Capsule Review: Ford Focus 1.6L [Euro Spec]

Mike Solowiow
by Mike Solowiow

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.

Mike Solowiow
Mike Solowiow

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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...

  • IBx1 Never got the appeal of these; it looks like there was a Soviet mandate to create a car with two doors and a roof that could be configured in different ways.
  • CAMeyer Considering how many voters will be voting for Trump because they remember that gas prices were low in 2020–never mind the pandemic—this seems like a wise move.
  • The Oracle Been out on the boat on Lake James (NC) and cooking up some hella good food here with friends at the lake place.
  • ToolGuy Also on to-do list: Read the latest Steve S. fiction work on TTAC (May 20 Junkyard Find)
  • 1995 SC I'm likely in the minority, but I really liked the last Eldorado best. That and the STS.