What’s new outside?
Those familiar with the pre-facelift model will notice that the Focus now features Ford’s corporate grille up front as well as redesigned headlamps and lashings of chrome, while at the rear the taillights have been made slimmer and the tailgate reworked for a design, which in my opinion, looks far better than the previous model.
The interior has also been updated and, the centre console, which was adorned with more buttons than a Boeing is gone and in its place a more simplistic fascia with more logically-placed buttons and more user friendly controls.
New engine line-up
The Focus range is now only available with EcoBoost engines, which have replaced the old naturally aspirated units and ushered in what is certain to be a more competitive engine range.
The entry level model gains the acclaimed 1.0-litre three-cylinder EcoBoost engine with 92kW/170Nm and fuel returns of 5.0 litres/100km. This model is only available as a six-speed manual for now however, I’m told that an automatic version isn’t far away.
The second engine is the 1.5-litre 132kW/240Nm EcoBoost, which is available with either a six-speed manual or a six-speed torque converter automatic and can get the car from 0-100km/h in 8.7 seconds (9.0 seconds for the auto). Ford assures me that a diesel variant will also be added to the range shortly.
Having sampled both engines with manual transmissions at launch I have to say that the 1.0-litreprovides all that you need from a Focus but that 1.5-litre does add some pep to the Focus step for the more enthusiastic driver.
Better to drive?
Well, yes, the front suspension has been made stiffer, the suspension geometry revised and the shock absorbers reworked, while the electric power steering has also been revised to provide more feel.
The Focus is a great car to drive and while its handling is more than acceptable I feel that buyers in the entry level C segment would care more about the improvements that have been made to the refinement, quietness and ride, than they would about more dynamic handling.
Model range and specification
I was pleasantly surprised at the pricing for the new car; it is seriously aggressive and undercuts major rivals by quite a big margin. The costs have been kept down as the vehicles are now built in Germany versus the previous model from Thailand, which means less of an import duty.
For a little over R200 000 you can buy a Focus sedan or hatch in the Ambiente specification, which give you steel wheels (R6 000-odd for alloys), Ford’s Sync infotainment system with Bluetooth, two USB ports, AUX port and voice activation, the MyKey system, where you can set vehicle parameters based on who’s driving the car, six-speaker sound, 12V charging point, steering-mounted controls, four air bags, ABS brakes (with EBD and EBA), air conditioning, hill start assist and an ESP traction control system.
The Trend specification adds features such as cruise control, an additional 12V point with adjustable centre console, a TFT infotainment screen for improved clarity, six air bags and 16-inch alloy wheels. There’s also an option pack with Cross Traffic Alert, front parking sensors, rear-view camera with rear parking sensors, lane departure warning with lane keeping, Active City Stop and Active Park Assist, with a park slot measurement system that includes perpendicular and parallel parking.