By on October 18, 2007

08focus_0409.jpgPop the hood of the new Ford Focus and you'll see an infestation of duct tape worms. Every wire is wrapped in black duct tape. And the thing is, Ford didn't even try to hide it. There's no flash-casted plastic cover to hide the Focus' handmade electrical insulation. I mean, how much would that have cost FoMoCo? Five bucks? What's more, the duct tape I discovered in the economy car's engine bay was already unfurling. That's worrying. But it's nowhere near as disquieting as the overarching Scrooge You cynicism informing every nut, bolt and rock hard panel of this po-faced makeover. What’s worse, the new Ford Focus looks atrocious.

When Ford reskinned the Focus to take-on the bevy of B-class beauties prospering from the patronage of economy-minded American car buyers, who’d a thunk they’d use the Medusa-esque Chrysler Sebring as a template? The resemblance is uncanny– and ungodly. The domestic sedans share the same dopey proportions; simmer surfacing, inelegant side and hood strakes; flared and squared wheel arches and what-the-Hell-do-we-do now? rear side glass. Encountering the Focus for the first time is like discovering that a short, fat, balding Elvis imitator has a less attractive twin.

2008_focus_0389.jpgThe second time you clap eyes on the “new” Focus the detailing delivers the disastrous denouement. The front end is a dog’s breakfast; incomplete with a two-blade grill (the Fusion, Taurus and Edge get three) and a front bumper sculpted with a Play-Doh knife, that stands proud of the body only in the literal sense. The Focus’ side air vents are an unintentionally hilarious affectation hearkening back to the days when rear wings adorned econoboxes. And I’m not saying the back end is frumpy and ungainly– just in case you think Ugly Betty is a babe.

If Sam’s Club made an interior, this would be it: all the right bits in the right places without any color, style or comfort. Mind you, my tester was an SE stripper: no ambient lighting, all-weather floor mats or fancy SYNC™ system to tell your pacemaker to connect with your iPhone, stat. More importantly, the Focus’ steering wheel doesn’t adjust for reach and there’s so little rear seat legroom that the front seat backs are stuffed with ground-up Nerf balls.

focusr3page1image0002ou0.jpgAll this would be forgivable– no wait, it isn’t. Save Chevy's Aveo, every other economy car's cabin has a little something to recommend it. The Focus doesn’t. Sure, Ford’s erstwhile designers have eliminated the previous model’s egregious ergonomics, but the old gauges were more practical and attractive, and the stereo and climate controls weren't identical. The new Focus’ interior may be wildly inoffensive, but it reeks of cheap.

Nobody who’d buy a Focus would expect it to be anything other than frugal. And it isn’t. Yes, the Focus’ 2.0-liter Duratec is a smooth and parsimonious mill (helped by spare tire deletion). But the four banger is plenty loud, with a sonic signature that’s about as appealing as a motel vacuum cleaner. (At 4:30am.) The hard-as-nails Hankook all-season rubber adds to the din, which includes an unpleasant graunching noise (and burning brake smell) whenever you beat the Focus’ rear drums.

08focus_rear-copy.jpgOn the positive side, the Focus’ steering rack is a delight, with perfect weighting, a well-judged turning ratio and more-than-merely adequate road feel. Whether you’re crossing four lanes of highway traffic or fighting for supremacy in the supermarket parking lot, the car goes exactly where you point it. The Focus’ eight-year-old chassis’ motions are also well controlled, with minimal body lean or nose dive. As a result, the sedan isn’t entirely corner-aversive.

But with such little pep on tap, cheap shoes and more understeer than a freight train, who cares? By the time you get a Focus up to speed, the tires have already answered the Deliverance-style inquiry into porcine imitation. In case you were wondering, buying a Focus SE for driving pleasure is like purchasing a Ferrari 599 for mechanical reliability.

08focus_0267.jpgThe Focus’ ride quality is the more important consideration; Ford’s normally masterful chassis tuners have got the balance between “Euro-inspired” handling and American-style comfort exactly wrong. You don't tip over, but you feel every lump and bump. The physical sensations are muffled, but there they are, entering the cabin like the report of distant cannon fire. There’s no glossing over the fact that the Focus’ aged underpinnings have outlived their usefulness; they give the car’s dynamics the mien of mean.

My biggest problem with the new Ford Focus isn’t the new Ford Focus. It’s the Mazda3. For a couple grand more than the box-fresh Ford, you get coherent exterior style, a classy cabin, an adult-compatible rear compartment, a better sounding powerplant, vastly superior handling, greater residuals and an engine bay without a trace of duct tape. Considering Ford’s relationship with Mazda and their long history of badge-engineering… Oh well. I guess Ford just couldn’t admit they’ve lost Focus.

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154 Comments on “Ford Focus Review...”


  • avatar
    james2550

    Proof positive that America today hasn’t the first clue about how to design a decent car. The mk1 Focus (from Europe) was excellent and significantly advanced quality in this segment (and was truly a revelation after various incarnations of the Escort). Instead of making the sensible choice of bringing the very good (though not quite so game-changing) Europe mk2 Focus stateside, FoMoCo made the bizarre decision to rework the mk1. This may have made good sense financially, but having “improved” the design the result is a car that’s worse, not better.

  • avatar
    kkop

    I quote from the Detroit News:

    “This could be the finest small vehicle that Ford has ever produced,” Mulally said during a speech to mark the formal start of production at the Wayne Stamping and Assembly Plant. “This is the vehicle for the next generation.”

    Ford’s toast.

  • avatar
    ash78

    Robert,

    Thanks for validating my nomination (or reiteration) of this car as a TWAT.

    I’ll state again that this slap-in-the-face is exacerbated by seeing new S40 and Mazda3 models driving around everywhere. Ford reportedly wanted to keep the price down by a grand or two (by sticking with the old platform), which I’ve always thought was a bad way to emphasize that they didn’t have anything else to fill the true “entry compact” segment.

    EDIT: This just showed up on fark. Get ready for some hits!

  • avatar
    tdoyle

    Back in September 2006 my wife and I bought an ’07 Focus 4-dr SES to compliment my ’05 F150.

    I had not yet seen the pictures of the new ’08 Focus until about six months later. At first sight I thought, “hideous” and “fugly”.

    C’mon, Fomoco, you can do much better. Our ’07 has clean lines, coherent design and yes, a cheapy-cheep dash. But it handles very well, is quiet and we get compliments on it weekly… I don’t think this ’08 will.

  • avatar
    Roger Hislop

    Now now, Robert. You’ve clearly not been paying attention, or drinking enough of Ford’s cool-aid. According to them, the Focus has a “redesigned cabin (that) delivers improved craftsmanship and comfort along with added flexibility and storage.”

    And “new suspension tuning and chassis refinements improve an already rewarding and dynamic driving experience.”

    I direct your attention also to these words:
    “We designed this Focus to prove that inexpensive does not have to mean cheap.” Peter Horbury executive director of Design, North America

    “Focus is improved in every aspect – the way it looks inside and out and the features it offers.” Derrick Kuzak group vice president of Global Product Development.

    *boggle*

  • avatar
    jaje

    Rental fleets will rejoice when Ford has to offload the majority of sales to them. The Aveos, Cobalts, Corollas and Ions were getting long in the tooth.

    What is so dissappointing is Ford could have done a progressive improvement to a decent platform. Instead they swung for the fences – rather a major foul ball. To sum it up…Mullaly must think this is the Way Fordward using its Boweled Moves.

  • avatar
    KatiePuckrik

    You know, Ford US moan that they can’t bring Euro Focuses to the United States for (pick whatever reason you like). However, maybe Ford are missing a trick here. Instead of shipping the cars from Europe to North America, why don’t they ship the ENGINEERS from Europe to the United States?

    To my knowledge, Fords in Europe are designed by Germans, built by Belgians and Spaniards, marketed by Brits and retains Ford’s trademark cheap materials. Somehow, it appears to be a winning formula, so why don’t Ford NA bring those people over to the United States and use their expertise to create the NEXT US Ford Focus (if Ford survive that long). As long as Ford US have the design plans from people who (appear) to know what they’re doing, I can’t see what the problem will be?

    But all this aside, I really don’t know what the wonder is about Euro Fords. They’re not very good cars (Admittedly, I’ve driven the last generation Mondeo, not the current model). I really want to drive a Us Ford to see how bad they really are. Ford really should kill their engineering department and outsource that function to Mazda. In fact, here’s a thought:

    Give the engineering to Mazda, the build quality to Volvo, the design to Jaguar and Land Rover and have Ford as a brand. At least this way, Ford could have a buyable car on the market?

  • avatar

    Honestly, I was shocked when I saw the new styling on this horrible pig of a car. I think the Fusion a rather sexy ride and even the Taurus looks pretty sharp. I found the previous Focus attractive and a decent bang-for-the-buck car, what with the great mileage and handsome hatchback. This car is one of those that throws my mind into disarray when I realize anyone at all will consider it the best option when it comes time to buy. Why would anyone ever lay down, say, $14,000 when a 2-year old used Civic or even a lightly used Fusion will cost the same? Not to even mention the thousands of other cars that even 4 years used with high mileage come out as a better deal than this miserable effort.

    p.s. “Does not bad equal quite good?” is the best caption ever.

  • avatar
    JJ

    Link to the eurofocus “minisite”.

    Euro Focus

  • avatar
    dwford

    The real reason we get a restyled original chassis Focus vs the C1 is the labor costs. I read somewhere that Ford loses $3000 on every Focus built, which just happens to coincide with the $3000 rebates on the 2007 model. If the C1 chassis does cost more to build, Ford would potentially lose that much more. But, you say, if it was a better car people would pay more for it! Well, maybe yes, maybe no. My experience is that no matter the model, Ford customers, even the loyalists, want a rock bottom price and expect a huge discount off MSRP. Many are very disappointed when I tell them there is “only” a $1000 rebate. A suddenly spectacular all new Focus may not automatically equate to buyers willing to buy at the MSRP.

    Remember, those labor costs are part of the reason that Ford loses $3000 on each Focus is that they have to build them in the US to count for the CAFE fuel economy rules.

  • avatar
    Sajeev Mehta

    My experience is that no matter the model, Ford customers, even the loyalists, want a rock bottom price and expect a huge discount off MSRP. Many are very disappointed when I tell them there is “only” a $1000 rebate. A suddenly spectacular all new Focus may not automatically equate to buyers willing to buy at the MSRP.

    And that could very well be the downfall of Detroit. They fostered a culture of rebates and incentives. They sealed the deal when they made cheaper cars to compensate.

    Oh well, at least the “new” Focus’ steering is still nice. That was always my fav part of the car.

    I think SVT Foci prices just shot through the roof. That right there was a great little car.

  • avatar
    BostonTeaParty

    This is a dog, Ford has to fire J Mays soon, and start putting some style back into their vehicles, it looks like an old saturn and must surely win the TWAT award for the car and for Ford building it, what a bunch of…

    Katie, the design team in europe is a european mix, but there are many brits there thank god.

  • avatar
    Rallybred

    Ford won’t have to worry about losing $3000 on each Focus any longer since these won’t sell period. If anyone I knew ever came home in one of these I would disown them. Truly sad to see this hitting the streets.

    If they had to use the old chassis but styled it to be pleasing to the eye then many would have been fooled into buying one of these. If they want to make their cars butt ugly then they need a superb chassis to overcome the ugly a la Toyota. FORD drops the balls big time on both fronts.

  • avatar
    shaker

    Wow, they managed to out-cobalt the Cobalt.
    That hideous expanse of dash plastic reminds me of a 90’s era “boom box” — just needs the front speakers mounted about 10″ apart on the passenger side.

  • avatar
    guyincognito

    Since I utterly loathe this car and have said as much several times, I’ll say one good thing about it..it didn’t get bigger or heavier!

  • avatar

    As a recent Mazda3 buyer (Saturday actually), I am dumbfounded that Ford chose to revisit the parts bucket rather than simply rebadge the M3 into the Focus.

    For less than $17K I got a car with exceptional handling, build quality and an almost lux interior. This car is really that good. Mazda seems to being doing so many things right whereas Ford keeps finding new new ways to shoot itself in the foot (Renamed Taurus, New Focus are a couple of prime examples).

