By on February 27, 2017

2017 Ford Focus Titanium Hatchback, Image: Ford

It disappeared in the night. There was no fanfare. No protest. No grand announcement. Barely anyone even noticed. They all just kept buying amorphous transportation blobs with available all-wheel drive. No one took the time to look at the options list on the compact car bolted to the dealership floor.

That’s right. In the United States of America, the 2017 Ford Focus hatchback is no longer available with a manual transmission outside of the ST and RS.

2017 Ford Focus Titanium Interior, Image: Ford

The Focus hatchback returned to our purple mountains majesty and amber waves of grain for the 2012 model year. Since its return, the body style has been available with a direct-injected 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine and five-speed manual transmission. Both engine and transmission can trace their roots back to the time when Ford and Mazda were Best Friends Forever.

This combination of engine and transmission paired with the well-balanced Focus chassis made a compelling entry-level enthusiast vehicle. While the regular Focus lacks the power of the GTI or Focus ST, it’s at its best when the 2.0-liter Duratec is paired with Mazda’s venerable three-pedal cog swapper. Manual Focus owners also avoided the woes of the dual-clutch transmissions. Jack Baruth even gave the Focus SE hatchback praise on these pages. His opinion echoed mine and many others:

Truth be told, the Focus SE only makes sense if you send this sedan back to the dealership and build the Focus the way it was meant to be built: as a hatchback, with the upscale SE trim package, the winter package, and the navigation. When you do that, you have a fully equipped five-speed, 2-liter hatch with everything from dual-zone climate control to reverse-parking sensors, for a post-incentives $22,275. This is enough car for almost anyone, offering all-weather capability, plenty of room, and the aforementioned vintage-Benz sense of freeway solidity. That is a great car.

Until the current model year, Ford offered a Sport Package for the regular 2.0-liter, five-speed hatchback. This $1,100 package added 17-inch wheels, a body kit, fog lamps, leather-wrapped steering wheel, disc brakes at all four corners, and a rear spoiler. For under $20,000, someone could purchase a well-equipped Focus that was fun to drive. There was also a package between the SE Sport and the more upscale equipment that Jack described.

This Focus was a budget driver’s car. But unfortunately, it no longer exists. It was a victim of low gas prices, shrinking small car profits, and America’s insatiable lust for the CUV. When the current generation started rolling off the Michigan Assembly plant line in 2011, there were over 200,000 different build combinations. For the 2017 model, there are only 300. Compact buyers are losing choices, and the manual transmission one of them. For the next-generation Focus, America will only receive 30 build combinations.

Now the Focus does have manual transmission options outside of the ST and RS. However, both are on the sedan. The 2.0-liter, five-speed combo is sole offered on the visually offensive Focus S sedan. The suitcase sized 1.0T three-cylinder is paired with a six-speed transmission on the Focus SE sedan. Neither of these are replacements for the hatchback.

Ford has discovered America wants hatchbacks, but mostly performance hatchbacks. While Fiesta and Focus sales were down in 2016, Fiesta ST and Focus ST sales were up. Ford’s addition of the Focus RS also added a decent number of performance hatchback sales to Ford’s U.S. sales numbers.

In reality, there isn’t that much room for a mild hatch in the time of the CUV and #midsizesedandeathwatch — especially one wearing a Blue Oval. The Fiesta ST is around the same price as the now dead Focus SE Sport while the Focus ST is just a few thousand more. Both of those vehicles are more fun to drive. Both also offer visual and engine upgrades over their mainstream siblings.

I don’t expect anyone to shed a tear today. Volkswagen still makes the Golf with the 1.8T and a five-speed manual. Chevy will sell you a Cruze hatch with a manual transmission. Our managing editor even enjoyed driving the Cruze. The Mazda 3 has two different engines paired to six-speeds, and others occupy that space, too. However, few compact hatchbacks provide a fun to drive package with a manual transmission at the price point of the outgoing Focus SE hatchback.

I’ll mourn the loss of a fun to drive, value-priced vehicle with a naturally aspirated engine and standard transmission. Hopefully you will too.

