Perception and reality are often very different. If the reaction I got from friends and co-workers is any indication, Ford has some perception issues to deal with with the 2008 Ford Focus.
“Nice looking car. How much? 25 grand? Why buy that when a Civic is so much cheaper?”
When did people get the perception that Honda’s are cheap? In Canada, the base Civic sedan lists for $16,990. Compare that to $15,999 for the entry level Focus. Our tester was far from entry level, having been jammed full of every option conceivable at this level. The msrp on our little silver sedan was a lofty $24,764 before freight and pdi. Just for fun, I decided to do a little number crunching on the Honda site. All I can say is, Wow! To get all the stuff that was in our Focus, you have to begin with a Civic EXL and then start adding options. By the time you have all the goodies the matched up, you have a Civic that sells for $31,175!
Now that we’ve got a firmer grip on reality, we can get on with life with the Focus on the road.
First off, the Focus is powered by Ford’s 140 horsepower, 2.0 liter Duratec 4 cylinder. Our feelings about this choice are mixed. My first impression was that the Focus was about 30-40 horsepower lighter than it should be. Over the week though, it sank in that the Focus doesn’t pretend to be a pocket rocket, rather it is a comfortable little family car with an upscale edge. Going back to that competitive reference point, the Civic is also motivated by 140 horsepower, so the Ford is likely just about right. I’d still like 180.
Otherwise, the Focus was surprisingly smooth and quiet on the road. The 205/50R16 Pirelli P6 all season tires gave a ride that was firm and confident feeling, with little road noise.
We’ve tested a lot of SUV’s this winter, so the relatively economical Focus was a welcome addition to the fleet. Given the cold weather, our numbers were nowhere near the government test ratings. Even still, we managed 9.3 l/100 km (25.28 mpg) which isn’t too bad considering the wicked cold and a heavy foot.
On the outside, Ford’s designers have played it safe for the most part. A classic looking sedan shape includes enough family design cues to ensure that there is no mistaking the Focus as a Ford. From the front grille to the shape of the hood where it meets fenders, it mimics some of Ford’s larger offerings. The one odd feature are the faux vents on the front fenders. A few observers commented that the piece looks unfinished and out of place. It almost looks like the chrome should continue along the body side. Personally, I’m on the fence. It’s shiny and I like shiny stuff lately.
Overall, the Focus was comfortable and quiet on the road, making the dreary winter commute enjoyable. In part 2, we’ll get into all the stuff that makes the Focus cool, the inside stuff!