Daily Podcast: The End of History
Yes, I've driven the "new" Ford Focus. And yes, it blows. I'm working on the review now, trying to summarize the vehicle's ghastly gestalt without resorting to scatological metaphors. But as bad as the Focus is, the fact that it exists is even worse. For the sake of argument, let's [safely] assume that the "new" Focus predates the tenure of FoMoCo's $25m man, CEO Alan Mulally. Let's also [hopefully] assume that both Big Al and his minions know the Focus is a dog, or what comes out of a dog 20 minutes after its gorged on Sam's Club's cheapest pet food. (Damn!) So why didn't Ford's top suit say STOP! We cannot claim to be a reinvigorated, reborn, chastened automaker and unleash this pistonhead pellet (oops!) on consumers in the world's most competitive automotive marketplace. Even if we take a billion dollar hit, we have to stop this train before it goes off the tracks. THIS is where we draw a line in our history between THEN and NOW. When we tell the world who we are going to be– not who we were. OK, granted, that kind of statement makes more sense when you have the new (as in new) Taurus under a sheet. But hey, sometimes you've got to work with what you don't have. Ain't that The Truth.
kansei : Yes, the Escort was fun to drive, but it wasn't very durable. I was lucky to get rid of it (55,000 on the clock). I sold it to a co-worker (cheap). In the next 20,000 miles, ignition module, fuel pump, power steering rack, and numerous nickel-and-dime items went -- he sort of knew what he was in for, as he had more than one dead "beater" car parked behind his place :-) Is there any truth that the new design was the result of an, er, "Focus" group?
To further back up Glenn's 'Dorf' quip (or whoever should be credited with the gag), the green house gang seem to be using King Camp Gilette's marketing prowess in reverse: The 08 Focus grille appears to be only a 2-blade Gilette Sensor, while the Taurus is at least a Mach3. Obviously, neither are, ahem, cutting edge (sorry), since the industry is up to 5 blades now. (curiously, Fusion is a razor too) Continuing the US driving convo, Katie, I'm a 25 yr old british male, I drive a 65hp diesel clio (65mpg thank-you), but I spent 6 months living in Detroit communting to romulus. The driving there isn't as scary as Glenn perhaps makes it sound, people are inattentive, but then they are here in the UK too. The only major thing I noticed was that people appeared to accelerate hard from lights etc, a product of massive engines over the past 5 decades. My rental Stratus POS tranny really wasn't up to the job. The most worrying thing on the roads was the amount of drink driving... However, I reassert the advice to avoid Detroit. Their roads even make Sheffield's roads look smooth!
Katie, I didn't want to scare you but "forewarned is forearmed" as the saying goes. As for US driving - well, let's see.... just this week (and it's only Thursday morning) I've had An SUV pull out in front of me, crossing my lane on Monday evening on the way home (17 mile commute). Flashed the brights at him, missed him by a couple of feet after testing the brakes. When going out to get food for the food pantry at church, another bingo-the-clown driver simply drove through a red light, turning right, straight in front of me (in many states, "right turn on red" is legal - AFTER stopping - nobody stops in Michigan and virtually nobody obeys the speed limit here, either). Tuesday morning, I had TWO people literally drive across right in front of me, one on a cross street (he got the bright headlights and I got a brake test again) and one crossing traffic in front of me, turning left (he didn't stop at the side road, with that funny little red octagonal sign). Tuesday evening on the way to pick up Mrs (we carpool), I had a VERY close tailgater (I ignore the ones as little as 6' away - otherwise I'd have an ulcer), couldn't even see her headlights in my rearview mirror.... menacing. Wednesday on the way home, I had TWO people cross in front of me... more bright lights and brake tests, then when we were walking the dog last evening, this idiot pickup truck driver talking on a cell phone started driving right towards us on the side of the road before he weaved back onto the pavement (roadsides, paved or gravel, are literally a lane wide here in northern Michigan, so there is somewhere for the snow to be pushed in winter). Well, you get the picture. As I say, just pay 110% attention and be confident in YOUR skills to drive defensively, and you'll be fine. But because we want you back on here with your comments and want to keep you alive, get a car with side-air bags when you're at the rental counter, "just in case" (all Hyundai's have side-air bags in the states, FYI). nichjs, my "family sized" 5 seat Prius hatchback with air con and all the luxuries, gets about 49 mpg US day in, day out, which equates to about 61 mpg Imperial. I've obtained as much as 56.8 mpg US (71 mpg Imperial) on a long journey of 800 miles, mostly 55 mph speed limits, some villages, no air con (it was spring time) - pretty optimal conditions. My Scottish sis-in-law was astounded... especially when she was informed that the MPG is 25% out from UK.... Plus the Prius puts out about 1/17th as much actual air pollutants (HC, CO, NOx, etc.) as does a 2006 VW Jetta diesel.... and only 104 kg/km CO2, as well. But kudos on choosing an economical diesel for your own use. I'm not knocking it - just setting the record straight about what a Prius can do! Now if only Dorf ("Ford spelled sideways is Dorf") could get some high efficiency hybrids on the road, other than Stupid Utility Vehicles...
Oh by the way, Katie? Drive with your headlights ON low beam, when you visit and drive in the states - most people do now - make sure to familiarize yourself so you know whether the rental car headlights automatically turn off when you shut off the car and get out... Even so, I wish the blind drivers out there who continually "don't bother looking / see me" would at least put a WHITE STICK IN THEIR GRILLS TO WARN THE REST OF US.