Introducing this round-shaped, odd-looking domestic car to the North American market back in the late 90s took a lot of European arguments. And it has been quite a success so far: the Focus sold over 12 million units in 140 markets. In fact, a Ford Focus is sold every 90 seconds! What has made it so popular? For one thing, Ford’s ability to combine (in a small and affordable package) European styling, handling and fuel economy with North American options and commodities.
This particular angle is now widespread practice amongst (almost) all car manufacturers active in this market, but it is safe to say Ford was a pioneer as a domestic manufacturer with this recipe. Secondly, the Dearborn brand has another old, philosophical legacy up its sleeve that dates back to the foundation of the company, which contributes to the Focus’s success. “Bringing technology to the masses,” as Henry Ford said. The Ford Focus is offered in S, SE, Titanium, Electric and ST trims.
Inside and out
On the tested SE trim, the interior has been slightly altered from the previous models. Amongst the TGW (things gone wrong) that have been revised, we found new HVAC and audio controls, a door lock button that was switched back to the door panel (a door lock button on the centre stack doesn’t make sense to us North Americans), cupholders moved forward and more storage space (more North American sense). A good thing that had been left behind is a backup camera, which is now standard on all trim levels.
The front seats offer great support, with average-quality material (like most of the interior’s finish), the passengers in the rear will hate tall front occupants, as legroom is quite limited. In the exterior styling department, new taillamp clusters and trunklid are featured. Ford restyled the hood and grille with a considerably more distinguished look. For more technology, the Focus is offered with an available blind spot monitor. This feature uses two multiple-beam radar modules to identify vehicles entering the blind spot zone and alerts the driver with a light on the corresponding side view mirror.
The pièce de résistance on the 2015 Ford Focus SE is unquestionably the addition of the new 123-hp, EcoBoost 1.0L turbo three-cylinder engine. Already available on the 2014 Fiesta (and for a while now in Europe), this engine is a marvel of engineering by its small size and impressive power output, not to mention fuel economy. In fact, Ford says that choosing the 1.0L over the 2.0L engine will save you 15% in CO2 emissions.
Because of a few ingenious tweaks including a super-stiff block, isolated fuel injectors and oil-immersed timing belts, unbalanced front pulley and flywheel combined with vibration absorbing engine mounts, the 1.0L offers a surprisingly quiet ride. Depending on your driving habits, the smallest engine of the EcoBoost lineup might seem a tad underpowered at times to pull the Focus, which is heavier than the Fiesta.
However, it has a nice tone to it and the drive can be joyful because of sufficient torque. It can be coupled with a standard six-speed manual or an optional six-speed automated gearbox. The good ol’ 160-hp, 2.0L engine is still available and features improvements to its transmission.
Ford Focus ST
The "rebellious" version of the 2015 Focus lineup, the ST has a lot to offer the consumer looking for sports-car driving characteristics. A less comfortable sport-tuned suspension is offered and a magnificent 2.0-litre turbocharged engine that pushes out 252 hp and 270 lb-ft of torque shows what EcoBoost means on the performance side.
The new Focus ST features sportier and more aggressive styling than the previous generation with twin-hexagonal centre tailpipes and a wider stance. Inside, the ST signature triple gauge pod displays turbocharger boost pressure, oil temperature and oil pressure information, while front occupants benefit from standard Recaro heated sport seats wrapped in charcoal black leather.
All in all, Ford now offers the economical, yet peppy 1.0L three-cylinder engine in its popular Focus compact, providing good fuel economy for those looking for a bigger package than what the Fiesta offers. The ST is not for the faint hearted, it looks good and is powerful, but the performance suspension is less comfortable for long drives. Lately, Ford announced an RS version with 320 hp and an AWD system to boot; let’s see how much "further" Ford goes with this one!