Review: Ford Focus 4-door Trend 1.6 PS

By Niky Tamayo
 

Ford Focus Trend

The Ford Focus has always been "almost there," an otherwise excellent car kept from greatness by one or two glaring faults. Even offering high-performance diesel didn't seem to give the Focus nameplate the same cachet as similarly sporty competitors like the Civic and the Lancer. But the smaller Fiesta has shown that with sufficient style and innovation, a Ford can come out on top.

Now, Ford has pulled out all the stops and applied the same treatment to the Focus. But will this high-tech approach have the same appeal, or will it scare off typically conservative compact sedan buyers?

Ford Focus Trend

STYLING

The hatchback is an eye-catching shape, but the free-form taillights and the confusing confluence of concatenated surfaces out back seem overwrought. The sedan, however, looks sublime, especially around the rear haunches. The subtly radiused fenders and the tension from the offset character lines are lovely in the light. All that's missing are some bigger wheels.

These clean lines also make for a slippery 0.295 coefficient of drag. The stormtrooper grille is a bit over-the-top, but breaks up the visual weight at the front. This is Ford's biggest compact ever, and every bit of cosmetic slimming helps.

Ford Focus Trend

INTERIOR

Thankfully, this extra size carries over to the interior. Cabin space and comfort take a quantum leap upward. They've finally fixed those formerly uncomfortable rear headrests, too. The wide range of adjustment for the well-bolstered seat and steering wheel makes for excellent driving ergonomics.

The dynamic new cabin design looks and feels much more expensive than other cars in this price range, though there's still a preponderance of hard plastics, especially on the doors. There's a retro-Nokia dash console, as on the Fiesta. It's a lot nicer, but covered with even more tiny buttons. At least, they're nice buttons.

Ford Focus Trend

ENGINE PERFORMANCE

Instead of the fantastic 170hp 2.0, this unit uses the puny 1.6. While the motor strains to move the sedan's porky 1,300kg-plus mass, that smooth dual-clutch automatic makes the best of a dire situation by giving you the right gear as often as possible. Unless you're pulling out to overtake, the lack of power is largely unnoticeable.

In stop-and-go traffic, the "Powershift" is still a bit clunky, and the push-button manual function is frustrating. While this gearbox upshifts more quickly and smoothly into second gear than the Fiesta does, I wish you could lock it completely out of first.

Ford Focus Trend - Ride and Handling

RIDE AND HANDLING

Of course, foot-to-the-floor is more the Focus's style. The hydraulic steering is sharp and sizzling with feedback. They should retrofit this system to the Fiesta ASAP. A novel torque-vectoring system uses selective brake application to shuffle power to the outside wheel in turns, making handling even sharper. On the debit side, that heavy chassis takes time to settle between direction changes.

In tamer driving, that weight makes the Focus ride like a bigger car. Its calm, composed and quiet ride seems more befitting a luxury car than a mass-market sedan. Nothing else in this class is nearly as good.

Ford Focus Trend - Extra Features

EXTRA FEATURES

Thanks to Ford's new naming conventions, the "Trend" is no longer the "stripper" of the lineup, but a midrange model, akin to the old "Ghia." As such, it receives an excellent six-speaker sound system, multifunction steering wheel controls, and hands-free Ford Sync telephony and voice command options. Strangely, the Sync system isn't quite as all-inclusive as in the cheaper Fiesta Sport, and parking sensors have gone AWOL.

But with what's there--plus hill-hold, stability control, torque vectoring, and active grille shutters (which close at speed for better aerodynamics)--the Focus is perhaps the most sophisticated 1.6-liter sedan on the market.

THE VERDICT

Unfortunately, it's the most expensive, too. At P989,000, the Trend is heavy in more ways than one. But for a "compact" class moving upmarket, the Focus sets a new benchmark in luxury and refinement. This variant, however, is still "almost there." That 1.6 is just too little motor for this much car. In fact, the 2.0 got slightly better economy during a recent DOE eco run (20km/L versus 19km/L). But it's a case of "almost great" instead of "almost decent." Skinny ankles or not, the Focus is one handsome, well-rounded car. At least, Prince Charming doesn't have buck teeth.

