus SE)
- Xenon headlights (versus the Halogen units on the Focus)
- Most of the other lesser important (to me anyway) features of the Focus Titanium
The problem is, the Mazda is both butt-ugly (to my eye) and gets crummy fuel economy compared to the Focus; that and I've been trying to buy from American companies for quite some time. Other than minivans, the Focus is the first car from an American company I've found which almost fits my requirements (a Titanium with a 6-Speed manual would be literally perfect).
I'm thinking the addition of the SE Winter Package is very likely to have been a late addition to the web site. Why? If you look on the "Exterior Features" tab on the "Compare Models" page, you'll see that the feature called "Power mirrors, body-color, manual fold with integrated side marker lamps" says "Not Available" instead of "Optional".
#43 of 1324 Re: E-Mail to Ford on 23-Jan-2011 [shipo]
Feb 06, 2011 (1:14 pm)
According to Edmunds.com configurator, 17" wheels are available as a separate option on the SE.
You are demonstrating that there is no such thing as a perfect car. So you'll have to decide what's more important to you: buying an American car that looks good to you, or having to man up (wink) and turn on the wipers when it rains, adjust the climate control for yourself (considering that 6 months out of the year in New England, you can just set it to "full heat" and be done with it), adjust the seat with manual controls, and make do with fewer speakers (or install an aftermarket sound system).
To me, the biggest issue with the SE MT would be the lack of a 6-speed. C'mon, Ford, even inexpensive cars like the 2012 Accent get standard 6MTs!
One thing to consider is that you don't have to look at the outside of your car very often--unless you like to sit there staring at it for long periods of time. So I would think the interior and driving experience would be more important to you. And, what's a few bucks more for gas each month if you like the car otherwise?
No, there is no perfect car... only compromises. Which is what makes car shopping fun. If there were perfect cars, what would be the sport in that?
#44 of 1324 cars.com review
Feb 07, 2011 (8:04 am)
I just found this fairly detailed review at cars.com.
Those of you wondering about handling package availability might want to check it out. In short, the Titanium suspension got great reviews, but the normal suspension did very well also. The author also clarifies that there may be some configuration errors on the Ford website.
#45 of 1324 Compact Hatchbacks / Wagons
Feb 07, 2011 (11:33 am)
I stopped by the Washington DC Auto Show over the weekend. I got to check out the 2012 Focus and a number of its competitors. Ford is moving the Focus slightly upscale in the C-segnment, but then again, so is most of the competition, which is good news for those of us who like small cars.
Below are some of my comments on the Focus Hatchback and its competition. (I'm shopping for a hatchback, so sorry to those of you who want to talk about sedans-- no Cruz, etc. here.)
Among the contenders in the "semi-premium, 4-door, compact hatchback" category, the contenders are:
-2012 Ford Focus ($18,790 - $23,490) - 160 hp - I sat behind the wheel of a Titanium Hatchback and Titanium Sedan. The hatchback was decked out with a "Rally" paintjob, but I'm pretty sure that feature was just that: a paintjob on an otherwise normal Titanium. The ST hatchback was also there, up on the closed off pedestal; also a full-blown Focus race car was also available to peep into. I actually don't have a ton to say about the Focus. I think the photos on the web do it justice. The interior was about as nice as I expected. I will admit that I have a hard time distinguishing, at a glance, the Focus from a Fiesta. On the way to work today, I gawked at a 2012 Focus sedan rolling by me and only realized a few minutes later that it was almost certainly a Fiesta. If anyone is interested in the pics I took at the show, let me know and I'll post them up somehow.
-Mazda3 hatchback ($20,045 - $23,010) 148,167 hp - I consider the 3 to be the Focus's most obvious competition. I only spent a fraction of time looking at the 3 at the show. I've always liked the 3, and Mazda sells them like hotcakes around here. Surprisingly, it's somewhat big compared to the Focus (177 inches compared to 171).
-VW Golf 4dr ($19,755 - $24,985) 140, 170 - Though it's a bit small, I consider the Golf to be a natural competitor. The Golf basically invented this segment. I'm fairly impressed by the trunk size of a Golf, considering that it's pretty small compared to the others on this list. I wouldn't go so far as to consider the GTI in this segment.
-Toyota Matrix ($18,545 - $19,265) 132,158 - As far as I know, this was the only Toyota not present at the Auto Show. Apparently, the Matix is currently undergoing some sort of refresh. I test drove a Matrix about 2 years ago; it was a nice car but a bit smaller than what I was looking for at the time.
-Subaru Impreza i ($17,995 - $18,995) 170 - Whoa, I was majorly disappointed by the Impreza i premium. Granted, most of the subaru benefits are probably evident only through driving. But the interior seemed so dated and cheap compared to other models here. The Scubie rep. proudly affirmed that yes, this was the top-of-the-line Impreza i. Maybe he saw the look on my face, because he quickly mentioned that the interior on the Outback version is slightly better. I don't consider the WRX to be a competitor to the Focus, since it's riding a 100hp advantage over just about all the cars on this list. We'll wait for the RS for that comparo.
-Mitsubishi Lancer sportback ($16,995 - $19,895) 148,168 hp - If I have the Impreza i on this list, then why not the Lancer? For some reason, Mitsubishi was the only major make not present at the Auto Show. I really have no other comment.
-Hyundai Elantra Touring ($15,995 - $20,295) 138 - Another disappointment to me. The Elantra is perhaps the one car for which I think the sedan looks better than hatch version. The hatch seems to combine all the worst elements of an old-school wagon and minivan. But what really let me down at the Auto Show was the interior. It was okay, but seemed generally austere and unremarkable. I was expecting more considering the very positive buzz floating about on the latest Hyundais.
-Kia Forte 5-dr - ($16,895 - $18,395) 156,173 hp. While the Scubie and Hyundai disappointed, the Forte was a very pleasant surprise. The interior quality seemed much more comparable to the Focus, in features and quality. I simply would not have thought of the Forte as a natural competitor, but it seems like a strong package, with very strong pricing.
Dodge Calibre - ($16,880 - $20,085) 158,172. What to make of the Calibre? I don't think I've ever read a truly positive review of the Calibre. I used to own a Neon; I didn't think it was THAT bad, and the Calibre has to be an improvement, right?
-VW Jetta ($19,995 - $24,995) - 140,170 hp. If I had to pick one VW to be on this list, it would be the Golf. But the Jetta is only a smidge larger than the other cars on this list. I personally think the current Jetta is pretty ugly, but the hatch is better looking than the sedan (german corolla).
Here are some others, though they're a bit of a stretch.
The Nissan Versa Hatchback ($13,910 - $16,940), 122, is a bit of an oddball, almost too big for the A segment yet pretty tiny for the C segment (but still bigger than a Golf). It's got several thousand dollars over the cars on this list, but it tends to show. Other wildcards are the Nissan Juke and the upcoming 3-door Hyundai Velostar. I wonder if anyone would cross-shop a Focus with a Volvo C30(breaks my 4-door rule) or Cooper Clubman, though that's climbing pretty high in price.
Did I miss anyone?
#46 of 1324 Re: Compact Hatchbacks / Wagons [gambit293]
Feb 08, 2011 (4:55 pm)
Ever feel like you're just talking to yourself?
The semi-sucky Elantra and Impreza I saw at the show are partly explained by the fact that new models are on the way within the next two years. They look quite nice. Pics are available at autoblog (and probably somewhere here on Edmunds too).
Ten years ago, I would have walked into an auto show knowing all that already. How times have changed.