    Folks – IMHO if you are in the market for a car in this segment, not only should you skip the new Focus, you should pass on the Civic, Jetta, Rabbit, Corolla, Imprezza, Elantra, Matrix/Vibe, etc and test drive the Mazda3. It truly sets the standard in this segment. I am still amazed when driving this car, and looking around at my environment, that I am in a $17K car and not some BMW or VW.

  • avatar
    nadmonk

    Ford is seriously missing the mark on this one. There new line up is so blandly styled it looks like a line of coffee makers from Black and Decker. Apparently they are ignoring what everyone wants and is focusing on the mentality that ‘mericans want cheap, reliable, appliance like cars.

    Maybe they just like insulting us and kicking us in the junk. They are basically telling us, “Yeah, we could bring over the mkII focus from Europe, but we don’t give a crap about you.”

    My own mad libs style review form for most new American cars: (insert name of American car manufacturer) has released the new (insert name of once liked model). While the interior has been completely redesigned it (insert metaphor to demonstrate how awful the interior is even compared to a rotting camel carcase). The redesigned exterior is (insert comment on the overall blandness, possibly mentioning cauliflower). The handling and performance (insert commentary on how it isn’t that bad, if compared to a 1970’s era econobox, then go on to describe how little character it has compared to Keanu Reeves).

  • avatar
    starlightmica

    Remember, those labor costs are part of the reason that Ford loses $3000 on each Focus is that they have to build them in the US to count for the CAFE fuel economy rules.

    Canadian and Mexican built vehicles are considered domestic vehicles thanks to NAFTA, so Ford corporate fuel economy was unchanged from moving Foci production from Mexico to Michigan.

    I think the real reason for the move is that the Mexican plant had a better history of quality assembly and so was designated to build the Fusion/Milan/MKZ, which has worked out very nicely.

  • avatar
    AKM

    Is that the first 1-star on TTAC?

    Thanks Robert for sacrificing yourself to test this, uh, car.

    Now I understand why those execs are paid so much: with the amount of bull and lies they tell everyday, it must take that much $$ to assuage their conscience.
    Good luck marketing Ford products, Mr. Farley.

  • avatar
    cheezeweggie

    What a joke. It could pass as a Hyundai Accent.

    Edit: Sorry Hyundai – I think you make a better car.

  • avatar
    slateslate

    re: the comment about bringing European engineers to build a US-domestic Focus…..

    I highly doubt that the Dearborn-folks who work on the Focus design/engineering/interior team spend their FoMoCo employee discount on a Focus as a daily ride…..probably all drive Explorers or Edges.

    That’s the real problem with Sebring/Focus/Taurus…..GM/Ford/Chrysler are truck/SUV companies. Their engineers are truck/SUV people. The companies and its people just have no concept of a good small car.

    Solution: anyone who works on Ford’s small car design team must drive a Focus as their daily ride…..improvements should follow (at least that’s what common sense would guess).

  • avatar
    carguy

    Sajeev – too true, the domestic’s habit of discounting has created a customer demographic that expects deep discounts and incentives (but are at least less fussy about quality). In effect this has damaged their brands and has resulted in some of the accounting led design efforts we have seen from them. They have to keep costs low as they have to be significantly cheaper than the foreign brands in order to meet their demographic’s expectations. So on one hand they need to improve the quality of their products to expand their customer base but on the other hand they have to keep it cheap cheap cheap to maintain their current customers. It’s a deep hole to be digging yourself out of.

  • avatar
    compy386

    1 Star? Okay so the exterior is ugly. I'll give you that one. And to be fair I haven't driven the 08. But I own an 05 Focus and it easily outclasses most competitors in this class. Admittedly the Mazda 3 and Honda Civic are much better, but they also cost $2,000 more and while more refined they don't give you that raw driving feel. Actually when Top Gear reviewed the Mazda 3, they said they prefered the old Focus more. Maybe this new one has lost a little bit of Fun that made the original Focus so great, but in a class with vehicles like the Corolla, it's still a good choice for many customers.

  • avatar
    modemjunki

    Bah. Next year I’ll be looking for a commuter car. This won’t even make the list. Too bad, I’ve owned a lot of Fords – always seemed to be able to find a decent car for a decent price.

    For the moment, though, I’m going to go dust off my SVT Focus and head out for the countryside for a little day-off cruise. It will be a sad day for me when that fun little box isn’t worth keeping any more.

  • avatar
    LK

    As the owner of an ’05 Focus, I just have one question: did Ford hire the designers who came up with the Aztek? How could a design this bad get into production? What were you people thinking? (Okay, that’s 3 questions.)

    I looked at one of these on the lot this past weekend, and it’s much worse in person…I actually pretended to be looking at the Edge next to it, because I was embarassed that someone might get the impression that I was seriously interested in the new Focus. It’s THAT bad.

    And, like I said, I actually own an ’05 Focus…which might be amazingly bland and has the personality of Wonder-bread, but that’s still one big step up from being so ugly you want to claw out your own eyeballs. Does Ford really hate us that much?

    In the Focus’ defense, the primary reasons I bought it were the handling (which was on par with a Mazda 3, and better than anything else in the class) and the fact that it was comfortable at typical 80-100mph highway speeds. Very few of the econo-mobiles seem to be able to handle highway speeds – they turn extremely high RPMs, and feel like they’re going to fly apart once they get over 80mph. I did upgrade the brakes, though…luckily there are numerous options out there, including using SVT components to switch to rear discs & larger front rotors.

    Surprisingly, my Focus has turned out to be very reliable – while it has been to the dealer once for a recall (which took less than 15 minutes), it has never had a single problem in 68,000 very hard miles.

  • avatar
    Ashy Larry

    Re prior comments on cost being the reason this abortion was foisted upon us instead of the EuroFocus: Didn’t I read somewhere that it wound up costing Ford just as much to design, test, create and manufacture this cynical piece of junk than it would have to bring the already-selling EuroFocus over here?

    I just don’t understand this. It’s like selling the old Escort ZX2 back int he late 1990’s alongside the then-new Focus — but at least there consumers could get the mile-better new Focus. Here we are left to drool over unobtanium across the pond while averting our eyes from this “new” Focus disaster.

  • avatar
    blautens

    At first I thought it must be great to work at company like Ford, completely insulated from the pointed questions that real people (like the posters here) would ask…so that they can foist awful products like the Focus on the public with no accountability.

    But then I thought how embarrassing it must be to get your ass completely whipped by Mazda in this segment, considering the corporate relationship.

    I hope the bloated healthcare costs Ford cries about includes mental health – I know I would need therapy if I worked there.

  • avatar
    dolo54

    Sajeev – Well that wasn’t a long wait… TWAT nomination ok now?

  • avatar
    LamborghiniZ

    How disappointing. I can’t say I’m surprised, from the moment I laid eyes on this “”new”” Focus I knew it would be a loser. Ford is really screwing us in the U.S. over, until I read that picture caption you posted Robert, I had NO IDEA that Mexico is getting the Euro Focus!! That makes things way different, I thought Ford was just stupid for not giving America the Euro Focus, but even MEXICO is getting one, and we’re the home country! I really dislike Ford, and I have for a while. This isn’t helping.

  • avatar
    NickR

    *doing best Homer Simpson imitation*

    cheap silver plaasssssssssstic, mmmmmmmmmmmmm

  • avatar
    starlightmica

    Mexico gets the Euro Focus? Why?

    The exchange rate of the Peso to the Euro looks awfully similar to the US Dollar drop.

    http://finance.yahoo.com/currency/convert?from=MXN&to=EUR&amt=1&t=5y
    http://finance.yahoo.com/currency/convert?from=USD&to=EUR&amt=1&t=5y

    Sajeev (responding to post below this one):
    It’s not just the hardback south of the border, it’s the revised second edition with extensive annotations, collector edition holographic cover, and free audiobook mp3 download.

  • avatar
    Sajeev Mehta

    Sajeev – Well that wasn’t a long wait… TWAT nomination ok now?

    dolo: How could I possibly say no?

    And I guess its okay for the rest of us to judge a book by its cover. I mean, its sold as a paperback in the US, but the same publisher sells it as a hardback in MEXICO for about the same price!

  • avatar
    johnf514

    Mama and Papa Ford tried to have another Focus baby, and this one is apparently missing a chromosome.

    *This* is why I bought a Mazda3. :)

  • avatar
    quasimondo

    *sigh*

    This brings me back to the summer of 1987 when I spent a month in England visiting family I never knew I had. One of my cousins had an Escort, a brand new (at the time) 1.8 5-speed model. It was a lively little car and it made me sad to think that my British cousins got a cooler Escort than we did in the States. Things were made worse when I followed him to the dealership to get his car serviced and in the showroom sat a Cosworth Escort, with a rear wing big enough to ride a skateboard off of (this was back when big wings were cool, like on the Ferrari F40 and the Steve Millen customized 300ZX).

    It was bad enough to realize while over there, there were many fun cars whose tires would never touch American asphalt, like the old Mini (and another crazy cousin who would routinely scare the beejezus out of me by sliding his Mini into parallel parking spots). It was a downright kick in the gut to discover that even our homegrown manufacturers gave the American driver the shaft as well.

    Seeing what Europe gets as their second-gen Focus and seeing what we’re given just brought back those painful memories of the summer of ’87. Thank you, Ford for justifying the existence of the Deathwatch series.

  • avatar
    Slow_Joe_Crow

    The Mazda3 is the Focus (euro model) and this is a shoo-in for a TWAT. The sad thing is that the 2003 Focus wagon we drove for a week was a great car, roomy, good handling, reasonable power (2.3l Mazda engine) and distinctive looks. What happened?

  • avatar
    Yuppie

    Why no photo of the peeling duct tape? This TTAC article definitely deserves a photo taken by the author.

    Also, do my eyes deceive me or is that a BMW Hoffmeister (sp?) kink in the rear side windows? No mention of that in the description of the mish-mash styling?

  • avatar
    Axel

    As far as styling goes, the four-door is not entirely hideous. At least from some angles.

    The two-door is a major WTFBBQ.

  • avatar
    Paul Milenkovic

    I own a 96 Taurus, and I drove a Focus wagon once as a work-fleet rental car on business to Chicago.

    I think the Focus is an improvement over the Escort it replaced; it is quite roomy and it pioneered this “back to the future” trend of making cars taller again and giving them more upright seating.

    The two things I remember about are one, the back ache from driving the thing for three hours at a stretch and two, the gas mileage didn’t seem any different than my 24-valve V-6 Taurus. I drive pretty conservatively and generally beat 30 MPG on the highway in the Taurus, and I think I got something like 33 MPG in the Focus.

    I know a wagon is a draggier vehicle than a sedan, and a lot of the “enhanced utility, tall seating” compact cars in the mold of the Vibe, Matrix, whatever they call that boxy Scion, Honda Element have highway mileage ratings not much different than your basic family-sedan Impala, Taurus, Camry.

    But something doesn’t compute about the Focus. It is hundreds of pounds heavier than the Corolla/Civic competition and the gas mileage is nowhere in that league (the recent engine tweakage to get 37 MPG EPA Highway in the manual shift sedan probably represents optimization for the EPA test and not what people get from this car).

    Maybe the thinking was that when the Focus was launched, gas was cheaper than bottled water and that the small-car market was after Spartan and low sticker price — optimizing gas mileage on anything that got over 30 MPH highway was not a consideration. But now with high gas prices, I don’t think the Focus is even in the running for people who want to give up some creature comforts for a gas miser car because the thing isn’t truly a gas miser.

    Maybe the thing to do with it would have been to box-it-out a little bit without increasing the weight too much, and maybe on gas, Spartan appointments, and ugly looks, it could compete in the Scion-Element-Vibe segment?

