Reviews

2017 Ford Focus Driving Impressions

Like the Mazda 3 and Volkswagen Golf, the Focus handles better than other compact cars. Its electric steering is weighted well (although it doesn’t offer much feel for the road), and its sophisticated suspension is quite firm but doesn’t crash over large bumps; ride comfort is impressive. If crisp steering and agile handling are your main priority, the Focus is a good choice. However the shift quality of Ford’s PowerShift 6-speed dual-clutch automatic manual transmission is a letdown. So you’re left with a 5-speed manual.

The base 2.0-liter engine with 160 horsepower and 146 pound-feet of torque has adequate acceleration, and the 6-speed dual clutch does a good job of keeping the revs up when you need them, but it doesn’t shift smoothly at low speeds.

We haven’t driven the 1.0-liter in the Focus, although we have in the lighter Fiesta. It makes 123 horsepower and an overachieving 148 pound-feet of torque at just 1400 rpm, to provide get-up-and-go from stoplights. It’s mated to either a 6-speed manual or 6-speed automatic transmission.

The S and SE models use drum brakes in the rear, while most rivals have four-wheel discs. The Sport package for the SE brings a touring suspension, 17-inch black gloss aluminum wheels, H-rated tires, and paddleshifters for the PowerShift twin-clutch transmission.

The ST, with its 240-horsepower turbocharged 2.0-liter engine and 6-speed manual gearbox, is whole different animal than the S and SE, and definitely a hoot to drive. It is very well engineered and integrated, with driving dynamics that are arguable smoother than the Mazdaspeed3 or Subaru WRX STI. It uses a quick, variable-ratio steering rack, a suspension lowered by four-tenths of an inch, and rear dampers with widened mounting points.

The Focus RS is highly focused, and relatively expensive. Its 350 horsepower is extreme for a car this size. It’s got all the stuff to back it up, including full-time all-wheel drive with dynamic torque vectoring, a beefy 6-speed gearbox, big brakes, tuned exhaust and suspension modes including Track and Drift. As an everyday driver, the ride is stiff and unyielding, it turns quickly for the street, and the torque steer is a handful to manage when you get on the gas. It’s quite the toy if burning through rubber and getting tickets is your thing, but that is its only fit in the real world of transportation.

Request More Info