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81 Comments on “2017 Ford Focus Hatch Loses a Pedal...”


  • avatar
    Corey Lewis

    I may be a bad person, because I thought outside the ST and RS the manual was already gone. Like in 2011.

  • avatar
    ajla

    It makes sense to me. The PowerShift is so universally well regarded, why not make it the standard offering?

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    The ST probably did this thing in. For $2K more than that SE you get 50% more power, 100% more torque, better brakes/suspension/seats (I think?) and other stuff that matters to people who still insist on driving stickshift.

    Ford definitely needs to do something about Powershift though. Maybe just accept the L and go back to an efficient auto with aggressive TC lockup. Works for Mazda. If they can match the overall refinement of something like the ZF8 they will be golden.

  • avatar
    revjasper

    Ford was never serious about the manual hatchback. This generation of Focus has a 60/40 split rear seat with the Auto, and a one-piece with the stick shift. That means that any enthusiast who needs a car seat and a stroller in the car better buy a stick shift hatchback from someone else.

  • avatar
    FormerFF

    I had a Mark I Focus hatch with a five speed, really a lot of fun for not much coin. I’m not surprised to see the manual transmission go away from compact sedans and hatches, but I didn’t think Ford would take this step so soon.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Announcing that the PowerShift was going away and being replaced by a plain old 6 speed auto would have caused much rejoicing – even at the rental counter.

    • 0 avatar
      Adam Tonge

      The PowerShift is no longer the only automatic transmission available on the US Focus. The 1.0T is paired to a regular automatic transmission. Not that anyone wants that engine in a Focus…

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        Not true, Adam, plenty of folks want to go slow AND get mediocre fuel economy.

        • 0 avatar
          Lorenzo

          Convenience tops all other considerations. Having to shift limits smart phone usage. When government nannies realize that, they’ll mandate more standard transmissions.

          • 0 avatar
            Paragon

            I suspect they will in the near future highly promote self-driving cars so people can call, text, take selfies and do other stuff with their smart phone while driving. And, especially to allow people not to drive home after spending all hours of the evening into the wee hours of the morning at a bar.

  • avatar
    statikboy

    So does that mean that Canada is still the Land of Inclusion and Choice?

  • avatar
    tresmonos

    Man I remember this thing when it first came out. It was symbolic of Ford rejoining the rest of the world in terms of driving characteristics and good design. No longer were they giving the small car buyer the cold shoulder. Granted the test track was part of the assembly line to ‘break in’ the powershift.

    How quickly we forget our lessons. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Jack Nasser plastic POS upon the public then getting his one off leather clad Euro Focus spit shined at the end of the flat top again. The horror. THE HORROR.

  • avatar
    No Nickname Required

    Such sad news on a Monday morning:( My brother owns 2013 Focus SE hatchback with a manual. In my opinion the manual transmission takes an otherwise bland econobox and transforms it into a fun little car.

    RIP Focus hatchback manual. You will be sorely missed by (almost) no one.

  • avatar
    JimZ

    If you didn’t buy a Focus hatch with a manual, you’ve no place complaining.

    • 0 avatar
      Adam Tonge

      I did buy one. My wife and I have owned four vehicles from MAP. Two had manual transmissions.

      I also wish my current MAP assembled vehicle, the C-Max, came with the 182 HP 1.6T and 6-speed that it does in Europe. I understand why it doesn’t though.

    • 0 avatar
      A strolling player

      Bought a 2013 Focus Titanium hatch with a manual, put 68000 miles on it, and just this month traded it in for a Chevy SS. This news is a bummer.

  • avatar
    Add Lightness

    30 build combinations….

    What’s that mean? 6 colours x 5 packages?

    Sounds like the model T option and colour list.

    • 0 avatar
      Adam Tonge

      I don’t know if the 30 “build combinations” is with or without colors. It seems like that number will include color. Right now, every Focus trim has one to three options that aren’t dealer installed. I imagine there won’t be those one to three options next time around. Just the trim levels and colors.

  • avatar
    syncro87

    I’m surprised that they kept the manual in the sedan instead of the hatch. I would have assumed, incorrectly I guess, that the few Focus buyers who wanted a manual would tend to gravitate toward the hatch style more than the sedan.