  • avatar

    There seems to be strong agreement that the new Focus is a disappointment. I offer this to counter (Disclaimer I haven’t driven/rented a Focus in 3 1/2 years):

    When I was renting compacts, I always requested a Focus. I found it drove way better than the other fare at the time and that includes Corollas of the same vintage. I found the Focus taut and Germanic in its feel (no surprise, due to its Euro roots) with terrific steering and seats that I could live with -no small feet for my lanky frame. I find it hard to believe that the car has deteriorated so much in the intervening years, although I accept that the bar has moved with time.

    Styling is subjective at best, although at first glance I agree that it seems less cohesive than the original and certainly less attractive than its European counterpart. I’ve only seen pictures though, so I wonder how it looks in the metal.

    Te big question mark, IMHO, is how the Focus will rate in Consumer Reports. I suspect that a portion of the target demographic may be affected by CR and I really wonder if CEO Mullaly’s -erm- focus on the customer and the paid sessions with CR labs will translate into results in this area. If so, it would at least herald the ability of the new management to fix what they can on a product that was late in the development cycle when they inherited it.

  • avatar
    Alex Dykes

    It is sad that Ford continues to fail in the US. I think that shortly Ford may be deciding whether to abandon their home market at all. If this is the best they can come up with, they might as well save themselves the trouble and start now. The Euro Focus is a great little car, and the Focus convertible is even something I would buy. US Focus? Not so much.

  • avatar
    NICKNICK

    Paul Milenkovic :
    Gas *is* still cheaper than bottled water.
    Just be thankful our cars don’t run on ketchup.

  • avatar
    whatdoiknow1

    We Americans are a funny lot. We have no problem talking about how the dollar is tanking against the Euro and other currencies around the world, but somehow we refuse to acknowledge consequences of the drop in value of our money.

    IT DOES NOT BUY AS MUCH TODAY AS IT DID IN THE PAST!

    Maybe Ford is correct when it says that the Euro Focus is too expensive to sell in the USA. Americans today might be willing to pay a premium for a Honda or VW but are we willing to pay Ford a premium for a Ford product sold at a Ford dealer?

    No, henceforth we get the US market Focus. The car market in the US is so different from Europe that it is silly to compare the two. The Euro Focus would make little sense in this market with the Fusion available for what would be only maybe $1000 more if not the same price considering todays exchange rate.

    Honestly the new Foucs is what it is, a bargin priced low budget car. I am sure one of these babies can be had for a song and a dance. Ford is correct in understanding that it can make more sales to bargin hunters in the USA than trying to convince skeptical Americans on the virtues of the Euro Focus.

  • avatar

    a depressing review of a depressing car. but fully justified.

    after my ’03 protege5 got pranged in a carpark, the rental i was given whilst mine was in for repairs was an ’07 focus with 18k miles on its clock. someone went wild with the air freshener – it reeked like a tart’s boudoir. someone else either wacked a pothole with extreme prejudice or the front wheels were out of balance – either way, the high speed vibraphone was nauseating. it also shimmied and shuddered in reverse. all in all, a recommendation for the fine designers & builders at ford-mo-co. couldn’t wait for the return of my car …

  • avatar
    carguy

    Having read and agreed with most of the Focus’s criticism here I would have to add that given the choice between it and a Corolla I would still choose the Focus. This refresh clearly fell short of most reader’s expectations but at least there was a refresh, unline the Corolla, which is still the unloved grey plasitc appliance it always was. So maybe the Corolla is still more TWAT-worthy?

  • avatar
    Paul Niedermeyer

    Since Alan Mulally is so into “heritage” names, this should have been called Tempo.

  • avatar
    blautens

    carguy –

    I don’t think the Corolla ever had any of the fun to drive characteristics of the previous gen Focus platform. It’s a good “sister” car, though – the type you’d recommend to your sister.

    Having had the pleasure of shopping this segment for a used car a while back, I will tell you that EVERY example of a 4-5 year old Corolla was light years better in terms of interior quality, NVH issues, etc. than the same age Focus.

    The Focus was more fun to toss in a corner every time, but I couldn’t live with the rest of it.

    Fortunately, a used Civic handles pretty well and its bits hold up nicely, too. If only it weren’t so #$%& expensive to insure, thanks to all the tuner boys stealing them for parts.

  • avatar
    CliffG

    I knew you had it in you Allan Mullullaby, baby! Let’s see, a guy who was in charge of manufacturing commercial airplanes is indifferent to coach class, i.e Focus buyers, comfort? And, that is surprising exactly how? The good news is that he is probably really working hard on getting the cost of the tape down, and rationalizing the labor intensity of putting in on. The savings per car can run to 45 seconds and $3.45. Real money baby, and worth the time in figuring those contracts with Hertz. What do mean we have to sell to individual customers? That’s a hassle. Your 2008 Focus, now on sale at Shady Bill’s Ford Emporium (where hard selling is a way of life) for $8999.99*! *one only

  • avatar
    Rallybred

    Guess anyone that wants a “new” Focus should just import one from Mexico.

  • avatar
    LK

    bloodnok: More than likely the front wheels were out of balance – Ford has been having a problem balancing wheels/tires for a few years now. I’m not sure why they can’t seem to do it properly (it’s not that difficult), but I had the dealer re-balance the wheels on my Focus before I picked it up. I did the same thing with my ’04 F250, which had a wheel that was balanced so bad from the factory that it would nearly hop off the ground at any speed over 45mph…it was bad enough you couldn’t even drive the truck. Considering that the truck had only 3 miles on the odometer, I have to assume that someone at Ford seriously dropped the ball on that one.

  • avatar
    discoholic

    Roger Hislop :

    “We designed this Focus to prove that inexpensive does not have to mean cheap.”

    Actually, what Peter Horbury of Ford North America really wanted to say was: “We designed this Focus to prove that cheap does not have to mean inexpensive.”

    Absolutely guaranteed to reap the next TWAT award.

  • avatar
    BEAT

    Looks like the Chevy Cobalt from behind.

    The Ford is adored all over the world.
    I had a 1978 2.0 Double Weber Ford Cortina from England. It was a durable car.

    Ford is always a Ford no matter what and it’s American.

  • avatar
    starlightmica

    whatdoiknow1:

    Ford North America was given the chance to participate in the C1 project but passed on the opportunity due to anticipated cost, just like you said. However, they will be participating with the next variant (C2?) which will have a decontented NA variant. A good example of “could have, should have, would have,” given the next paragraph:

    Ashy Larry:

    Yes, in an issue of Autoweek 1/07 it was noted that Ford spent at least as much, if not more, on the 08 Focus rather than bring the C1 over.

  • avatar
    hltguy

    According to the Ford website, there is already a $500.00 rebate on the 2008 Focus. I am constantly amazed how the brand new models get rebates and other offers slapped on them before they hit the dealerships.

  • avatar
    ash78

    More sand kicked in my eyes:

    The styling–at least from the side–is evocative of the design direction the “Euro Bureau” too with the S-Max and Mondeo. Anyone else see that?

    It’s like “Here’s your Euro Focus! Happy Halloween.”

  • avatar
    eh_political

    What’s the problem here? NAFTA should permit the import of the Euro Focus from Mexico, much like we Canadians can go stateside to save a few bucks. I think you might get dinged an extra 8% because the vehicle is assembled outside North America, but your reward is zipping home in a fun and unique vehicle.

    As for the North American um, “facelift”–Ford cannot afford a misstep like this. They run the serious risk of dropping right off the radar screen. I think mainstream buyers would consider a more attractive reskin, with a more inviting interior. But Ford needs to make this a priority for next year, or it will be too late.

    Mainstream manufacturers have hamstrung themselves with the need for a consistent “design language” across a lineup. BMW’s Chris Bangle referred to this as being: “one sausage, three lengths” for the old 3, 5, and 7 series. Replace the word sausage, with turd, and you have an idea of what is plaguing Ford’s North American car lineup. Then again, Ford cannot even craft a decent automotive grille. Or perhaps you like the buck teeth on your Mk VIII Mr. Mehta?

  • avatar
    LK

    From what I understand, one problem with bringing over the European Focus was that there was an argument over which design language was going to be used – the European kinetic design, or the American “randomly placed shiny & pointy bits” design. The debate is ongoing, and perhaps the American designers included even more shiny & pointy bits in the Focus design to prove some kind of point. (That point being that they couldn’t design an attractive car if their lives depended on it.)

  • avatar
    OhMyGoat

    Ouch! Unsightly from any angle.

    Wasn’t Ford recently crowing about how it took a great deal of the consumer (focus group) input and applied to this pig’s “design”? Reminds me of a ‘Simpsons’ episode where Homer designed a car.

  • avatar

    eh_political :

    What’s the problem here? NAFTA should permit the import of the Euro Focus from Mexico, much like we Canadians can go stateside to save a few bucks. I think you might get dinged an extra 8% because the vehicle is assembled outside North America, but your reward is zipping home in a fun and unique vehicle.

    It probably wouldn’t meet US safety and emissions standards (which are more stringent than Mexico’s), and bringing one up to spec would be horribly expensive.

  • avatar
    carlisimo

    I know you guys think every economy car is too slow, but if you say that corner-carvers on a budget shouldn’t get this car, you need to offer some better alternatives in the same price range. Under $15k, under what you can get a Mazda3 for.

    Is it the most fun to drive car for under $15k? If so that’s great news for a number of people. If it isn’t, then that wasn’t clearly spelled out.

  • avatar
    brettc

    It looks like quite a piece of crap. Seeing as how I can make it for free, I’m not a big fan of paying thousands of dollars for crap.

    I don’t understand why Ford couldn’t have just purchased the equipment needed to build the Euro Focus in North America, install it in a plant over here, and be done with it. I guess that’s logic talking, and we all know that the big 2.8 don’t know anything about logic.

    Years ago, I asked my dad why we never had Fords as cars just because I was curious. I was about 10 at the time. His answer was, “they’re just not good cars”.

    And nice job with the chrome, Ford. I love the two bar grille too. To me it says, “we couldn’t afford the third bar, it would have cost an extra 10 cents per car”. They’re trying to appeal to buyers with fake vents, chrome, and pimp interiors. Wow.

    Here I thought VW made bad decisions for the NA market, but I think Ford might be topping them now. Oh well, Ford doesn’t have to worry about one of these showing up in my driveway. Good job on getting rid of the wagon option too, what a splendid decision. I hope big Al enjoys all his money while Ford is still around. I’d run the company for $50000/yr and they’d no longer be selling feces.

  • avatar
    pdub

    As hard as it was to read, I appreciate the honest review. However, carlisimo is right on. Is this Focus worse than the last one? That’s what seems to be implied. What other new car should we buy under $15k that handles better, is better looking, is more fun to drive, is better built, or whatever?

    I haven’t driven the 2008 Focus yet, but I’ve driven the Cobalt and can say with certitude that it is not better than the old Focus.

  • avatar
    hatsdomino1

    With its Gumby-like proportions, it should have gone the way of the FiveHundred and been called the Escort. What are these guys thinking? How many times can you swing and miss before you get thrown out?

  • avatar
    starlightmica

    carlisimo:

    A Mazda3i sedan for $15k would probably be fine for some of us TTACers, but the base model doesn’t include: air conditioning, side airbags, TMPS (all standard on a comparably priced base 2008 Focus sedan), ABS, power windows & locks, not to mention the automatic transmission.

    The old design gets you value, because Ford’s gotta keep up (or is it down?) with the Cobalt and Caliber.

  • avatar
    Sajeev Mehta

    Sorry for the off topic, but I got called out for this:

    Then again, Ford cannot even craft a decent automotive grille. Or perhaps you like the buck teeth on your Mk VIII Mr. Mehta?

    eh_political: of course I do. Not only does its shape reduce frontal area on such a large car, its plated with indium and withstands a 5mph impact, including the plating. I have yet to see a grill stick out that far into the bumper match this hallmark. Have you? No way the new CTS can pull this off.

    I suspect indium plating is significantly more expensive than chromium. Kudos to Ford, circa 1991.

    Ford would be well advised to dig back and duplicate their design successes, even the ones nobody knows about.

    To reiterate: Damn right I like that grille. Don’t you?