SPECS: FORD FOCUS TREND 1.6 PS

Engine: 1.6-liter DOHC TiVCT in-line-four gasoline

Transmission: 6-speed "Powershift" dual-clutch automatic

Power: 125hp @ 6,000rpm

Torque: 159Nm @ 4,000rpm

Drive layout: FWD

Seating: 5

Price: P989,000

Score: 16/20

Photos by Ken Tamayo

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  • SymphonyX7 Dec 17 2012 @ 12:26pm
    Any other feedback on the parking assist system aside from "it's gone AWOL"? I saw it in the Focus ads I keep seeing on TV.
    • Andrew Guerrero
      Andrew Guerrero Dec 17 2012 @ 02:48pm
      The Active Park Assist is for the Titanium and Sport models only. The Trend trim-level lost its back up sensors ever since the facelifted previous gen Mk2.5 Focus was launched in late 2008.
  • 17Sphynx17 Dec 17 2012 @ 12:46pm
    Whats the verdict on just city FC? Can it achieve real world 8-10km/l? Even in using the 1.6 engine? Or is it more in the 7-8km/l group?

    Highway is already more than acceptable as the old 1.8AT Model beat a diesel in a highway FC run with us. Hehe! Wonder though if they would release a 1.6 Ecoboost to update this engine next year to give it more oomph as you mention that it leaves you wanting?

    With your comments to the transmission just completing cutting out first gear, I would assume the jittery shifting is still present when you are crawling at a snails pace in traffic? This existed in the previous gen as well so I was hoping this could have been remedied with this new version.

    But I really love this car in this compact segment. This is number 1. The hatch isn't as appealing to me compared to the one in replaced. Too busy I would say. The sedan looks better, especially that rear. Keeps on reminding me of the Mondeo =)
  • Niky Tamayo
    Niky Tamayo Dec 17 2012 @ 01:44pm
    Definitely in the 7-8 km/l range in the city. Heavy car, and that's what you pay. Seems like the tranny defaults to second gear as often as possible in low speed running, but from a stop or very low speeds, you still go through first unless you're playing with the shifter. Like the Fiesta, first is very short, so it's a bit twitchy in traffic. Once you're moving, though... no problem. I don't expect an Ecoboost for a while. The 1.0 Ecoboost would cost more than the 1.6, already, spec for spec... a 1.6 Ecoboost would cost as much as the 2.0. (both GDI, so it wouldn't cost MORE... :p ).
  • TingMatic Dec 17 2012 @ 02:28pm
    How can you beat the Civic despite the the Civic's 5 speed a/t limitation? I have test driven the civic and this car and sad to say the Civic comes out on top with plenty to spare!
    • mintygum Dec 17 2012 @ 07:14pm
      Have you tried the new focus? If not, test drive it and you will know.
    • mintygum Dec 17 2012 @ 07:17pm
      sorry I meant 2.0 civic vs 2.0 focus, the focus is better. I don't know if the 1.6 variant is better than the 1.8 civic.
    • Niky Tamayo
      Niky Tamayo Dec 18 2012 @ 08:20am
      The 1.6 Focus has less power and nearly 100 kg more weight than the Civic. it's slower. Then again, 0-100 kmh is not the reason to buy a 1.6 "compact"... Well, not anymore.
    • FanBoy Dec 19 2012 @ 01:01am
      Well, no one leaves their barricade unless dead shot in the middle of the eye. The Focus will be the killing bullet until someone realizes that staying too long behind, fooling himself just for the sake of bashing a brand.