    • 0 avatar
      Adam Tonge

      It exists in name only. They must make seven or eight Focus S sedans with the 5-speed a year. The 1.0T SE sedan with the 6-speed manual can’t be a big seller either. I don’t know why either exists.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        If you dig around “Build Your Own” features long enough you always can find combos that exist in theory but not likely to be found on a dealers lot.

        Ex: 1st Gen Pontiac Vibe/Toyota Matrix could be ordered with AWD and manual trans. How many were actually built?

        After the Compass/Cherokee article a few days ago I played around with the “Build Your Own” for the new Compass. I was surprised to see you could build a Compass Sport (lowest trim) in 4×4 with the only option being the cold weather package that included heated seats, heated steering wheel(!), and remote start (but no remote start if you kept the manual). If I wanted a cheap Jeep that’s the way I’d get it (olive green paint and tan interior please).

        I highly doubt a single Compass will be built like that outside of special orders.

        • 0 avatar
          syncro87

          To my surprise, dealers in my area seem to get a steady trickle of Renegades in Sport 4×4 manual guise.

          They aren’t exactly growing on trees, but they aren’t as hard to find as I’d have thought. They are on the lot pretty regularly. This is the config I wanted to test drive, and several were available scattered at dealers around me. Being in Kansas City, it’s not like I’m exactly in offroad enthusiast heaven here, either. If we get them, someone else must be getting them, too.

          This gives me hope that Compasses in similar configuration might not be total unicorns. Maybe the Compass appeals to a totally different demographic than the Ren does, I don’t know. But based on Renegade inventories near me, I’d think a manual 4×4 Compass wouldn’t be that hard to track down.

          If I was buying a Compass, base manual 4×4 would be the one I’d get. I’d have to overcome my fear of FCA quality, though, first.

        • 0 avatar
          gtemnykh

          “Ex: 1st Gen Pontiac Vibe/Toyota Matrix could be ordered with AWD and manual trans. How many were actually built?”

          You sure about that? I’m almost 100% sure that AWD mandated an auto.

          • 0 avatar
            PrincipalDan

            I’m VERY SURE OF THAT.

            I had the brochures to prove that it was available. Did any dealers order one? Not damn likely.

      • 0 avatar
        FormerFF

        There are 4 S and 12 SE sedans with a manual showing up on the dealer locator within 50 miles of where I am (metro Atlanta). So that’s not many but you can certainly find one if you want one.

    • 0 avatar
      FormerFF

      The S trim level is the price leader of the Focus clan, and for quite a while only available as a sedan. The only reason the manual transmission remains in the non high performance Focus lineup is to provide a price leader model. The same is true of many other makes’s compact cars.

    • 0 avatar
      Chris Ransdell

      I have to believe that the remaining 5 speed manual option is paired with the sedan because it gives them the ‘starting’ price for all Focii.

      I have a 2016 Focus SE with 2.0L and 5 speed and it has been a reliable thrifty and fun car. Mine has sunroof, Sync 3 with Sony sound, leather, the sport kit. Really has almost everything I would want other than the cold weather kit which was theoretically available but I never found a manual SE hatch with it. Even living in PA I found only 2 SE hatch 5 speeds in PA/NY/NJ area and bought one of them! There might have been a few more but the find a vehicle that matches thing on Ford’s website was very imprecise and required lots of random trying to cover a large geographic area.

  • avatar
    OldManPants

    Good riddance. We shiftless people who drive low cost appliances don’t need it.

  • avatar
    tomLU86

    Well, GM is offering the Chevy Cruze diesel WITH a manual trans!

    Not the hatchback, but still…good for GM! The previous Cruze diesel was auto only.

    This will give GM some (justifiable) bragging rights.

  • avatar
    Kendahl

    This is most disappointing. We better take good care of our 2013 5-speed SE hatch. I don’t know what I would buy to replace it.

    The 2013 Mazda3 was second choice but lost out to the Focus on refinement. I expected the next generation, which arrived in 2014, to close the gap. However, I have read that it still suffers from high noise levels.