  • avatar
    iowacarguy

    Here’s the interesting thing. While all of you sit here and complain about this car it WILL sell. It may not be everything you are looking for, but it still will make a strong showing for Ford. People buy cars like this out of their desire to own a new vehicle at a price they can afford. The constant ridicule that vehicles like this get is ridiculous and unfounded. I love when people say, “well for an extra $2000 you should have bought xyz.” Let’s be honest, $2000 amounts to about $40/month when it comes to payments and some people just don’t have the extra money. I read the posts and reviews on this site to break up a stressful day since they tend to be so liberal and skewwed that they are comical. Want to know the reason why we don’t have the European Focus over here… because SMART business people (much smarter than most of you in here)know that people won’t PAY for the car here in the States. It’s that plain and simple fact!

  • avatar

    iowacarguy:

    Let’s be honest, $2000 amounts to about $40/month when it comes to payments and some people just don’t have the extra money.

    Fair comment (although I’d hardly call myself a liberal). That said…

    The single largest cost of ownership on a new car is depreciation. So, while a Focus buyer might save $40 a month (a buck something a day), they could lose it all at trade-in time.

    Not a big issue if you’re going to run the car into the ground, but sometimes you get what you pay for. Or not. If you know what I mean.

  • avatar
    whatdoiknow1

    The rumb here is that Ford will most likely sell as many of these half-a$$ domestic Focuses as they would if they were to spend the extra bucks to bring the Euro Focus here. These babies are truly rental fleet material, and on the other hand the rental companies would not be interested in paying a premium for the Euro Focus.

    Ford truly needs to deal with what the consumer expectations are for a low end Ford product. The majority of folks in the USA will not spend Civic money on a new Escort, eh sorry Focus. Yes there are a few of you guys out there that are willing to take a chance on an exciting but less than reliable ride but the majority of folks looking for a $15,000 car will always choose the “safe” choice.

    Had Ford not dropped the ball and let the last Focus fall from grace with no improvements maybe the public here in the USA would be clamoring for a new Focus. Unfortunately that is not the reality and Ford is replacing an “also-ran” that has little cache in the low-end market today.

    One way to look at it is their are many Corolla owners today that are holding off on the purchase of a new car waiting for the new Corolla. The Folks that bought 1st gen Focuses have moved up or on to another brand.

  • avatar

    next time some detroit cheerleader tells me I should “buy american” I’m just going to silently point to this car and the euro focus. ford and gm are in no position to wrap themselves in the flag (all the other complicated issues of who builds what where aside) when they are foisting crap off on us that the rest of the world wouldn’t touch with a rag on a stick. don’t tell me you think i’m an idiot while holding your hand out for my wallet.

  • avatar
    rpn453

    compy386, are you sure Top Gear was talking about the American Focus and not the totally different European Focus?

  • avatar
    CellMan

    I don’t understand. Why does Mexico get the Euro Focus design while the rest of NA doesn’t? Is Mexico’s version built in Mexico? Is it imported from Europe?

    Why instead do we have to suffer this ungainly Focus? If the Euro Focus available a mere border away, why can’t we get it too?

  • avatar
    Joe C.

    One hopes (prays?) that Mulally reads the reasons for the 5-star ratings in the recent TTAC review of the MINI to absorb an inkling of what the world seeks in a small car.

    Then again, maybe all he’d get out of it is the dim-bulb idea to resurrect a nostalgic redux of the Pinto.

    Nevermind.

    This Focus is a useless stalling exercise. Bring on your Better Idea, Ford. For 2009 and not later.

  • avatar
    geeber

    Robert Farago: The single largest cost of ownership on a new car is depreciation. So, while a Focus buyer might save $40 a month (a buck something a day), they could lose it all at trade-in time.

    Not a big issue if you’re going to run the car into the ground, but sometimes you get what you pay for. Or not. If you know what I mean.

    In 2004, my wife’s Cavalier gave up the ghost, and she needed a new car. (We weren’t married yet.)

    She settled upon a 2005 Focus SE sedan, which has been a good, reliable car for her (three years and 52,000 miles so far).

    She IS going to run her car into the ground, so depreciation doesn’t matter to her. She comes from a rural area (western Pennsylvania), and out there, lots of people own Fords, and they DO run them into the ground.

    The mindset regarding new cars in rural Pennsylvania (and other rural areas, I suspect) is very different from that of trendy, well-to-do suburbs, where new vehicles are often treated like the latest fashion accessory. And from where, I have the sneaking suspicion, most of our posters reside.

    And, yes, for her, an extra $40 a month was a killer at that time, as she was still in the early phases of her teaching career.

    I looked at this car last night at the local Ford dealer.

    Is it going to get anyone out of a Civic?

    No.

    Am I disappointed that Ford isn’t bringing over the European Focus?

    Yes.

    Is it beautiful?

    No.

    Is it hideously ugly?

    Again, no. For most people, it will blend into the landscape.

    Is it going to be a complete disaster for Ford?

    No.

    The next Ford small car will be based on the next-generation European Focus, so this is basically a stop gap until the new one arrives.

  • avatar

    Geeber…

    I had a 2000 Kona Focus (remember those that came with the bike). Was a sporty little ride for the money. I sold it a year later and took a shelacking on the resale value.

    Do yourself a favor and test drive a Mazda3. Here in OH you can get a 3i sedan with stick and all necessary features for under $17K. You will be impressed with this car – its precision, its zoom-zoom, its interior appointments and quality, and its residual value 2-3 years down the road.

    Folks these days to ignore residual value when choosing an automobile defies basic economics and good sense. Most folks (statistics prove) do not run a car into the ground but sell or trade it in within 3-5 years. Honda and Toyota owners know this from raw experience. Have you priced a 4 year old CIVIC lately with 40-50K miles on it. It blows your mind what the little buggers still worth.

  • avatar
    iowacarguy

    While I completely agree with the logic about residual value, the typical American consumer does not. Since when did the typical American consumer think about long-term financial goals/positions? If someone has $250/month that they can spend on a car per month, that’s what they can spend. Even if they wanted to take depreciation into consideration, most are not afforded the financial opportunity to do so because they economically cannot. The typical American consumer will simply hope that their financial situation will change in 2-5 years.

  • avatar
    SpottyB

    The reason we don’t get a Euro Focus and Mexico does (and why you can’t just import one from Mex) is a little thing called MVSS.

    I also agree with whatdoiknow in the sense that I don’t think most of the demographic will pay a premium price for a Focus in the U.S. regardless of how good it is.

    Modifying the car to meet our MVSS standards would only increase the cost and put it further away from those who would have considered it.

  • avatar
    carlisimo

    starlightmica: “A Mazda3i sedan for $15k would probably be fine for some of us TTACers, but the base model doesn’t include: air conditioning, side airbags, TMPS (all standard on a comparably priced base 2008 Focus sedan), ABS, power windows & locks, not to mention the automatic transmission.”

    I know, that’s why I posed the question – the Mazda3i and Civic are great, but well equipped they’re quite a bit more expensive than an equally equipped Focus. So how does the Focus compare to the competition in its price point? What sub-$15k vehicles are as good, especially when it comes to steering feel?

    My point is that the Focus might be worth recommending to a driving enthusiast on a tight budget who buys new and holds. But this review doesn’t tell me if that’s true, it only tells me that more expensive cars are better.

  • avatar
    geeber

    CarNut,

    I drive a 2003 Honda Accord, so I understand superior trade-in value.

    But, given that I have no intention of trading the car, and probably won’t until it is near death, the car’s higher residual value relative to its competitors is doing little more than warming my heart right now (although, if it were totaled in an accident today, I would benefit).

    My wife is going to drive her Focus for probably the next 5-6 years. In 2013, I doubt that any 2005 car will be worth all that much. My wife isn’t “most folks,” trust me. She is rural folks, and many of them drive a car until the bitter end. She is one of them.

    I’ve sat in the Mazda3. It’s a wonderful car, and I love the five-door’s styling. But she wasn’t willing to pay the extra price for the Mazda, and any superior residual value on the part of the Mazda will be probably be minimal by the time she is ready for a new car.

    At some point, all cars just become old cars, whether they are Hondas, Fords or Mazdas.

  • avatar
    altoids

    The sad thing is that the Euro Focus is a brilliant car. Even my German roommate drives one.

  • avatar
    pdub

    The question seems to be, if Ford built a $17/18k car (like Euro Focus or Mazda 3) that they sold for $15/16k, would enough people buy it to make it worthwhile? Would the $250/month customers leave or adapt? Would people leave mazda, honda, or vw to come to ford?

    Resale value means nothing to most of the people that buy vehicles in this price range. That argument doesn’t even apply to most of the buying public. I’d argue even most Honda and Toyota buyers don’t care.

    One group that no one has thus far mentioned is the subprime market. Many of these people snub the current Focus and yet badly need to buy a vehicle in this price range. They choose instead to buy used impalas and monte carlos. Would a vehicle that looks better than the new Focus but is cheaper than the Fusion get more buyers from this demographic? Wonder how mazda 3s sell in this market segment…

  • avatar
    f8

    Christ, what an ugly car. Unbelievable

  • avatar
    Redbarchetta

    Aghghg I can’t find one of these within a 100 miles to even look at let alone test drive. I guess the dealers around me know they can’t sell this crap so they aren’t even ordering a single model. The local Ford dealer only sells used cars and a handful of new trucks and SUV’s. I guess that is why I rarely see any Fusions or Flex’s driving around, and I only see Mercury’s from the TV.

  • avatar
    bleach

    If $40/mo is going to put someone over the edge then the buyer shouldn’t even be considering the purchase. Go used and probably get a better car. Other than that a base Mazda3 with Air is just over $15K.

  • avatar
    davey49

    Minimum for a base Focus on Ford’s website would be 14850 for me. That’s an S coupe with ABS, rubber floor mats and Sirius. 15150 for the sedan
    Mazda3 is 16313

  • avatar
    davey49

    bleach- $40 a month is a telephone or TV bill. It’s a lot
    Sometimes used isn’t possible because banks won’t give someone money for a used car but will for new. Even if the new car cost $5000 more.

  • avatar
    dwford

    Our 1st 08 Focus sold in 2 days. It was a black SES sedan with all the options and stickered for a over $20k. She traded an 05 Focus.

    Our 1st Edge lasted longer than that……

  • avatar
    tentacles

    I would just like to point out that buying a brand new car so you can “drive it into the ground” seems like an even sillier idea. Why would anyone want to do that? Why not buy a slightly used one and save a bundle on depreciation? After a few years of driving it into the ground, I don’t think it’s going to make much difference either way.

    Then again, the whole idea of buying a new car is ridiculous from a financial perspective, no matter how you slice it. You want a new car? Lease it. You can’t afford a new car every 3 years? Don’t buy one to start with and just stick to used. I guess it’s just another one of those incomprehensible things that Americans/Canadians do.

  • avatar
    hltguy

    dwford: You guys got over $20K for a Focus? Wow, Barnue was correct. Just curious, how much did you give the customer for the ’05 Focus trade in?

  • avatar
    bleach

    Davey49, I hear you on what $40 can buy. I’m just saying if a $15K purchase makes things tight, then I’d rather make a $7K purchase and have the wiggle room. It might be at a higher interest rate but the overall payment will be easier to digest.

    Back to the Focus, I just caught that it doesn’t have a spare. Recently, I hit a pothole that tore a hole in my tire. No way an air pump would help with that. Does the Focus come with road side assistance?

  • avatar
    Nemphre

    “One hopes (prays?) that Mulally reads the reasons for the 5-star ratings in the recent TTAC review of the MINI to absorb an inkling of what the world seeks in a small car.”

    Or not. The Mini is a niche player and has has no relevance to what people want in a mainstream compact. As startling as it may be, the general public doesn’t want a hoon car. Even the Mazda 3 trails the big dogs.

  • avatar
    xantia10000

    Does anyone over in Dearborn read these comments? Or the thousands of comments I’ve read before about bringing over Ford’s European models? Are they taking any action?

    I’m sorry, I just don’t buy that the European models are too expensive to sell in the USA. Honda, Mazda, Nissan, VW and now Saturn are offering those mighty expensive Euro models here. Why can’t Ford? Those companies found ways to “certify” their models in the USA. Why can’t Ford? Oh wait – Ford already did, with Focus Mk1. Despite some reliability issues, I believe the 1st gen Focus was successful for the company.

