By on June 21, 2017

2017 Ford Focus SE Hatch

With fresh news showing up yesterday of Ford shifting production of the Focus to China, it seemed an opportune time to revisit the Blue Oval’s offering in the compact segment. Last time around, we *ahem* focused on the sedan version and found it lacking.

Today, we’ll take a look at the five-door hatch which, in base trim, is better equipped with more features.

Right off the bat, the five-door hatch trumps the four-door sedan by opening its bid with an SE trim, rather than the poverty-spec S. A 2.0-liter inline-four is under the hood, making 160 horsepower if you spin it to a lofty 6500 rpm. Annoyingly, the six-speed Powershift automatic is the sole transmission available in this configuration, which usually would’ve been enough to scupper this whole Ace of Base post if it weren’t late at night with a looming deadline.

Putting on my accountant’s cap for a second, the take rate on three-pedal SE hatches was probably dismal anyway. I need to take that accountant’s cap off now; it hurts my head. #SaveTheManuals, at least on small cars.

The rest of the car shows well for a base model. Airbags will protrude from the dash, side, roof, and towards the driver’s knees if the situation goes awry, while Ford’s AdvanceTrac and stability control attempt to keep things shiny side up in the first place. These are mundane considerations for most but critical for the target audience of new or young drivers who sometimes have a propensity for crashing into stationary objects or attempting to occupy the same corner of the space/time continuum as another vehicle. The standard backup camera will help, too.

Satellite radio is included here, something which cannot be said for some of its rivals at this price point. Heck, even some megabucks BMWs and Mercs don’t have SiriusXM as standard equipment. Buttons for cruise control and audio functions take up residence on the steering wheel on this SE, whose column adjusts for reach and rake. A brace of USB ports keep devices charged and rear heat vents keep the squad comfortable. It’s worth noting that the Ford Escort LX Hatch my parents bought in 1989 had none of these features even though, adjusted for inflation, its price was within shouting distance of this 2017 Focus, which stickers at $19,765. Progress is alright.

Styling will always be subjective, but this author does prefer the more angular front end found on Foci prior to the most recent refresh. A wide array of colors are available gratis, save for the tasty Blue Candy and Ruby Red which add $395 to the bottom line. You know my choice is the obnoxious Race Red shown above. A natty rear spoiler juts out over the hatch like a spoilt child’s bottom lip.

At a price of nearly twenty grand, the base hatchback Focus certainly makes a better case for itself than its base sedan brother. Head much further up the Focus Hatch food chain and it’s just as well to pop for an ST.

Will buyers be accepting of a small Ford whose VIN starts with ‘L’? We shouldn’t have to wait long for an answer once they start arriving on these shores.

[Image: Ford Motor Company]

Not every base model has aced it. The ones that have? They help make the automotive landscape a lot better. Any others you can think of, B&B? Let us know in the comments. Naturally, feel free to eviscerate our selections.

The model above is shown with American options and is priced in Freedom Dollars absent of destination and incentives (which are not insignificant on a lease for this particular car as of this writing). Naturally, your dealer may sell for less.

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55 Comments on “Ace of 基础 – 2017 Ford Focus SE Hatch...”


  • avatar
    PRNDLOL

    Once the 2017 Civic arrived the Focus just doesn’t cut it. See them next to each other and the Civic is significantly larger while returning roughly the same fuel economy. Actually isn’t a Civic LX hatchback cheaper than this?

    • 0 avatar
      iNeon

      Some people prefer usability to size. We’ve passed the moment in time whenever bigger is better and where it’s more logical to purchase a pair of McDoubles over an apple if the prices are the same.

      Please understand that this is not a point in favor of Ford’s Focus or against Honda’s Civic– because they’re both disgusting creatures. It’s only a comment on your size v. price logic.

      • 0 avatar
        gtemnykh

        “Some people prefer usability to size. ”

        The external size is not too different, I’m not sure how the Focus has any more “usability,” in fact it has less: the rear row in the Focus us legitimately quite cramped for adults to use, to say nothing of a child seat. Conversely, the Civic is much more generous and it can easily work as a family car and/or shuttling adults in the second row.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Correct, but keep in mind the base Civic hatch is a manual, where the Focus is automatic-only. An automatic Civic hatch would be about $1,000 extra.

    • 0 avatar
      MrKiwi

      Yes, but then you have to look at it. Coincidentally I happened to be in the next lane and behind one this morning at a red light, and it is not a flattering angle.

      There’s always something at this end of the spectrum. Yaris IA is fun and cheap but no hatch. Kia is a penalty box. Ford Fiesta looks like a toy jellybean. Sigh…

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        Agreed, the Civic’s styling has always been controversial. I actually think it works beautifully on the coupe, and the sedan doesn’t bother me. But it doesn’t work on the hatch. The good news is that the thing’s gonna drive great, particularly with the 1.5T and a manual.

        If you want a hatch at this price, Golf is by far the best way to go. One of the best cars in the world at any price, if you ask me.

        • 0 avatar
          Dave M.

