The Car — 2012 Ford Focus SE
We've been demanding a proper Focus for years: the European market has always gotten a class-leading car while Canadians have been handed the keys to an also-ran econobox. Ford finally brought the Euro-Focus over this year. Was it worth the wait?
Price – $25,909 incl Freight (5spd Manual SE)
Power – 160 h.p. at 6,500 r.p.m.; 146 foot-pounds of torque at 4,450 r.p.m.
Fuel Economy (city/highway) – 7.8/5.5 litre/100 kilometres
Standard – (SE model) traction control system, anti-lock brakes, power windows, power mirrors, power door locks, air conditioning, intelligent key
Options – Moonroof, SYNC package, heated seats, 17-inch machined alloy wheels, Sport Package
I lost count of the number of double-takes my bright red Focus tester got when parked curb-side. Even more than the striking Scion tC, I'll warrant, and this is supposed to be a regular ol' family hatchback.
But with highly-stylized features and striking machined black wheels, the Focus SE is no wallflower. What's more, that design extends to the interior as well, which boasts high-res screens and European-looking centre-console layout. The bucket seats wouldn't look out of place on a 3-series BMW.
Most Focuses (Focii?) are going to be sold as automatics, but I've been lucky enough to snag one with a five-speed manual: time for some motoring con brio. Slotting it into first, the Focus whirrs away without fuss.
The 2.0-litre gasoline direct engine in this car is an absolute peach. It's not as punchy as the bigger mill you might get in a Mazda3 GT, but it loves to rev and while the torque doesn't match the horsepower, there's still plenty of power down low.
Really though, the star of the show is the handling, which is surprisingly good. The Focus loves to carve up the corners, and while it's incredibly smooth and efficient when you get it out on the highway straights, you always get the feeling it's happiest in the curves.
What's more, the sheer amount of technology in this car is mind-boggling. Admittedly, lots of boxes have been ticked on my tester’s option list, but features like the speed-limiting smart key (certain to be a hit with parents) can't be got on cars costing thrice as much.
This is an excellent little car, and for Ford fans, nearly a no-brainer. It's peppy and incredibly efficient, has plenty of curb appeal, and can be crammed to the gills with high-tech.
It shouldn't be surprising, really. The Focus is constantly on the leaderboard any time you pick up a UK magazine with a comparison test of compacts in it. Driving the redesigned 2012 Focus, you can see why.