    In fact, I had a 2001 ZX3 which I loved driving when it wasn’t in the shop. Mk2 ST 5-door would have definitely been on my new car shopping list, which included GTI 5-door and Civic Si sedan.

    A common theme I read about on some car sites is “support American products.” I really want to, but the so-called American auto manufacturers won’t bloody let me! Could any Ford exec really tell me with a straight face that the “new” Focus is a competitor to VW & Honda? Or should I just lower my expectation and accept the American-branded offering?

    Maybe I should move to Mexico or China or Russia or Serbia where Ford seems to find a business case for selling Mk2 Focuses – places where people can afford such an expensive automobile.

  • avatar
    xantia10000

    Oh, btw, this is the conversation i’d imagine went down in dearborn when it was time to redesign the previous focus:

    Typical Ford exec: “Ok guys, we’ve been milking Focus for the past 5 years – maybe it’s time to redesign and stuff. I think it’s business as usual – just refresh the exterior panels and throw in a new cheaper interior, like we did with Expedition and Escape…”

    Smart Ford employee: “But sir, the new Euro Focus II is about to launch, and it looks to be a great improvement on the current model – great styling and even better handling and powertrain. We can even bring the diesels over, and…”

    Typical Ford exec: “Shut up, idiot – this is ‘Merica, and we don’t need those little shitbox stinkers. In fact, let’s get rid of those weird-looking hatchbacks and that wagon. I don’t know anyone in Michigan who wants one of those anyway. My Lincoln TownHouse xXL would flattenone of these tin cans!”

    Smart Ford employee: “But there’s more to this country than Michigan, and the sales numbers show that the hatchbacks are actually popular on the East Coast…”

    Typical Ford exec: “Shut yer yapper and start decontenting the Focus! You’re distracting me from sitting idly for 10 hours in my big cushy office so I can rack up enough overtime to afford my Bloomfield Hills mortgage and my cottage up north and my new boat.”

  • avatar
    Nemphre

    “Then again, the whole idea of buying a new car is ridiculous from a financial perspective, no matter how you slice it. You want a new car? Lease it.”

    Please explain. Doesn’t the bank have to make some money off of it? I’d like to have a new car just so I know that the previous owner hasn’t dicked around with it in some way. And with a manual transmission, it’s nice to know that someone hasn’t been torching the synchros.

    edit: Just realized that with leasing you have to buy full coverage insurance, which automatically makes it a much much worse deal for me.

  • avatar
    rtz

    I don’t know how or why, but the front view makes it look like a totally different car and I don’t even recognize it as being a Focus. The side view makes it look like a Honda Civic.

    If that dash was hollow, I could fit inside it. I’ve never been a fan of huge dashes. The top of the dash in a `98 VW “New” Beetle is the size of a dinner table.

    Less is more.

    Stock dash: http://www.thedodgegarage.com/reliant/reliant_16.jpg

    No dash: http://www.thedodgegarage.com/reliant/reliant_44.jpg

    See that flat expanse of metal on the no dash pic? That could be the extent of the dash. This dash is literally the same concept:

    http://www.factoryfive.com/roadster/photo/jesper/G1.jpg

    How much money does the entire dash assembly in the Focus cost? Make something like the above and reduce the price of the car by thousands. It’s more challenging to make something less be something more. That monster dash is comparatively easy. That Focus dash might look better if it was black or shades of black instead of that flashy silver. Makes it look like a boom box in a retail store’s electronics section.

    And the heck with those integrated, proprietary radio’s. Stick an industry standard DIN slot in it and choose any off the shelf head unit you want and stick it in. Don’t futz with the form factor. Keep it all industry standard.

    “On the positive side, the Focus’ steering rack is a delight, with perfect weighting, a well-judged turning ratio and more-than-merely adequate road feel.”

    It’s stuff like that that leads me to believe some people in the auto industry are really good at their jobs. I’ve driven various cars in the past that each had something particularly good about them.

    Hey Ford. In 2009, instead of selling this model again as it is, why not a quick and dirty rear wheel drive conversion? Take some existing engine/trans setup and shoe horn it in?

    A high performance Focus would be interesting. A hybrid Focus would be interesting. An all electric Focus that rivaled the Tesla Roadster in range and performance would be interesting! Anything other then this average setup it currently offers. This car will never be number one with mid range mpg and nothing to brag about performance. No reason to buy this car. Price, performance, economy. It’s nothing.

    If you want to OWN the car market: Two models of every single vehicle. Outright performance that will annihilate all the competition. The other model will annihilate them on mileage.

    A Focus model that gets better fuel mileage then any Honda or Toyota. A Focus model that will dust most performance cars. One is either an optimized 4 cylinder or hybrid. The other is turbo charged.

    How about two different suspension offerings? Soft or firm?

  • avatar
    Jerome10

    Sounds like the real winning items on the Focus have been lost, while what needed updating did (interior) and didn’t (exterior) get done.

    The old Focus was getting long in the tooth, but even just a couple years ago, it was still a very solid litle car. The suspension was done right, the steering has ALWAYS been one of my favorites, it is superb, and you could get a choice of engines. If you didn’t care, there was small and puny. If you wanted something a bit gruntier and more competitive, you could get that too.

    And the SVT has got to be one of the best bang-for-the-buck little “hot hatches” of all time. A cousin bought one in 2004 I believe. Superb automobile. Another relative had a RSX Type S, and being a bit biased, I figured the Acura would be the far better car. Bzzzzt. After a couple days in that Focus I would have taken it in a second over the Acura. Sure the engine wasn’t as much fun, but it was very peppy and good in-town grunt. But the handling is what sold me. It was tossable, firm but ultra compliant (Acura is stiff), it didn’t get upset in mid-corner bumps (Acura back end likes to hop), and the steering was to-die-for, including the fat little steering wheel. Add to it it had a back seat real people could fit in, and a bigger hatch, and an amazing stereo and I was completely sold. Its too bad it didn’t sell, because even today I think that SVT focus would be highly competitive with the GTI/Si/Mazdaspeed3.

    Now it looks like junk, gets an improved interior (ok, that is nice), but has a low power engine, softer suspension, and went from a cheeky, kinda fun econobox to a penalty box. Maybe i don’t know the market (I’m amazed how many people want soft and comfortable over a bit of firm and zip), but everything I actually respected about the focus (including the hatch) is gone. Sounds like even the superb steering was dumbed down.

    Maybe I could get over it, or give it a try, just for fun. But the problem is the car is so damn ugly nobody is even going to get to the test-drive portion.

    Its truly a shame. They had a winner (at one time top pick from CR) that just needed a little tweaking and a refresh/redesign. Instead they went backwards.

    For some reason it kinda saddens me.

  • avatar
    Jerome10

    Regarding the Escape interior…

    I find it a HUGE increase over the old one. If the Focus can be the same, I don’t have a problem with it.

    And since when did Bloomfield Hills replace the Grosse Pointes as the place for Ford execs to have their mortgage? :p

  • avatar
    jurisb

    what a shame, that ford could afford to use the previous generation focus to concoct the new one. imagine a new Focus, that already has zero NA engineering in platform, because it is mazda3 based, is even more a beancounter, because keeps the old outfit. just a notch reskinned.If ford bossses thought they really could sell this car well against the same mazda 3, i imagine what kind of quality demnads Americans have? I believe you could sell any garbage in North America, for the audience, that represents quality – oriented americans, stressing americans, is aging, anf shrinking. right , why wouldn`t you sell a Focus, say, to Burito ? Immigration decreases the quality demnads for everything, thus causing subpar manufacturing to prevail. and that bang for the buck manufacturing kills american industry, for they can`t compete at home, not even mentioning Europe or Japan. yeah, try selling this focus in Japan.

  • avatar
    andrewr

    I owned two Fords in the late 90’s and early nougties.

    Both Fords broke down with exactly the same problem – a failed engine management system, where the revs suddenly increased while the car limped along.

    I should add that both these Fords were European – a Fiesta 1.25 and a Focus MK1.

    After two years, the Fiesta was knackered, if you understand the English expression and I was told that my mileage was high – 25,000!!!!

    The Focus had numerous quality problems, the most worrying was the fact that a bolt was missing from the steering column. It wasn’t on the floor of the car, it was missing – indicating it had never been included in the first place.

    I bought the Fords – the first new cars I ever had, due to their dynamic qualities, and for that I was very happy, though the Focus was underpowered – it was a 1.4!!

    My reason for moving from Ford was the variable dealer quality, the scrappy detail finish and subsequent reliability problems.

    Quality is so important with a car and I think your recent interview was fascinating.

    My Focus had an incredible quality issue much later in my ownership. Once I drove to Derry one evening, after getting out of the car I noticed a tar-like substance on my fingers. It was only the next day I realised that the leather steering cover had worn away. Shocked, I later visited a large Dublin dealer and was told this wasn’t an unusual event and I would have a new wheel!! By the way, the car was only 16 months old.

    Personally, I think Ford doesn’t take quality seriously and it never will – I see the same problems appear in the new Mondeo. Maybe they take that the sheep will still buy them regardless.

    Keep up the good work.

    PS – The uninvited contributions by that other person shows that Ford clearly subscribes to the ‘Big Brother’ mentality of corporate communications.

  • avatar
    BuzzDog

    In reading this review and looking at the photos, I have one burning question: Would someone please explain this styling trend (and I use the term “styling” loosely) of placing a fake vent between the front wheel and front door of almost EVERY new vehicle design that has come out in the past year or so?

    Not only does it break up what could otherwise be clean, uncluttered lines, it looks like something from Pep Boys has been slapped onto the vehicle. Oh, and I’m sure that Pep Boys, J.C. Whitney and others will soon be selling these as an aftermarket “accessory,” if they’re not already.

    They remind me of opera windows (and their progeny, the opera lamp) in the 1970’s. And don’t get me started on fake cabriolet roof coverings…

  • avatar
    ash78

    Jalopnik’s price as tested was nearly $20k. They reported base as over $16k.

    Not sure why everyone keeps trumpeting the “sub-$15k” thing here…for that price, I’d take a VW Rabbit. Or if I weren’t mechanically inclined, a used Civic.

  • avatar

    BuzzDog:
    Not only does it break up what could otherwise be clean, uncluttered lines, it looks like something from Pep Boys has been slapped onto the vehicle. Oh, and I’m sure that Pep Boys, J.C. Whitney and others will soon be selling these as an aftermarket “accessory,” if they’re not already.

    They already do. I’ve seen several Chrysler 300s with “ventiports” like those on the Lucerne stuck in their front fenders, and a few other cars with fake vents of different styles in various locations.

  • avatar
    SpottyB

    Isn’t everyone being just a little harsh??? I mean they don’t exactly have the biggest engineering budget after losing $12+B last year. Maybe when they make some money they will be able to put out a decent small car offering in the U.S.

  • avatar
    bascho

    I think most people forget that Ford is a majority stock holder of Mazda and more importantly thinks of them as an extension of Ford. This means they try to arrange vehicles between the two companies to meet all needs at each price range. You have $14-15K, here’s a Focus. You have $16-17K, here’s a Mazda 3. You have $18K-20K, here’s a Fusion. You have $21-23K, here’s a Mazda 6 (if you like sporty) or Mercury Milan (if you’re a female or metrosexual male). Obviously with certain optional equipment there is overlap, but you get the point. If you love the Euro Focus then get the Mazda 3. Ford probably makes more money off the return on the investement in Mazda selling Mazda 3’s then it would selling the Euro Focus here in US.

    The people that run the Domestic 2.8 are not the morons they are made out to be on this site. Most are ivy league b-school grads that have ivy league engineers and marketing folk working beneath them. Isn’t it possible that the problems facing the big 2.8 might be a little more complex than you think? Isn’t it possible that those companies that are prospering vs those that are not could be partly attributed to luck? Plans for vehicles are made 5-6 years in advance…..hell once you know what you’re going to make it still takes 2-3 years to get that to market. Unless someone has a crystal ball in the board room, all success depends a little on luck. Certain aspects of the business are under complete control such as costs and quality…..but which product will be hot is not one of them.

