I recently took a new job involving a long commute, and decided to look at the Focus and VW Golf TDI as commuter cars.
Coming from a BMW 335i, I have high standards and the Focus (so far) has lived up to them.
It's no BMW, but it's a fun car to drive and has enough bells and whistles that it doesn't feel like a penalty box even when compared to a far more expensive vehicle.
The engine, chassis, and tranny aren't quite as refined as the Golf, but the car is still very solid and fun to drive with a good trade-off between handling and comfort.
The Focus blows the Golf away in feature content, and both have very nice interiors for the price.
SYNC is much nicer than the 2008-era iDrive of the BMW.
The double-clutch tranny is not as well done as VW's proven DSG unit but it's not as bad as many reviewers claim.
Manual tranny drivers know that creeping very slowly and smoothly is difficult with a manual, and any lack of smoothness is obvious to the passengers.
OTOH, automatics can get caught flat-footed and make awkward shifts.
The Ford unit seems to have the advantages of both these trannies, but also the disadvantages.
It is not always smooth creeping slowly, and if you get a rough shift or catch it with the clutch in, it's really noticeable.
It's not a big deal, but Ford needs to do a better job of managing expectations.
The car contains one weird bit of cost-cutting that should be undone: the dead pedal is just a
carpeted area over the wheel well rather than a solid plastic or metal footrest.
I'm sure it's going to look ratty in a matter of months.
I'd also like to see Ford make xenon HIDs and push-button start available as an option package on all Focus models.
My biggest disappointment thus far, admittedly with only 500 miles on the car, is the fuel economy.
My BMW is rated at 17 / 25 and I typically get about 22 mpg.
So far in the Ford, I am getting about 26 mpg in roughly the same driving conditions.
I am hoping this will improve as the car breaks in.
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