Ford Focus 2012 Review

The all-new 2012 Ford Focus has been unveiled at a media event in Melbourne last week and Car and SUV was there to put the third edition of this popular hatch through its paces.

The Mk 3 Focus will arrive in NZ with two body styles, a five-door hatchback and a sleek four-door sedan. Expect a wagon version to arrive in March next year.

There’s a lot to like with the new Focus, the practical cabin and sharp driving dynamics remain, but it now offers a higher level of features and also ultra modern styling. It’s a powerful example of the ‘One Ford’ approach that will see the Focus sold in 122 markets globally. The Focus’ C-Platform will also underpin at least ten vehicles in the future and account for two million units of production by 2012. The numbers getting thrown around are big, but Ford are justified in having confidence in the new 2012 Focus.

Both body shapes have a sporty and dynamic design with the sedan being surprisingly attractive. Often sedans based off a hatchback look unbalanced but the Focus sedan is sleek and has the look of a vehicle all its own. Both variants feature Fords ‘Kinetic Design’ language that has proved popular on the smaller Fiesta. This consists of a dramatic front end, a high belt line and a pouncing stance. Design highlights on the hatch include a massive lower air dam in the Focus’ front bumper, a steeply raked back windscreen and a hatch spoiler that leads into a unique Z-shaped rear pillar. The sedan is more sedate but has broad shoulders, wrap around tailights and genuine road presence. We’d still go for the hatch, but the sedan has definitely closed the gap in terms of pure aesthetic appeal. Wheel options will range from 16-inch steel rims to 18-inch alloys depending on specification.

The Focus will be offered in four trim levels: base model Ambiente, Trend, Sport and top-spec Titanium. All trim levels feature kit like halogen headlights, Bluetooth connectivity, Hill launch assist, and front, side, curtain airbags. The mid spec Trend and Sport models add gear like cruise control, electric steeering, alloy wheels, chrome trim, dual zone climate control, sports seats and a leather steering wheel. For those who go for the top-spec Titanium Focus they will receive some features that have been rarely seen in this segment before like Active Park Assist, Adaptive Cruise Control, cornering lamps and daytime LED lights, keyless entry and electric front seats. That’s a high level of specification and pushes the Focus Titanium into the realms of a true luxury hatch.

The interior on the 2012 Focus in driver orientated and gives a cockpit feel. Access to dashboard controls is very good and there’s a multitude of toggle switches and buttons on the steering wheel as well. Two main control screens display information one located between the bright instrumentation and another above the main control stack. Functionality is generally excellent, the available menus offer various controls and settings, but remain easy to navigate. That said, the Focus cabin is a very busy design of buttons and dials, it’s an advanced layout and will take a while to master. Cabin space is very good, particularly at the front where there’s comfortable full size chairs, back seat passengers do well too. Materials quality is of a high standard, there’s enough soft touch plastics to give a premium feel and all moving parts seem robust.

There are three engine options for the NZ specification 2012 Ford Focus:

  • 1.6-litre Ti-VCT Petrol – 92kW power – 159Nm torque – 6.6l/100km economy
  • 2.0-litre GDi Ti-VCT Petrol – 125kW power – 202Nm torque – 6.7l/100km economy
  • 2.0-litre TDCi Diesel – 120kW power – 340nm torque – 5.5l/100km economy

For the NZ market all engines are mated to Ford’s powershift DSG six-speed automatic transmission. The 1.6 litre engine is only available in the base-model Ambiente Focus, while the diesel unit is available in Trend trim and the 2.0-litre petrol can be had in Trend, Sport or top-dog Titanium guise. There was opportunity to drive all three engines at the launch with all of them doing an admirable job. The 1.6-litre motor needed to be pushed much harder to perform but the 2.0-litre petrol hustled the Focus along in a lively manner. The diesel mill proved itself to be a solid all rounder with plenty of torque for mid-range punch and was also very mellow during cruising. The Powershift dual-clutch transmission is well engineered with smooth shifts and well spaced ratios, the only drawback is the manual option which is a button on the side of gearstick. Its an interesting idea but can be a touch fiddly, a more orthodox sequential shift action would better suit many drivers.

Dynamic ability has always been a strength of the Focus and that virtue remains intact. There is plenty of grip at the front wheels and both body shapes sit flat during cornering. A new torque vectoring control system furthers handling ability and balances the torque distribution between the front driving wheels. This technology combined with the electric steering makes for safe and stable dynamics but also a more engaging steer when desired. The new Focus feels more supple in its ride than the previous model with a leaning towards comfort but with the new chassis it is just as competent on twisted roads.

Safety features in the 2012 Focus are led by an all-new bodyshell that makes use of more high-strength steels than any other Ford. There are front, side and curtain airbags and seatbelt pretensioners at the front. Active safety systems like ABS brakes, Stability and Traction control are also on board.

More than 10 million models of Focus have been sold since its launch back in 1998 and that looks set to continue into 2012. The new Focus is a significant leap forward for the nameplate with high-tech features a bold and ultra-modern design inside and out, and powertrains that are strong with very good economy. The dynamic ability and practicality that the Focus first built its reputation on remains a feature but there is a whole load more to this latest version. It also makes a promising base for upcoming hot hatch versions like the ST (XR5) and RS.

The first deliveries of the 2012 Focus will arrive in NZ during November. Pricing will be announced shortly, check back for more details.

To find out more, click here to visit the Ford NZ website.

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