  • avatar
    jthorner

    I don’t buy Ford’s argument that it would cost more to bring the latest Euro design to the US. Wasn’t the whole point of the big “Ford 2000” push way back when to design “World Cars” with “one team”? What the **** happened?

    There is no way it is cheaper to redesign the old platform for the US than it would have been to simply make the new platform salable worldwide. I also don’t believe the Ford Europe was allowed to raise the manufacturing cost of their Focus by $1-2k per vehicle with a redesign. What kind of a modern automotive company raises the cost of production with each new generation of vehicle? Honda and Toyota surely don’t do so, and Toyota at least is suffering some quality problems as a result of it’s relentless cost reductions.

    I will bet my last dollar that the real reason for the US-only Out-Of-Focus is that the US small car fiefdom was allowed to have it’s way against the best interests of both the company and it’s customers. This kind of screwed up internal political culture is what also turned Motorola from an electronics industry powerhouse into an also-ran.

    Ford’s next advertising campaign should follow the trend of using classic rock songs as the hook. The Who’s Won’t Get Fooled Again with a special focus on the line “Meet the new boss, Same as the old boss” would be perfect.

    Yeaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!

    Too bad this board doesn’t provide for embedded audio.

  • avatar
    TaxedAndConfused

    This bun-time I went for a run in a new Euro Focus ST. Katie’s comments about them being cheaply made are certainly true, we are talking lots of chrome coloured plastic and quite a few niggly bits.

    But hats off to Euro ford, the fast ones are nice places to sit just like they used to be until about 1988 (Cosworth ‘Scrote excepted).

    It was fast, very very fast. It stuck to the road like glue and even without traction control (available with the £2k extra ST2) it doesn’t slip and slide its way up the road despite being FWD.

    This is a bit of a revelation really.

    Car magazine once put a new Fiesta RS Turbo on its cover with the headline “Another duff fast ford” in the early 90s and, Cosworth excepted, that was true for the whole range.

    The MK5 Scrote RS2000 was poor, the XR3i a joke and the Si just another model. The Focus RS started this revival and it seems that Ford have got the bug again.

    It also means I might save the budget I was going to spend on an old 1979 MK2 RS2000 “fun-day” car and trade my VRs for an ST2.

    If you hear a “weeeeeeeeeee” from the east, that will be me.

    As for this american

  • avatar
    Sajeev Mehta

    Wasn’t the whole point of the big “Ford 2000″ push way back when to design “World Cars” with “one team”? What the **** happened?

    That’s what I’d like to know. They also spent a lot of money in IT supply chain infrastructure and I *thought* it would translate into a stronger push for even more Contour/Mondeo, Cougar/Cougar and Focus/Focus connections between Dearborn and Ford Europe.

    I was under the delusion that Ford 2000 would save money on world cars and make region-specific vehicles (Panthers, Trucks, Kas, Mustangs, etc) on a smaller scale.

    Oh, how the mighty have fallen.

  • avatar
    whatdoiknow1

    Considering that the GM/ Toyota venture has been reasonably successful marketing both the Matrix and Vibe I cant understand why Ford refuses to do the same with the Mazda3 and Focus.

    Maybe the answer is simple: Ford knows that a close association between any Mazda and Ford product would only hurt the sales (and Image) of the Mazda product.

    This POS Foucs is a punch in the face to the entire domestic auto industry. What Ford is doing is reinforcing the PRECEPTION that Japanese and Eurpoean automobiles ARE better than anything being built in the USA. For a comapny that wants to wave the US flag here they are quite willing to strave all of it USA made products while making sure that the MAzdas and Volvo are the best they can be.

    Volvo= Top
    Mazda= Middle
    Ford= Bottom

    So if folks want to believe there is a perception gap in the US auto industry today just look at business practices of the big 2.8. To sell their newly acquired brands they are prefectly willing to short-change the traditional domestic products. Lincoln is a dead brand today because in Ford’s view of the world a Jaguar must be better than a Lincoln and Volvo better than a Mercury. A Range Rover must be better than an Ford truck, and those Japanese Mazdas must be better than any Ford product.

    Now please tell me why on earth should I ever consider buying any thing with a Ford badge on it?

    With this type of marketing it is no wonder that Ford is in deep trouble today.

  • avatar
    y2kdcar

    BuzzDog:
    Not only does it break up what could otherwise be clean, uncluttered lines, it looks like something from Pep Boys has been slapped onto the vehicle. Oh, and I’m sure that Pep Boys, J.C. Whitney and others will soon be selling these as an aftermarket “accessory,” if they’re not already.

    Frank Williams:
    They already do. I’ve seen several Chrysler 300s with “ventiports” like those on the Lucerne stuck in their front fenders, and a few other cars with fake vents of different styles in various locations.

    The 2008 Ford Taurus sports similar gauds on its front fenders, though they’re a bit more subtle than the ones on the Focus. With tasteless decorations like this appearing on more and more cars, can the return of the tail fin be far behind?

  • avatar
    Sajeev Mehta

    +1 for whatdoiknow1

    So if folks want to believe there is a perception gap in the US auto industry today just look at business practices of the big 2.8. To sell their newly acquired brands they are perfectly willing to short-change the traditional domestic products. Lincoln is a dead brand today because in Ford’s view of the world a Jaguar must be better than a Lincoln and Volvo better than a Mercury. A Range Rover must be better than an Ford truck, and those Japanese Mazdas must be better than any Ford product.

    Beautifully put.

  • avatar
    umterp85

    -1 for whatdoiknow1

    Lincoln is not dead.

    Lincoln may not be the brand of yore that we all want, but sales are up double digits YTD making Lincoln one of Ford’s few bright spots. The MKX and MKZ are doing well.

    I reckon this double digit increase trend will continue in 2008 with the MKS intro. This should buy Ford time to invest the Jag / Land Rover sell-off profits into Lincoln and re-build it into a brand that isn’t merely upscale Fords.

  • avatar
    Sajeev Mehta

    umterp85: of course it went up, they had stale product for years. They went from absolutely nothing to something.

    But the market is saturated with players. I doubt Lincoln will continue to trend upward at this rate with any car, especially the MKS. Look how great the sistership Taurus is doing these days.

  • avatar
    Steve Biro

    It is my understanding that while the dollar-euro exchange would make it more difficult to bring the European Focus stateside, the real reason we don’t get it is that the Euro Focus has drifted too far upmarket – dangerously close to the spot occupied by the Fusion in North America.

    That being said, the next question is why didn’t Ford at least steal more styling cues from the Euro Focus? That is a legitimate point and I suspect Alan Mullally asked the same question. Remember, Mulally was hired only three months before this version of the U.S. Focus was unveiled at the 2007 Detroit auto show. I suspect it was too late to do anything. Already, we have heard him say that he wants all Fords to share consistent styling themes regardless of which continent they come from. So we may find the solution in the next generation of cars.

    For those who who would burn Mulally at the stake for speaking so highly of this interim U.S. Focus, I ask you: What would you have him do? Stand up and say “Our bad, folks. Just ignore this car and wait a few more years to buy a car from us.” He’s the CEO of an automaker that’s in deep trouble and needs cash to execute its turnaround. Ford North America is tapdancing until it can get the next generation of products out.

    Now, having said all of this, I agree with most on these boards about the true failure of the styling of the U.S. Focus. And the absence of the 2.3-liter engine from the Mazda3 S is a slap in the face to enthusiasts on a budget.

    This version of the Focus might very well be fine for non-enthusiasts. In fact, we’d better hope that it is if we want Ford around to build that next generation of improved vehicles. But I won’t be buying one. I’m a long-time Ford guy. But I’m also am enthusiast on a budget. It looks like a Mazda3 or maybe a two-door Saturn Astra for me.

  • avatar
    umterp85

    Sanjeev: Unlike the re-badged MKX and MKZ—the MKS will be a unique design with no visual cues to its platform mate (the Lexus model if you will). Additionally—it will have a much more powerful engine.

    Net, I think it will do OK—and seeing as how it is not replacing anything—sales will be totally accretive to the Lincoln brand….thus my comment of increasing sales in’08 vs. decreasing.

  • avatar
    Sajeev Mehta

    umterp85: until I hear verification of that turbo-V6 , the MKS has nothing on its competition. I know its not badge-engineered, but its far from unique with its boxy proportions and knock-off Maserati rear. I don’t see it catching the market on fire, but it will snag a few sales from the V6 Infiniti M.

    I seriously doubt Town Car fleet/retail buyers will be thrilled with it, either.

    Lincoln will plateau, if it hasn’t already.

    Ford better have a lot more tricks up their sleeves come 2009.

  • avatar
    Dynamic88

    “I think most people forget that Ford is a majority stock holder of Mazda and more importantly thinks of them as an extension of Ford. This means they try to arrange vehicles between the two companies to meet all needs at each price range. You have $14-15K, here’s a Focus. You have $16-17K, here’s a Mazda 3. You have $18K-20K, here’s a Fusion. You have $21-23K, here’s a Mazda 6 (if you like sporty) or Mercury Milan (if you’re a female or metrosexual male). Obviously with certain optional equipment there is overlap, but you get the point. If you love the Euro Focus then get the Mazda 3. Ford probably makes more money off the return on the investement in Mazda selling Mazda 3’s then it would selling the Euro Focus here in US.”

    I don’t know, they’d probably sell about as many Mazda 3s anyway, and they’d sell more Foci if it were more like it’s European sibling.

    “The people that run the Domestic 2.8 are not the morons they are made out to be on this site. Most are ivy league b-school grads that have ivy league engineers and marketing folk working beneath them. …”

    Please, don’t make me say W. There are several examples of collossal stupidity at work in the boardrooms of the D3. Graduating from an Ivy isn’t guaranteed to produce good presidents, or good CEOs. That’s not to say every Ivy Leaguer is a moron, but they aren’t all geniuses, or even particularly bright. One does not get in these schools exclusively on academic ability.

    “… Isn’t it possible that the problems facing the big 2.8 might be a little more complex than you think?… ”

    Maybe a bit more complex than I think, but there are a lot of people here who really pay attention to the many aspects of the auto industry. It wouldn’t suprise me if some posters here actually know more about the industry than Rick or Alan. It sure wouldn’t suprise me if some posters had greater knowledge than Boot ’em Bob.

    “… Isn’t it possible that those companies that are prospering vs those that are not could be partly attributed to luck? …”

    The D3 have had an extraordinary run of bad luck then.

    “… Plans for vehicles are made 5-6 years in advance…..hell once you know what you’re going to make it still takes 2-3 years to get that to market. Unless someone has a crystal ball in the board room, all success depends a little on luck. Certain aspects of the business are under complete control such as costs and quality…..but which product will be hot is not one of them.”

    The transplant companies are generally quicker at getting a car from the drawing board to the showroom. You are right, the market cannot be perfectly predicted, but it can probably be better predicted than it has been. How much accumen did it take to realize that if gas goes up in price, the bottom falls out of the SUV and the unnecessary portion of the PU market? It doesn’t hurt Toyota because they havn’t neglected their small cars.

  • avatar

    SpottyB:I mean they don’t exactly have the biggest engineering budget after losing $12+B last year.

    Thats what I thought too, until I read they are one of the highest R&D spenders in the world:

    http://www.motortrader.com/25935/Ford-is-top-carmaker-for-RD-in.ehtml

    Pretty hard to fathom. I have no idea where that money is going.

  • avatar
    Dynamic88

    I’ll still look at this car myself, but the review was dishartening. I really wanted Ford to hit a home run with this – they sure hyped it enough.

  • avatar
    MBsam

    @Dynamic88

    Amen to your comments about that other guy’s post. I keep thinking about the Andy Bernard character from The Office.

  • avatar
    HEATHROI

    its obvious to see where the money goes if you watch NBC- it goes into into Jerry Seinfeld’s vehicles instead of Ford’s.

  • avatar
    Kevin

    If only Alan Mullaly had come out and announced “The new Focus has been canceled. Here’s what it would’ve looked like…”

    He’d a been a hero!

