This week’s COTW might not seem like one of my usual enthusiast-focused choices. I guess it’s not really, but auto enthusiasts, like sports enthusiasts, come in several varieties. Some like the raw appeal — the crack of the bat, the crunch of pads and helmets hitting each other; the roar of the engine, the feel of being pressed in to the seat. Others get more enjoyment from the statistics — following ERA, batting averages or QB ratings; tracking miles per gallon, getting the maximum mileage out of a set of tires or brakes.
This week’s car, I think, appeals more to the latter, although there is more to it than just bland numbers.
This week we will be looking at:
2012 Ford Focus
Ford was the only one of the “Big 3” auto makers (Ford, GM, Chrysler) that did not take any government money in 2008. They could afford to do this because the company had already come to grips with its economic reality and begun to implement a plan to preempt the situations that mired the other two. Although parts of the strategy have been difficult (selling Volvo, Jaguar, Land Rover and Aston Martin) and/or unpopular (killing off the historic Mercury name), the results are undeniable. By cutting its losses, reducing redundancy in its model lines and refocusing on building affordable, quality cars, Ford has made significant gains in the American market and taken chunks out of the market shares of GM, Toyota and Honda.
The new Focus is, to this point, the best example of that new philosophy. It is a car that has broad appeal and something to offer just about everyone: a super-efficient engine and aerodynamic enhancements that result in impressive fuel mileage; styling that is attractive without being divisive; enough gadgets and tech goodies to run the space shuttle; plenty of room.
The Focus has proven that Ford is once again capable of building more than muscle cars and trucks.
Henry would be proud.
About the Car
Like many small cars, the Focus debuted in Europe first (in 1998) before coming to the U.S. as a replacement for the Escort in 1999 as a 2000 model. The line was initially comprised of a sedan, a wagon and a 3-door “ZX3” hatchback. Over time the wagon would be phased out in favor of a 5-door “ZX5” hatchback. Competitive pricing assured that the new model was a sales success (Ford sold over a quarter million Focuses in 2000 and again in 2001). Those numbers remained strong, but began to decline after the first few years. Mild restyles for 2005 and 2008 did nothing to halt the slow decrease in sales numbers.
For 2012, however, the Focus has been completely rethought. Along with a brand new chassis and new sheetmetal, the Focus gets a 2.0-liter direct injected four-cylinder engine that makes 160 horsepower and 146 lb-ft of torque. The combination of slippery body work and efficient combustion is enough to net the car as much as 40 miles per gallon, Ford claims.
The car is also larger and more spacious than the one it replaces and features a significant array of tech goodies that include a self-parking system, advanced voice control and Ford’s popular MyFord Touch system.
Prices start at well under $20,000 and top out at just about $24,000, which is very competitive when compared to the Civic, Corolla and Chevy Cruze. I have already seen quite a few on the road and I expect to see a good deal more in the near future.
Some photos in this article were freely sourced from Google. If you take issue with usage of any image, please contact me and I will remove it.