          We’re starting to sniff around for my daughter’s first car, which will take her through senior year, college and grad school. I’m so attracted to the Golf Wolfsburg edition – a lot of car and safety for right around $20k in today’s market. Very hard to beat if we go with compact hatchback….

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            Do yourself a favor and check out the Jetta while you’re at it. The Golf is brilliant, but the Jetta’s vastly underrated, and you’ll get a helluva deal. The new 1.4T engine and the IRS have worked wonders on how it drives (take it from the guy who bought one a few months back).

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            A discounted Corolla iM? 7 years wouldn’t get you in the danger zone yet with the 1.8TFSI I don’t think, so perhaps a compact VW would not be too risky of a proposition either. Like FreedMike said, the Jettas are a steal, and drive really well.

        • 0 avatar
          ajla

          If I was in this class I’d pretty much be between the Golf and the Mazda3. They are the only two offerings with conventional automatics that aren’t otherwise super boring.

  • avatar

    It’s a nice car but that Powershift tranny is a deal breaker. They should have replaced it with a proper auto trans a long time ago.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Ford largely solved those issues a couple of model years ago, FYI. I tried one out last fall and it worked FAR better than it did in the earlier models.

      • 0 avatar
        AK

        I had a 2015 Focus as a loaner and nothing about the automatic transmission was solved.

        • 0 avatar
          JimZ

          yes, it has been. you probably just don’t care for the way a DCT drives, because the VW DSG and Hyundai DCT I drove feel the same way as the DPS6. the clutch problems have been fixed with the DPS6.

          • 0 avatar
            Adam Tonge

            I owned a GTI with the DSG and a Focus with the DCT at the same time. They did not feel the same. The DSG was MUCH better. It is also much more expensive and requires expensive maintenance. That Hyundai DCT sucks too.

          • 0 avatar
            JimZ

            I’m talking about shift feel, not low-speed behavior. all but one DSG variant is wet clutch, and wet clutches can tolerate a lot more slippage and w/o potential for chattering.

            the big issue with DCT shift feel is on a skip-shift kickdown e.g. 4-2 or 5-3. It’s shifting from one gear to another on the same input shaft so it can’t “blend” and will take an eternity to shift. it’s a little better the more speeds it has since you can optimize your downshift strategies to minimize the occurrence of “same shaft” downshifts.

          • 0 avatar
            Adam Tonge

            I didn’t have an issue with the Ford DCT shift feel once at speed. It was the low speed issues, including shift feel (hesitation, jerky, etc).

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            I drove two GTIs back to back a while ago – one DSG, one stick. The DSG felt quicker (which is backed up by instrumented testing), but it had some of that same “wavery” feel as the Focus’ DSG. I drove the DSG for about half a mile and proclaimed it a “no sale.” #manuals4ever

          • 0 avatar
            Adam Tonge

            Based on my ownership experience, even if the Ford DCT was a weird transmission that I didn’t always like, I would still own it longer than the VW DSG. I loved how that transmission drove, but I had many problems with it in different vehicles.

          • 0 avatar
            JimZ

            supposedly the clutch pack has been redesigned for 2016MY. I think I would be OK with a 2016 or 2017MY car with the DPS6.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            I’m actually formulating an Evil Plan for VW World Domination…oldest daughter gets her full time job and takes over the lease/insurance payments on the Jetta (honestly, not crazy about her doing a full time job in the old Buick, and my youngest daughter will need something to drive before too long).

            And then…Daddy gets his GTI. In Tornado Red. With the plaid seats. And a manual.

            And then he scares the wee out of his girlfriend.

            Me likey.

      • 0 avatar
        slap

        I drove an automatic 2016 Focus in February. Still had problems.

    • 0 avatar
      Higheriq

      Ever hear of a manual transmission?

  • avatar
    JimZ

    yeah, this drove me and my BIL crazy. you used to be able to get a stick with the SE hatch, but now the only (non-performance) Focus you can get a stick in is an S sedan or an SE with the 1.0EB. Add any options to the SE and you automatically get kicked up to the 2.0 and DPS6.

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    “a lofty 6500 rpm”

    Lofty?

    The number of Focus buyers who are aware that Chinese VINs start with “L” can be counted on one hand.

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      yes, but at least in the Detroit area pretty much every mainstream news outlet has already reported the “Focus to be imported from China” story.

      • 0 avatar
        Adam Tonge

        It was indeed BREAKING NEWS in Detroit yesterday.

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          Not surprising. Focuses are currently made in Michigan, aren’t they?

        • 0 avatar
          sgeffe

          That had to be like a bomb going off!

          The shame of it is that we know that the relatively low gas prices we’ve been blessed with aren’t going to stick around forever! Somebody sneezes wrong in the Middle East, the region goes to DEFCON 2 overnight, and $5/gallon gas, here we are! (That’ll be the only way to get folks back into sedans and wagons!)

          • 0 avatar
            JimZ

            well, if it happens again at least they’ll have something decent to sell. the last time, what did the D3 have on offer? The Caliber, Cobalt, and a nasty de-contented griefbox of a Focus.

