"Car Talk" with Jonathan Pitman
Who said anything about Ford giving up in the design of vehicles department? The new 2008 Focus exemplifies Ford’s latest achievement with looks that are bound to appeal to consumers. My first impression was “Wow, what a car?” It almost appears to have borrowed some of the old styling that was revealed in the first generation Focus, which had those big hard to not notice headlights. The new headlights, however, are much better, with bold styling supporting Ford’s trademark front chrome grill, also offered on the Ford Taurus, Taurus X,(formally Freestyle), Edge and Fusion.
One surprising thing is that Ford is offering the Focus in a 2 door version. Remember the days when the Ford Escort came in 2 door and 4 door? Well the two door model is back, only the name appearing on the badge is Focus. However, the consequence is the ZX3 and ZX5 models have been discontinued. Focus consumers won’t miss the name of this car as it drives down the street. The lettering on the trunk lid, centered in the middle is big. Another really cool feature is ambient lighting, which appears on the floor when the headlights are illuminated. And don’t worry about having to choose from the array of light colors. You get them all: blue, red, yellow green, purple, aqua, and white. Choose one color for April and another for May.
With the Focus, you have your fair share of options and special packages. The Focus models come in S, SE, SES. If you want more features, Focus offers a choice of two packages, the deluxe and Drivers Group. The deluxe package is only offered on the SE model. If you opt for the deluxe package you will get options that are mostly added to the exterior of the vehicle, such as chrome-capped, heated side view mirrors, door handles 16 inch 6 spoke Euroflange aluminum alloy wheels fog lights, rear stabilizer bar metallic instrument panel, chrome exhaust tips, and more. In addition to the deluxe package, there is also the stripping kit that adds an additional flare making the vehicle sportier with the Focus hood stripe and door graphics. If you want options like a leather wrapped steering wheel, cruise control and volume controls knobs on the steering wheel, The Drivers Group Package comes as standard equipment on the SES and as an option on the SE.
The car I test drove was the SE model, with the deluxe package. I must say this car is appealing in style, especially when you add the fog lights and chrome accents. Ford paid attention to every detail when designing this car. It even has SYNC, as an option, powered by Microsoft that allows the consumer to activate hands-free Bluetooth technology or MP3 player’s using only the voice. Sirius Satellite radio is also available on all Focus models, and offers hundreds of choices in music that will keep consumers in a good mood as they listen to there favorite tunes. If you don’t want all of the fancy radio options, you can still have basic options. Try the standard four speaker audio system that has a single CD player with a built in jack if you wanted to use your MP3 Player or I-pod on long road trips. If you want more, try the Audiophile sound system with a 6-Disc CD changer and 8 inch subwoofer.
Another good aspect of this car is its interior. The cabin is quiet, especially when driving at highway speeds where you would normally encounter common noise producers, such as road noise from the tires and wind noise. Inside the cabin are very rich silver paneling and chrome vents that are appealing. The cloth seats were very comfortable, but leather seating is an option on the SE, as a part of the drivers group package but standard on the SES. A power moonroof is also an available on some models as an option.
In the performance department, this car accelerates with ease. It goes from 0-60 in just under 9 seconds. Even at high revs the car exceeded my expectations in the smooth department. Most Focus’ come standard with the 2.0 Liter Duretec I-4 Engine that boosts 140 horsepower and excellent fuel economy with 35 estimated miles per gallon. The Focus is also a vehicle that has ultra low emissions, which means that this car is environmentally friendly. The braking was also impressive. The handling was good, and the steering was responsive. The deluxe package on the SE model adds what I would call the smooth ride package and an incentive with European inspired suspension, which makes bumpy roads feel less bumpy. Other suspension components include the control blade trailing arms and rear stabilizer bars standard on SES and optional on the SE deluxe package.
Safety features on the Focus include traction control and 4 wheel-ABS brakes. In addition to these safety features, the vehicle comes equipped with 6 standard airbags, which the previous generation Focus only offered as an option. An on-board tire pressure monitoring system is standard on all models, giving drivers peace of mind by alerting them when there is a potential problem with the air pressure in tires. Other features include keyless entry and anti theft perimeter alarm.
Dan Leadingham, a sales consultant at Terry’s Ford Lincoln Mercury in Peotone, offered his own opinions that were in agreement with mine regarding the Focus.” I think the overall look of the vehicle, front styling, and side of the vehicle, the chrome Appliqué, the rear of the vehicle and the whole car look, has been redone for the better.”
All photos courtesy Ford.com