    We test drove a 5-speed Fiesta SE but weren’t satisfied with its performance. Second gear sounded like second gear but accelerated like third. The ST version didn’t exist yet.

    The Focus ST was never a candidate. Aside from its higher price, I think that much power needs all wheel drive.

  • avatar
    tjh8402

    This is definitely really horrible news. I very nearly bought a Focus hatch with a manual. When they first came out, had they offered a manual with the Titanium, I would’ve bought one, and emailed Ford to tell them so. I ended up shopping elsewhere. The only solace is that hopefully this helps Mazda and Honda sell more. Shame on you Ford.

    • 0 avatar
      syncro87

      I gave one serious consideration at one point, but the skimpy rear seat is what got it crossed off the short list. The availability of the manual is what got it added to the list in the first place.

      • 0 avatar
        tjh8402

        I’m a childless guy who now drives a Fiat 500 Abarth. I could care less about rear seat room. I could count on one hand the number of times in a year I put someone in the back seat. It’s never me back there anyway. If they don’t want to ride back there, they can drive LOL. I really liked the Focus, and I could’ve used the extra cargo room over the Fiat (I view rear seats as additional cargo space).

        • 0 avatar
          Paragon

          Don’t you think that if more people took the time to look at and drive a Fiat 500 Abarth that there would be many more on the street? It may be a small car but is definitely a lot of fun. With a manual transmission, of course.

          • 0 avatar
            JimZ

            NO! the vast majority of car owners don’t drive for fun. The market is overwhelmingly choosing CUVs, a (relatively) tiny car might as well not exist.

          • 0 avatar
            tjh8402

            I don’t know that there would be many more but it probably would sell better. I’ve had a lot of people drive my car and walk away surprisingly impressed, including some that wanted to hate it. That being said, I think Fiat’s reputation and the impracticality of the two door body style would be major road blocks.

        • 0 avatar
          Drzhivago138

          Don’t you mean you _couldn’t_ care less?

  • avatar
    RS

    Evidently the “Internet Comment Option” (manual transmission) isn’t moving out of dealerships in sufficient numbers. They probably rot on used lots when they get them too.

    Given the teething issues with their dual clutch auto, it’s interesting they didn’t go CVT with the Focus/Fiesta by now. They’d probably get a couple more MPG too.

  • avatar
    cdnsfan27

    I love my 2014 Focus Hatch SE, stick with the sports package. It is a hoot to drive and still gets 30MPG in mixed driving. I guess I will hang on to it.

  • avatar

    I’d have aa hard time putting something so ugly in my driveway. So no loss to me. Maybe it will spur demand for Civics with sticks. But it’s still a shame to see this happen.

  • avatar
    andyinatl

    So sounds like poor saps that buy these piles are ok with possibly the worst dual clutch transmission ever put in the production car… Every review panned this transmission for that “slipping” feeling in rush hour traffic. My coworker bought one new, and in a little over 120K miles, his dealer replaced 3 transmissions; all died harsh death in the middle of the traffic.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    So just one transmission on regular Foci, and it’s an undriveable one.

    Want a Focus? Buy a C-Max.

    • 0 avatar
      Adam Tonge

      Well, you can get the SE sedan with the 1.0T or a Focus S with the 5-speed. In reality, no one wants those things and they shouldn’t exist.

      C-Max is the right answer.

  • avatar
    Paragon

    Without carefully reading what was posted, my initial reaction was that it would be horrible for Ford to cancel the manual in the Focus. Then I realized it only applies to the hatchback model. I think the lone hatch I owned in the past was a 1986 Shelby Charger, which was a blast; just a lot of fun. A great, great car. So I thought, well as long as it’s still available on the sedan, it’s not that big of a deal ’cause I don’t anticipate buying a hatch in the future. But then the realization hit me. First they did away with the manual in a hatchback, and I said nothing as the hatch doesn’t appeal to me as much as the sedan. But, the next thing likely to disappear is the manual in a sedan, because a majority of people seem to like tall vehicles, and too many options in a slower selling sedan will be the death-knell of the the manual.