  • avatar
    CarShark

    I’m surprised that there are so many posters coming to the rescue of the car and the people that greenlighted it. No offense to those that hold that opinion, but to me it just smacks of lowered expectations. To me, I have a hard time seriously looking at the good points of a car when it could have been soooo much better, without too much trouble. Seriously, whoever decided that NA didn’t need to be part of the C1 program should have been fired.

  • avatar
    Johnson

    1.) Good luck, Jim Farley. It’s going to be hell trying to do marketing for Ford.

    2.) While the Focus perhaps is fun to drive, a Corolla is better in almost every other characteristic. Whoever thinks a Focus is a better car overall than a Corolla needs a bit of a reality check.

    3.) In the next year or so a new Mazda 3 is coming so Ford better watch out.

    4.) Toyota is about to premiere the new Corolla at SEMA in a few days, and it goes on sale in a few months. The Ford boys better be ready to head for the hills once the new Corolla (and Matrix cousin) hit the market.

  • avatar
    Prado

    U-G-L-Y !!!!
    I can’t wait to see one of these with a wood dash
    kit installed on it!

  • avatar
    davey49

    Well I saw the new Focus today. Actually a nice looking car in person. I’d try one out if I was in the market for a new small car.

  • avatar
    Seth

    Am I the only one who find the exterior design of new focus attractive? Or atleast better than previous rendition of it. Not that I like fords or go near one anyways…. but just saying.

    BTW, a lot of posters on this site are missing a point that one poster did bring up earliar. That is most of america that does not live in cities dont consider brands outside a ford or chevy.

    They have one or two dealers in their town like Ford or GM etc. People are used to buying at that same place and never bothered to go far to check out other brands. Even if they do, they find them ummm alien.

    Besides, they dont buy anything but a ford or gm all the way.. and that goes for their offsprings too.. Generations of people buying nothing but fords or chevys.

    Regarding Point4 by Johnson, Corolla is being redesigned but it has a different character. A golf buyer wont touch a rolla while a civic buyer wont touch a golf. Same goes for focus. Once you are a ford guy/gal, you are one all the way… i.e. until a clutch dies then people nag on them saying nasty things like “You shoulda bought that japanese car”..

  • avatar
    TaxedAndConfused

    If Ford really wanted a return on the Mazda 3 (aka Euro Focus in a Kimono) then why not just sell a Ford badged version instead of the waste of metal that is the new US version ? The last Escort was really a Mazda and not a euro-Escort anyway.

    And in that case it was the US that dodged the “[email protected] car” bullet, the Mk5 Escort was a nasty piece of work all round.

  • avatar
    geeber

    The local Ford dealer had a classic car show on the lot today, so I was able to really look at the new Focus (without being badgered by salesman).

    After this firsthand look, I must retract my previous statements in its defense.

    I’ll leave the styling alone (it is subjective – different strokes for different folks), but the real disappointment is fit-and-finish, both inside and out. On several of the cars the front bumpers did not mate properly with the fenders. The interior is two steps forward when Ford needed to make at least four steps forward.

    All in all, it is a disappointment, but remember it was too far along for Mr. Fields and Mr. Mullaly (especially) to stop. And while it is hardly the “finest small car Ford has ever made,” one must remember that a CEO trying to rally disillusioned workers and desperate dealers is not going to lambaste the new Focus as it rolls off the line. I have a sneaking suspicion that his REAL opinion of the car is considerably different, but he can’t give that opinion for public consumption.

  • avatar
    rocket88

    I rent a new vehicle every month to evaluate its instrument panel. These vehicles are generally in the low- middle price bracket. While i havent rented a 2008 focus, its predecessor was a good car. I just picked up a Toyota RAV 4 limited, the deluxe model . It has acres of interior panels so stone hard they would break a hammer. And the ergonomic layout is not intuitive. The quality frankly doesnt seem much different than many detroit cars ive driven. And the interior styling stinks (i realize thats subjective). The Toyota Yaris is another one that isnt all that glorius. Frankly the chevy cobalt seemed considerably better. I think The home team has pretty much got its quality act together, and seems to be delievering value. But its hard when they have a big cost disadvantage, built up over decades of mismanagement and union greed and featherbeding. I think both groups may have the message now. Cut them some slack, please.

  • avatar
    rudiger

    The 2008 Focus seems like an updated, Ford-version of the 1998 Toyota Tercel.

  • avatar
    blowfish

    I just met a guy selling Ford for a living for few mths now. I had to keep all the unsolicited opinion all to myself. Is kind of hard.
    He says he’s doing OK, I didnt have the nerve to ask him the definition of OK. Say if he moves 1-2 /week with decent prof then is not bad living.
    He said since he started working there, other car dealers tried to entice him there too. Hopefully he’s doing OK. He used to sell Finance/ Life Ins.
    SO he’s no rookie in sales.
    Should Ford lose $3k per car somebody must find them as a good deal.

    I would say these new Focus has a face only a mother could love.
    Why dont they just bring back Edsels, or make her a face like a Shar Pei dog.
    Few yrs the Troll doll was a hit too.

  • avatar
    matt

    To the guy defending Ford’s Ivy League MBA’s, I know an engineer who has an MBA from Harvard. He graduated from the same university (a small regionally known Catholic university) as I did with the same degree, and he claims that his undergrad was much harder than anything he found in Business School. Not to say that they’re a bunch of dummies in the Harvard Business School, but just like certain car marques, sometimes, you pay alot for a name. And anyone who thinks its a GOOD idea to rebadge a 500, slap on some tacky lights and some ‘bling’ and call it a Taurus, can’t be all that smart. (That is what they did right?)

    About the car, not having seen one in person, I can’t say much, but having seen several Euro Focuses, including a few of the ST models, there doesn’t seem to be much of an excuse to give us the current NA styling instead of the Euro styling, unless they think that the NA market is like a flock of morons drawn to shiny things. The Euro Focus looks modern, with a crisp design. This…thing…doesn’t. And that’s just the styling, not the C1 or whatever chassis, or the 2.3L 4-cylinder we’re not getting. They really must think that the average American consumer doesn’t expect much from Ford, so why raise the bar when they don’t have to? Except they do need to raise the bar.

  • avatar
    ash78

    Nothing wrong with “businesspeople” running the show, they just have to have passion for the biz. On the flipside, you can’t really have engineers designing everything about a car. Otherwise the Focus would cost $40k and last 30+ years ;) (not a great business decision in this era of planned obsolescence and consumer excess)

    Based on a few of the leaders brought into the 2.8 in recent years, I’m somehow doubting that automotive passion is paramount in selecting the boss. Especially Nardelli.

  • avatar
    tech98

    I will bet my last dollar that the real reason for the US-only Out-Of-Focus is that the US small car fiefdom was allowed to have it’s way against the best interests of both the company and it’s customers.

    Some people in Detroit still seem to hold the 70s antedilevian idea that small cars are meant to be cheap, deliberately crappy penalty boxes produced grudgingly for those oddballs who can’t be steered into buying a REAL MURKAN big car — an idea that should have expired with Lee Iacocca’s checked polyester pants.

    There are too many imports producing very good small cars and making good profits selling them at premium prices because they are good. Whining that labor costs mean you have to produce cut-cornered junk? Build it in Mexico at $3 an hour. The Fusion/Milan is built south of the border and I don’t see it leading its class in engineering, refinement or dynamics, either. The D3 with their blame-culture seem to excel at producing excuses more than excellent vehicles.

    The D3 won’t survive selling only to the shrinking pool of blinkered small-town midwesterners who only shop at the local Ford dealer and want something basic with a fat rebate.

  • avatar
    quattrolife

    I hate this car. It represents everything that has gone wrong at Ford. And not only that, but the pricing is absolutely the only reason to buy one. I’d go as far as to say I’d buy a Toyota Corolla (which although aging, has a newer chassis) over the “new” Ford. Hideous. Cheap. Tacky. Gimmicky. Say what you will, but one word describes it best: failure.

  • avatar
    quattrolife

    The D3 with their blame-culture seem to excel at producing excuses more than excellent vehicles.

    Spot on. The Euro Focus is such an excellent car, but the American version is simply that, an excuse on wheels.

  • avatar
    jeremy5000

    What’s worse is the Focus seems to cost more than a Civic in Canada. Even if it comes with more standard options I don’t care, who would even consider this over a brand new, cheaper, better made, better looking, more modern Honda? Redesigning the same car twice, no, bad Ford. This is the new Cavalier/Sunfire.

  • avatar
    jcp2

    I’m starting to see more of the new Foci on the roads around me. Aside from the fake silver vent behind the front wheels, which I think should be removed, they don’t look as horrible as the article makes them out to be. The double bladed grill with the slanted headlights seem to channel a vibe similar to the Honda Civic.

  • avatar
    threeer

    AAAAAAUUUGGGGHHHH…my eyes!! They’re burning! My God, what is causing this immense pain? …wait…wait a minute…off in the distance, that blob of metal and plastic, it’s searing my retinas! It’s…it’s…the new Ford Focus…can’t…stare…too…long…may…cause…permanent…damage…

    There should be a warning label on each new Focus to keep people from looking directly at it when driving. Jeez, what in the world was Ford thinking? Oh, wait a minute…they WEREN’T.

  • avatar
    tomaxhawk

    I finally saw this car driving down the road. It was a 2-door model with what looked like basic trim level. My impression: really cheap looking. It appears like one could dent a body panel with a firm finger push. I never trust a car with too-skinny factory rubber either.

  • avatar
    sardini

    The new focus is a BIG disappointment. Just what nobody wanted another pricepoint entry level sedan… boriing.

    Why didn’t Ford bring in the European model????? It’s friggin beautiful compared with anything on the roads here in North America!!!

    To go away from a hatchback is a big step backward too.

    It’s too bad because I sure would’ve bought one…

  • avatar
    limmin

    Based on my research of this car, I must disagree with this review. I’ve read dozens of user reviews and they’re all flattering. Owners especially love the new interior and the incredible mileage.

    Reviewer is correct about the excess wiring in the engine bay. The Ford 2.3L has the same problem, I’ve noticed. (By contrast, the GM ecotec4 is wire-free in the bay.)

    This new Focus should have been a Mazda3 clone. As usual, Ford took the easy way out. But not necessarily a bad way out….

  • avatar
    binker

    After reading your review of the 08 Focus and member comments, I must say there are a lot of really angry people out there. I have had my Focus for about a month now. I’ve put just under 4k miles on it. My review is as follows: I do a lot of highway driving. I am considered an extreme commuter as I drive 70 miles one way to work. I purchased my Focus because I need the great gas mileage. Because of the price of gas, I keep the cruise control set to 65 and I am getting just under 40 mpg with my automatic 4dr SES. I have no problems with passing though I don’t pass many as everyone seems to be driving 65 now adays. This car handles so much nicer than the 01 Gr. Am that died on me. Great visibility, quiet ride and a comfortable seat. I love the Sync. Its no problem to receive a call or make a call. The rear seating is kind of small but I didn’t by this car to drive my family around. As for the looks, I think it looks pretty cool. I don’t really see a big difference with other cars in its class. They all look pretty much the same to me. I don’t think it looks cheap or poorly made. I have had a few people comment that they liked the look. My teenage kids love the ambient lighting. I know when I bought this car that I wasn’t buying a Lexus. I was buying a car that had a few bells and whistles and was economic to drive. That’s what I got. I’m very happy with it. So all you manic depressed, expect everything to be perfect posters should take a chill pill and relax. It’s not as bad as you make it out to be.

  • avatar
    cooz

    I totally agree with Binker. I own a 2008 focus as well and can honestly say that this car rides more like a midsize sedan. My brother’s each own Honda’s…A 2008 Civic and a 2008 CRV and my car rides quieter and just better overall. For all the clueless people that have posted on this site, here’s some reviews from people that actually OWN this vehicle!!

    http://autos.yahoo.com/ford_focus-reviews_user/

    http://autos.msn.com/research/userreviews/reviewlist.aspx?modelid=12750

    http://www.edmunds.com/ford/focus/2008/consumerreview.html

    http://www.24-7pressrelease.com/press-release/2008-ford-focus-is-a-hit-with-online-consumers-41441.php

  • avatar
    rower30

    I’m not sure I understand the comments on the Focus engine. It has the second highest HP in the class with the best torque at the lowest RPM to boot. And, this engine is sweet where you use it, with addressable midrange power the others only dreams of. For a small engine, the compromise of power and handling of this powerplant are excellent. And, the power characteristics of the Focus 2.0L engine pull an automatic like no other small engine I’ve driven. Granted, the stick is the best with a smaller engine.

