2008 Ford Focus Coupe: Back from Smacking Down
May 02, 2008
The Focus is back and all spick and span from our two-day fuel-sipper smackdown to, from and around Las Vegas. I logged about 200 miles in the Focus, including about 130 miles of aimless wondering around the greater Las Vegas area for city mileage testing. After covering that distance, I have mitigated my stance that the Focus is an unmitigated crap can. It's still a class bottom dweller to be sure and a complete half-cocked effort on Ford's part, but there are bits and pieces that work well enough.
Although old, the Focus platform is still perfectly capable. The engine isn't particularly powerful, but in our mundane driving, it was certainly sufficient and as our testing showed, very fuel efficient. The seats are pretty comfy and offer decent space for a small car, however, its lack of a telescoping steering column is inexcusable. True, many small cars don't offer this feature, but the Focus used to have one. That's not design retardation (as much of the car exhibits), it's design regression.
Oppositely, the center stack is very well designed and a step forward. I love how the climate and audio controls are well separated, logically placed and clearly marked. The cool blue lighting is nice, too. I'm also a big fan of the direct tuning stereo function. Sync certainly has its flaws, but it works well -- especially when you consider that it's the first version of a new technology.
After so many miles, the Focus is still a disappointing car -- even when I block from my mind the European Focus II. Ford could have done better.
James Riswick, Automotive Editor @ 7,103 miles
Stay tuned for more coverage of our "Fuel-Sipper Smackdown" featuring our Focus, our Jetta TDI, a Smart ForTwo and a Toyota Prius.