  • avatar
    RD135i

    王牌 of base

  • avatar
    deanst

    I think this is still one of the better looking cars in the segment, but poor efficiency, poor reliability and little interior space make this car undesirable at any price.

  • avatar
    Menloguy

    I’ve rented the Focus numerous times and found the center console to be too wide and intrusive, the dashboard too high, and the door armrests too narrow. I could never find a comfortable driving position. I am hoping that the next iteration of the Focus has a slimmer center console and a dashboard that does not protrude as much. I am also hoping for a station wagon version of the Focus, but of course I’m not holding my breath.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Ford does make a Focus wagon…not available here, of course.

      • 0 avatar
        sportyaccordy

        I had one (in brown! With diesel! And stickshift!) for a rental in France last fall. It was pretty cool. We took a liking to the much maligned MyFord Touch (which helped drive the decision to get our MKX), and dynamically the more I pushed the more it gave back. Also had no problem cruising at 90-100 MPH in 6th on the highway, all while returning over 40 MPG I think. It was actually quite amazing now that I think about it.

        But in the US with our awful drivers power is king. Only Focus I’d have here is the ST.

        • 0 avatar
          HotPotato

          That Euro Focus wagon gets rave reviews: great looks, great handling, strong engine choices, and the extra room that the cramped hatch version lacks. I don’t see North Americans paying for a premium compact wagon, so it’ll probably remain a vacation rental.

    • 0 avatar
      Adam Tonge

      In America, the station wagon version of the Focus is called the Escape or Transit Connect Wagon.

  • avatar
    RHD

    Those who care where a car is built will avoid the Focus.
    Those who don’t know or care where it is built will buy it.
    I’m guessing the Focus will become the “chick car” that replaces the New Beetle.
    It’s also a matter of you can’t always get what you want, but you get what you need, as long as Ford is willing to go deeply sub-prime with their financing.
    There’s money to be made by catering to the illiterati.

  • avatar
    Kendahl

    We have a 2103 Focus SE hatchback with the 5-speed manual. So far, it’s been a good car for us. I agree that the center console intrudes more than necessary but, overall, the car is more refined than the 2013 Mazda3 hatchback which was our second choice. Had the Focus not been available with a manual transmission, it would never have been a candidate. As it was, we deliberately bought from the only dealer in the area who kept manuals in stock.

  • avatar
    2kriss2kross

    Talk about coincidences, picked a hatch in the exact color and trim as a rental yesterday while my 10th gen Civic is getting repaired for body damage thanks to flying freeway debris. My choices were a Yaris, Versa Note, or a Focus and the Focus seemed less dreadful and somewhat engaging to driving than the other two from what I’ve heard. I made a good choice. Handling is in the top percentile in its class though my Civic tops it. The engine is a bit reluctant to move from a stop and noisier than my Civic but once you get up to speed it’s alright. Could’ve made much worse choices from the typical rental fleet but I still can’t wait to get my Civic back.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    The article regurgatates the Chinese Focus bullsh!t.

    I do believe it does not matter where the vehicle is manufactured. So long as it works and meets your needs.

    My mother is a Focus fan and just bought another new Michigan made Focus earlier this year.

    The reality is the Thai (and EU) built Focus has superior build quality. I would suspect a Chinese built Focus would offer the same better than Michigan made quality.

    As a cheap and cheerful vehicle goes the Focus appears to be acceptable. But why not be able to buy one cheaper and most likely of better quality.

    This will make it a better Ace of Base contender.

    • 0 avatar
      gtemnykh

      “I do believe it does not matter where the vehicle is manufactured. ”

      “The reality is the Thai (and EU) built Focus has superior build quality. I would suspect a Chinese built Focus would offer the same better than Michigan made quality.”

      Huh? How do thsoe two statements not directly contradict each other?

      • 0 avatar
        Big Al from Oz

        It makes sense to me.

        The US Focus is not of the same standard.

        This is why they are better off imported.

        • 0 avatar
          gtemnykh

          You claim it doesn’t matter where a car is built, then turn around and say that certain locales assemble a certain car better than others. How are those not directly contradictory statements?

    • 0 avatar
      HotPotato

      You really think they’re going to pass the savings on to you? Adorable.

  • avatar
    incautious

    Just rented a 2017 SE from Miami to Key west and back. There is indeed a huge difference with this car and previous years transmissions. It drove quite pleasant with the automatic transmission performing flawlessly. Even with the A/C on there was plenty of pep too. For those that have never driven the Overseas Highway. It is a 113-mile mostly two lane road connecting the mainland to the Keys. Although the speed limit can reach 55MPH, most of the locals seem to drive a very leisurely 25MPH. UGH. The few areas where it goes to 4 lanes for passing are far and few, yet this car had plenty of pep for passing grandpa or lolly gaggers sightseeing. This car also has a European feel to its driving dynamics not unlike our late model A5, which I would take any day over most Asian vehicles.

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