    This engine is easy to service, too. No cam belt to add $1,000.00 replacement bills (it’s a chain) and the oil filter and drain plug are right under the front of the engine. Oil goes right in the drain pan, not all over the car.

    Only the Mazda is faster, and it is a high RPM hyper fest, too, and not much to my liking. All that tuning for just 8 more HP isn’t worth it.

    By the way, that engine wire “tape” is tough as hell. I have it in my 1992 sixteen year old Ranger, and it looks the same as day one. Now, if it is suppoosed to protect and hold wires together, where’s the beef? Fiberglass textile is excellent material in an engine compartment. What you all don’t understand, is that PVC and TPE soft tough material outgas all the light weight oils that make them pliable and soft, over time. Then, they crack and get hard. Ethylene based plastic (PE, HDPE, LLDPE ETC)may feel more waxy, but it will stay that way for the life of YOU. Not to mention it is FAR easier to clean since it doesn’t pick up stains as badly. I’ll take harder PVC and Ethylene materials anyday.

    The Focus has a ride that feels like a bigger more secure car. Say, a BMW. It is good handling and quiet at the same time. No, it isn’t as hard as the Mazda or Civic (thank God), nor does it have the pure chassis of a sports car. Besides, why would Ford build another Mazda 3? They have one already, go get the Mazda 3 sedan or hatch and ZOOM, ZOOM. Must all the rest of us suffer adolescent urges just to be in a smaller car?

    If you compare this car comparably equipped, it is an amazing deal. I drove everything out there, and this car was clearly better than the rest as a daily driver And, several thousand dollars less, too. My sixteen year old Ranger is still running like new confirming Ford’s reliability, and my 1999 E320 MB is going to be VERY jealous of this car.

    The Europeans? The Saturn Astra is poorly matched to its 1.8 liter engine and transmission. Too little torque, even though it is at a commendably low RPM. With an automatic the drive train makes this car feel heavy and lethargic. Where is the so called European superiority here? Drive an Astra back to back with the Focus, each with an auto and see for yourself. The stick is even harsher on the Astra. The Focus will muscle away every time in town.

    VW? The five cylinder engine is harsh and noisey. And, you pay like heck for it, too. May as well go mid sized as the mileage is awful. This is a great interior effort, though. But the car is oddly placed for size, cost and economy. Its NVH is off the scale for the mid sized class (where it is in price).

    The Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla have the same fate. Too expensive to really compare comparably equipped. For $3,000.00 higher and more they better seem better somewhere! The Corolla really is as dull as last weeks razor blade, even thiough it might look sharp. The Honda is what the Prelude once was, a parts bin of new tech look engineering but pushed onto the masses this time. I don’t need to have a big old tach when I can feel what the car’s engine is telling me. What I do need is an easy way to discern speed at a side glance rowing through the gears in this small rev happy engine. What do you get? A small digital speedometer placed two feet farther out in front of you that you have to “read”. Hint, a big speedometer, please. As a matter of fact, you can drive a good stick with no tach at all if you pay attention to your car. Of course, this is a Honda so we hear nothing of this car’s silly season instrumentation.

    Back to the Focus. Sync? Well, I forgot to memorize all my song names and artists. So, I won’t be talking too much to my car. But, I will load up a nice big thumb drive and plug it in and leave the CD’s behind. I never have been so lame in planning as to have to call anybody from my car, so that’s out, too. But it does recognize speech very well.

    We liked the car so well we bought two of them, a stick (me) and the Auto (my wife). For the money, with such a thought out chassis and drive train, I don’t know how you could go too wrong. I think that if this car had any other name plate on it than Ford, it would be heralded as a breakthrough product for overall composure and refinement. What’s wrong with that?

  • avatar
    ekulwyo

    People always talk about the Sebring being unattractive-I think the Sebring is a Lexus quality car compared to the Focus. Interior sucks harder than the Sebring ever could, and the exterior, at least of the 2-door, is ten times worse. Damn, I just hate this car.

  • avatar
    rower30

    What? The Sebring is a $25,000-$32,000 car. I have a $50,00 Mercedes E320 and I like it better than a 425,000 Sebring. But so? The comparison isn’t valid. Align the price points, please. Try something around $16,000-$17,000 well equipped to the Focus.

    The point is, you have to spend a LOT more to get this kind of value and equipment level outside of the Ford Focus. This car isn’t a special interest car like the Mazda 3 (zoom zoom and expensive), Honda Civic (fit and finish that you pay even more dearly for), Toyota Corolla (what interest, and it still is expensive) or Korean models (low price with awfull driving dynamics). The Focus is a well rounded ECONOMY car with above average driving dynamics. And, it does this very well.

  • avatar
    Becomethemedia

    I haven’t read all the comments – someone may have already brought it up – but if the American people are wondering why they were fed this POS,they should look in the mirror.
    Up here in Canada the Focus was quite popular, in particular the wagon and hatchback models, but stateside these models have been demonized for reasons I cannot begin to understand.
    We know Americans like big sedans, soft suspension and slushboxes for tranny’s, and gas engines only please, the Focus is a direct result of this line of thinking.This thing is the Ford Tempo of its time.
    And Canada is too small a market to justify the exporting the Euro model so we’re force fed what the average American wants. Don’t get me wrong nice people, nice country but when it comes to cars sometimes they’re not all there.

  • avatar
    cooz

    Becomethemedia, I just read your comment. You know, we are so called “Force Fed” with this car as well, but it seems that we like this car just the way it is. Take a look at the reviews. These reviews are from people who actually own one and I’m talking about the “2008 Ford Focus”. The reason for all the positive reviews is because “WE” know a high quality Inexpensive vehicle when we see it.

  • avatar

    I just spent a week in Maui with a little silver Focus, and I have to admit that it seemed a decent little car. I still stand by the fact that it’s ugly, way ugly, Aztek ugly, but it did the job it was meant to do, and the gas mileage info (you can call up the lifetime mpg in a little information box in the gauge array) stated it was returning 29.5 mpg. That’s pretty impressive given the driving conditions in Maui, no long freeway rides or anything, lots of stop and go and mountain driving.

    Also the active MPG meter (another option on the gauge array) was super nifty and made me really try to keep the bars at maximum. All told, I liked the car and it got my wife and I where we needed to go (and the A/C worked great) so I hereby rescind my bafflement as to why someone would buy this car. It’s decent for what it is, but it’s clear that the Focus isn’t trying to be anything other than cheap.

  • avatar

    I haven’t read all the comments – someone may have already brought it up – but if the American people are wondering why they were fed this POS,they should look in the mirror.

    Yes they should. Americans believe that compact cars should be fuel efficient, small and lightweight, and the current Focus is as fuel efficient, small and lightweight as they can get it. It gets around 28 mpg @145 hp. By contrast, the Mazda3 gets 26. That’s around a $150 per year difference. Plus, the Focus is $2000 cheaper.

    Up here in Canada the Focus was quite popular, in particular the wagon and hatchback models, but stateside these models have been demonized for reasons I cannot begin to understand.

    I think that station wagons and hatchbacks are ugly. I think most Americans dislike them for pretty much that reason, which is why so many like compact SUVs. If you can build Americans a hatchback that does not have a curvy front and abruptly cut off rear end like the old Focus had (looks bizarre) more Americans will buy it.

    We know Americans like big sedans, soft suspension and slushboxes for tranny’s, and gas engines only please, the Focus is a direct result of this line of thinking. This thing is the Ford Tempo of its time.

    The Mazda3 everybody wants is bigger. If Ford were out to Americanize the Focus, it would have went for the slightly larger and heavier Euro Focus design. We prefer automatics because we don’t want to row a manual tranny. Gas engines are preferred because diesel costs 40 cents a gallon more than gas in the United States. Bring diesel to premium gas level pricing and many more Americans will gladly buy a more fuel efficient diesel car.

    And Canada is too small a market to justify the exporting the Euro model so we’re force fed what the average American wants. Don’t get me wrong nice people, nice country but when it comes to cars sometimes they’re not all there.

    Americans have their own taste in cars, just as they have their own taste in everything, but everyone agrees that the current Focus is ugly. The styling isn’t what the average American wants, this Focus was kept because it has better fuel economy, is smaller and is cheaper than the Euro Focus it was to be replaced by.

    Also: You guys are getting the Fiesta along with us come 2010, along with hatch and Euro styling.

    I saw a Focus at our local Ford dealer and was impressed. It’s a completely different car in person than it appears in photographs. I’m seriously considering buying a coupe for the fuel economy, and because the Focus coupe has the most rear seat room of any coupes on the market. It may seem silly to buy a two-door car and demand good rear seat room, but I tend to have strange tastes. I always liked the old Focus but wanted a 2-door version. I never liked the hatch. I guess I might just get it, even if the car it comes with is somewhat ugly.

  • avatar
    Babygus15

    I can’t help but notice that pretty much to the person, every single horrible review is from people who don;t own the car. They just eat what the articles reviewer says and regurgetate it, pretty much verbatum. On the flip side, all the people posting who own the car seem to really like it, you might argue that they have a biased opinion and are trying to defend their choice. But then again, the people who have rented one also seem to like it. They all seem to say the same thing “Nothing special, but it gets great fuel economy and got us where we needed to go.”

    Lets disabuse those of you who don’t own one of a few notions: its not sexy, its not fast, it won’t turn heads.

    That said, and if you haven’t guessed already…I own a 2008 2 door Focus SES. I test drove a civic, mazda3,Pontiac G5, Cobalt and Elantra.

    I drive 160 miles roundtrip to work 3 days a week, I am also 6’7″. I was looking for a pure commuter car. I eliminated the two best cars in this class immediately: the civic and mazda3 because they could not get their cars down into the $14k and $15k range. I really liked the Elantra SE(it has ECS –AKA greatest safety invention since seatbelt)but I am 6’7″ and just wasnt comfortable.

    You want a true POS try the G5 or Cobalt. I knew something was amiss when the Pontiac dealer came down to $11,900 on the automatic G5 to keep me on the lot.

    So I got the Focus, and I also paid an extra $1300 and got 100k mile BUMBER TO BUMPER warranty, because I drive about 22k miles a year.

    I average 35 mpg on the freeway to and from work, its got sync, which really is pretty cool. The ride and handling is fine and just like the people who rented it said “It gets me where I need to go”.

    To all the people slamming this car and don’t own one and can’t understand why someone would buy one: ITS A GOOD COMMUTER CAR AT A VERY GOOD PRICE–GET OVER IT.

    The one weird thing is I like the exterior styling. Hope that doesnt invalidate everything else Iv said. Of course I think the Inifinit FX and Scion XB and Nissan Murano et all look insanely stupid. SO if you like those, then obviously we difer in what is aesthetivally appealing.

  • avatar
    merlynbrit

    just bought a leftover ’08 for 11 grand (my second focus actually). what the heck else are you going to buy new for that price? cheap to buy, cheap to run, and proven reliability merit a test drive.

  • avatar
    nikkicoco

    my 2007 ford focus has had nothing but problems with it i looked up online and they have problems with the transmission and alternator going bad around 40-50 thousand miles it is only 4yrs old. so i called bill pierre ford in lake city and i told them how many problems i have had with the car and heard they would fix it for free since there were so many people this was happening to well they were nothing but rude and not willing to help even though they have replaced other peoples transmissions when theirs went out I am so beyond myself right now I am forking out over $3,000 to repair my car. NEVER again will I buy a ford and I will make sure to tell anyone I know to never buy one. worst car I have ever had

  • avatar
    nikkicoco

    My ford focus has had nothing but problems i would never recommend anyone to buy a ford

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