Hot hatches are all the rage in Europe but represent a fairly small segment of American consumption. The formula is fairly simple, you take a compact hatchback, insert a turbocharged engine, stiffen the springs and add an anti-roll bar that can lift the inner rear wheel in corners if you really push it. The result is the polar opposite of a pony car.
Three years ago, Ford unveiled the third-generation Focus to the excitement of American enthusiasts who thought the second-generation model lacked “zazz,” to say the least. Come 2015, the Focus will have a new face, and that’s only the beginning.
Ford Racing quietly began offering its advanced, 2.0 liter Ecoboost turbocharged 4 cylinder crate engine earlier this year, without much fanfare. All that changed at the 2013 PRI Show in Indianapolis, however, with Ford’s Ecoboost powered 2015 Mustang twirling away on a giant lazy Susan directly under the giant “Ford Racing” banner mere steps away from the small crate engine, displayed proudly with its (relatively hefty) $8,000 price tag.
Ford Motor Company’s Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne, Michigan will be idled for two weeks to reduce inventories of the Focus and C-Max. The plant will close for a week at the end of this month and then for another week in the middle of December.
By pure happenstance I ended up with an Elantra GT immediately after reviewing the 2014 Kia Forte sedan. As I said last week in the Forte review, the Elantra and Forte are related, but this isn’t a case of Korean badge engineering. It’s far more complicated. The Forte is the new kid on the block while the Elantra has been around for a few years. At this stage in life, Hyundai is trying to inject vitality into the Elantra name by adding new models. First we got the four-door sedan, then a two-door coupé followed by the Veloster which is just a four-door hatchback Elantra (yes, I know Hyundai calls it a three-door, but I know better). If you’re confused by door counts, the new Elantra GT is a five-door. Say what?
It would appear that your humble author has become quite the compact-car reviewer lately, with drives of the 2012 Sentra, 2013 Sentra, Toyota Corolla, Mazda 3s (not reviewed at TTAC), Hyundai Elantra, and Chevy Cruze under my Allen-Edmonds belt. I’ve also driven the current Focus, proclaiming it as the best compact car available, but that was more than two years ago. Time to renew my acquaintance with the Focus, then.
The Focus SE I drove last time was a base-equipment, manual-transmission model, but the car I chose from the Alamo line up at the Orlando airport was an optioned-up double-clutcher. As we’ll see, that makes more than a little difference.
I’ve been following a series of discussion on a MK3 Ford Focus forum; in particular I’ve been following the technical discussion about how to squeeze more power from the MK3’s new 2.0 GDI motor. Of course, this involves talk of CAIs, Cat-deletes (inadvisable), and free flow exhaust. One of the more curious things to emerge is… (Read More…)