Capsule Review: Ford Focus 1.6L [Euro Spec]

Mike Solowiow
by Mike Solowiow
capsule review ford focus 1 6l euro spec

More than a few members of TTAC’s esteemed B&B have been clamoring for the European specification Ford Focus—ever since Ford decided the original was just fine for the non-discriminating American customer. “If you bring it, they will buy it” our commentariot railed at the Powers That Be. Well, after sampling the latest basic Focus, I can tell you that the Euro Focus sucks just like the American Focus, just not quite as much.

The first inkling that the Schwarz black, manual transmission 2009 Ford Focus 1.6L was a turd: when I failed to find a comfortable driving position despite the multitude of levers and knobs arrayed on the side of the seat just for that purpose. Push, pull, twist, jerk; I never could get quite comfortable. The steering wheel was too high or the shift knob too far away or my feet were splayed at weird angles. It also smelled like cabbage but this might not have been Ford’s fault.

I settled for slightly awkward and motored off to the A60 autobahn. Puttering down an L-road (not motoring, as the 1.6L proved woefully inadequate to power the overweight compact), I realized that the verve-to-corner ratio remained from the original Focus. The Blue Oval Boyz sure know how to tune a chassis. And yet, somehow, the rest of the car conspires against this excellence. Brakes, gearbox, steering—none of the major systems works in harmony with the other. Trying to get the most out of this economy car quickly transforms the Ford Focus into a rolling box of pent-up frustration. It felt cheap, tinny, unsubstantial, brittle and not completely not fun.

The stoppers remain the Focus’s single worst aspect. As I crested 160 kmh (downhill) at full steam, I tried to brake for a Fiesta that pulled out into my lane. As the Focus’s wimpy calipers attempted to scrub speed, the stop pedal sank to the floor. The Ford Focus wiggled and squirmed under the pressure, threatening to cause another navigation course correction (I nearly slammed into the central barrier). I had moment, after moment, after moment . . . .

After conversing with the European B&B, I will reserve final judgement on the Focus until I have sampled the higher-spec models, such as the 2.0L petrol and diesel versions, or the interesting Focus CC (Convertible in German). However, from my initial impressions, if you are a North American reader and aspiring European compact driver, stand down.

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  • Don1967 Don1967 on Apr 04, 2009

    I am so disillusioned. To dis the Euro-Focus is like writing a letter to Car & Driver bashing the Honda Accord. It's heresy I tells ya!

  • Niky Niky on Apr 07, 2009

    And the regular 2.0 Focus is also quite a ways away from the rental. @FromBrazil: That's a worrying thought. The hatchback Focus is so much better than the sedan that it's the de facto choice in Focus buying... and for a market the prefers sedans uber alles... that's a bad thing...

  • Kat Laneaux Agree with Michael500, we wasted all that money just to bail out GM and they are developing these cars in China and other countries. What the heck. I understand the cheap labor but that is just another foothold the government has on their citizens and they already treat them like crap. That is pretty disgusting to go forward to put other peoples health and mental stability on a crazy crazed, control freak, leader, who is in bed with Russia. Thought about getting a buick but that just shot that one out of the park. All of this for the greed. They get what they lay in bed with. Disgusting.
  • Michael500 Good thing Obama used $50 billion of taxpayer money to bail them out and give unions a big stake. GM is headed to BK again with their Hail Mary hope of EVs. Hopefully a Republican in office will let them go BK the next time, and it's coming. The US economy is not related/dependent on GM and their Chinese made Buicks.
  • MaintenanceCosts "Rural areas hardly noticed COVID at all."I very much doubt that is true in places like the Navajo Nation or the Kenai Peninsula in Alaska, some of which lost 2% or more of their population to COVID.No city had a death rate in the same order of magnitude.Low-density living is a very modern invention. Before cars, people, even in agricultural areas, needed to live densely to survive.
  • Wjtinfwb Always liked these MN12 cars and the subsequent Lincoln variant. But Ford, apparently strapped for resources or cash, introduced these half-baked. Very sophisticated chassis and styling, let down but antiquated old pushrod engines and cheap interiors. The 4.6L Modular V8 helped a bit, no faster than the 5.0 but extremely smooth and quiet. The interior came next, nicer wrap-around dash, airbags instead of the mouse belts and refined exterior styling. The Supercharged 3.8L V6 was potent, but kind of crude and had an appetite for head gaskets early on. Most were bolted to the AOD automatic, a sturdy but slow shifting gearbox made much better with electronic controls in the later days. Nice cars that in the right color, evoked the 6 series BMW, at least the Thunderbird did. Could have been great cars and maybe should have been a swoopy CLS style sedan. Pretty hard to find a decent one these days.
  • Inside Looking Out You should care. With GM will die America. All signs are there. How about the Arsenal of Democracy? Toyota?