      Anyway, I suggest a white flag for you by TEST DRIVING IT FOR REAL and with all HONESTY. :)
  • HD Dec 17 2012 @ 02:49pm
    The Focus Trend models should have had a 2.0 GDI engine just like the Sport n Ti (and they do in Australia) but minus the unnecessary toys, body kit and wheels ... it would have been perfect at the same price (or just slightly more) especially with option for MT which would have made the price (and drive) even sweeter.
    • Niky Tamayo
      Niky Tamayo Dec 17 2012 @ 05:04pm
      Really wish that were possible. 2.0 and MT really don't sell well in the Philippines. Despite the fact that 2.0 MTs can get the same economy as 1.6 ATs (or better) and give better performance and less headaches over the vehicle's lifetime. :(
      • HD Dec 19 2012 @ 02:16am
        Well Subaru still offers a MT Impreza ... and FGP did manage to sell 200 Lynx RS didnt they (tho that was nearly 10 years ago ...).
      • Niky Tamayo
        Niky Tamayo Dec 19 2012 @ 09:18am
        Most sales, if I recall, of the Impreza 2.0 RS were with the 4AT. Mitsubishi also dropped the Lancer MX GT, as people who bought the high-end variants inevitably wanted the GTA with CVT. And the Lynx RS, surprisingly, despite the limited availability (about 200-250 units total), didn't sell all that quickly. There were several units left at the end of production, selling for a few months afterwards. The RS was only moderately successful because it offered lots of luxury features at a price up to 200k less than other 2.0 variants of the time.
  • camebeyond Dec 17 2012 @ 03:57pm
    ford always have new innovation but people always ended in toyota... i dont know why????? But i do like ford.
  • Niky Tamayo
    Niky Tamayo Dec 17 2012 @ 05:03pm
    Basically what AM says. No park assist or back-up sensors on the Trend. Easy to remedy via aftermarket, but you kind of expect it as standard at this price.
  • isaac3654 Dec 17 2012 @ 08:54pm
    No doubt maganda ang Focus, as with all the new cars of Ford, pero yung new Explorer and Focus, mas pangit ang reliability compared sa previous generation. Too much technology perhaps, and since PHP2.5M ang Explorer Limited at PHP1.1M ung Focus Titanium/Sport, there may be compromises in build quality.
  • meki71 Dec 18 2012 @ 09:51am
    Then why not review the 2.0 Hatch?
  • Niky Tamayo
    Niky Tamayo Dec 18 2012 @ 02:57pm
    That's coming. ;)
  • FanBoy Dec 19 2012 @ 01:06am
    Again, Ford set a benchmark. Saw this in metal, was able to be a bystander on a test drive (just a by stander) and by the looks and feel of it, I was already sold in to being a Focus fanatic from now on.

    The base asking price of 989K I think IS a bargain. You get every goodness out of this car.

    Now if still compared to the Elantra (the current COTY, Compact Sedan), If released earlier in the market vs. the elantra, Focus can wade its way towards being the COTY.

    This well rounded car is too good. :)
    • 17Sphynx17 Dec 19 2012 @ 08:39am
      There is still the Ambiente right which is the "Basic" trim before the Trend, then Sport then Titanium . Actually after seeing this review I was confused again, especially with the interior as I thought the Focus had a different center stack than the Fiesta. Maybe for the Sport and Titanium which I saw. Well, in time when I drop by another Ford showroom I can check again. hehe!

  • BOOGIECAT Dec 20 2012 @ 10:49am
    1.6 Liter Ecoboost Please and alloy rims for the Ambiente variants too!

    This car looks great!
  • gallardospyder Dec 25 2012 @ 04:07pm
    Ang mahal ! MAgsama kayo ng mazda 3 !
  • yecherchong Dec 28 2012 @ 02:51am
    Looking forward to your review of the TOTL Focus Sport and Titanium . I'm in the market for a new car and I'm looking at getting the Focus Sport 5Dr Hatch. However PHP 50k less, i can get a SUV already (Kia Sportage 2WD AT or Hyundai Tucson). what to do? what to do?
  • _amdg_ Mar 04 2013 @ 05:07pm
    Ford just increased the prices for the 2.0 Titanium and Sport trims from 1.199M to 1.208M. Demand must be good.
  • Shelby 8 months ago
    Ill take the Focus ST in Grabber Orange with a Silver Mohawk.
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