    Let it be known that for some time I have vocally supported Car & Driver’s “Save the Manuals” campaign. All together let’s chant: save the manuals! Save the manuals! Save the manuals! And, are we going to have to do large-scale protests around the country in order for our voices to be heard? Maybe we just need to protest in the Motor City. But, the thing is, cars are made so many other places now. So what are we going to do?

    P.S. I am in the process of purchasing a manual transmission car at present. A 2016 Dodge Dart. Have driven a few manual Darts already and very much like them. Seems there won’t be any more since production has ended, so I’m getting one of the last ones.

    • 0 avatar
      FormerFF

      Buy a new manual transmission car every three years, and convince about 100,000 other people to do the same.

      • 0 avatar
        Lorenzo

        Don’t we brown diesel manual wagon drivers all buy used? That might have something to do with dwindling choices.

        Maybe we should talk up the benefits of manuals – they’re so “exclusive” that most car thieves can’t drive them away! That pitch has to be worth a few sales.

    • 0 avatar
      rpn453

      If there isn’t enough demand for manuals to make an economic case to produce them, it only makes sense that they be discontinued. This is the choice of consumers, not the manufacturers.

      I hope there are always some new options for us Luddites. If not, I can only ask that those in Southern climates take good care of their manual transmission vehicles and keep them out of the sun so I can import them as needed!

  • avatar
    Eyeflyistheeye

    At the Ford dealer I work with for my Transits, they have two brand-new 2015 Titanium 5MT hatches stinking up the lot as of February 2017 with one of them being discounted to $18k from an MSRP of $27k. I made them a semi-reasonable lowball offer, and they countered with saying they could work some magic on my trade-in. The look of anger and disappointment on their faces when I brought my prospective trade around, a 2014 Focus SE 5MT hatch, was classic. I mean, who else would be interested in that thing?

    Personally, I’m not concerned about this at all. The MK4 Focus will debut this year, and the 2017 is a lame duck model. Everyone who wanted a Focus 5MT that wasn’t a base model got theirs already, and the Focus is now a seven-year old design which means that the budget enthusiasts the 5MT SE and Titanium were designed for wouldn’t be interested and instead searching out newer designs like the Civic and Cruze hatches. A 1.5 turbo Dragon (replacement for Sigma) with 6MT MK4 Focus would be awesome.

  • avatar
    la834

    I noticed the absense of a non-sporty Focus manual weeks ago. Fortunatey, just about every other standard-grade C-segment hatchback remains available with a stick, including the Cruze (gas or diesel), Civic, Corolla iM, Golf, Elantra GT, Impreza, (Mazda) 3, and Forte5. Only the last requires the moderately sporty SX trim.

    As far as losing build combinations, few cars have been hit with a hatchet this year as much as the Golf. Bye-bye mid and upper level Golf TSi, and the GTI models which had about 5 options for each of three trim levels now only have one each (the DSG), plus all the 3-doors have been discontinued. The new Wolfsburg Edition hatch and the new AWD wagons don’t make up for the losses.

    • 0 avatar
      Dr. Claw

      Whoa… what? No 3-door GTIs? That sucks. And you can only get a GTI with a DSG? That… is wackness unforeseen from Volkswagen. (that’s more disheartening to me than Dieselgate)

  • avatar
    Dr. Claw

    That’s kind of wack, but MURRICA drivers.

    also, because Ford’s DCT is reportedly crap, this is also wack.

    I know the industry is trending away from manual transmissions, but where they’re still offered, you have to get the car in “poverty spec” to match just about.

    There’s always the ST.

  • avatar
    ronrizzi

    Just noticed your post. Adam I agree with you. I have driven a 2016 2.0 Focus SE Hatch with a 5 Speed manual transmission for the past 18 months and the car is a joy to drive. Reminds me of the 2000 cc 1971 Ford Capri aka Mercury that I put over 100k miles on in college. This car is simply a joy to drive and being 64 I’m always surprised by the security guards of gated 55+ communities. They say… wow… haven’t seen a 5-speed in ages… or maybe they really mean an older gent still coordinated enough to use a clutch!


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