Ford Focus Sport 2011 Review

I had a quick ride in an ancient Focus while I was testing the new Ford Focus Sport just to get my bearings on exactly what has improved. You tend to forget the pace of change in cars, and something that was perfectly fine 10 years ago now seems like it’s barely better than a carriage pulled by a flatulent horse.

That’s not saying that the vintage Focus should have been sent to the glue factory, but it just felt low budget. Enter the new Focus Sport, champing at the bit to prove it’s a cabello blanco and able to dance on its hind quarters.

The Focus Sport packs a 2-litre 125kW petrol engine that produces 202Nm of torque. It’s no racehorse, but there’s plenty to get it galloping along. You get 17-inch alloys which are shod in 215/50R17 tyres. There’s a space saver in the boot. Interestingly, the front brake discs on the Sport are smaller than on the Trend 2-litre diesel hatch, though this could be because of the diesel’s 1500kg towing capacity as opposed to the petrol’s 500kg.

The Sport, like the Titanium model above it, comes with a rear sports spoiler, automatic headlights and LED taillights. Only the Titanium gets LED headlights. But would you want to shell out another five grand for the Titanium when the Sport is already 45 grand?

Your first impression when you get on the open road will be that you can have a lot of fun in the Focus Sport. It’s keen on the turn-in, performance isn’t bad for a two-litre, and the brakes do their job well. When it’s bumpy, like so many of NZ’s roads are, the suspension soaks it up while remaining capable enough to handle tight turns. This is because there’s a rear stabilizer bar as well as fully-independent control blade rear suspension. There’s fancy trickery that diverts torque to the best wheel. A six-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox that is arguably as smooth (if not smoother) than VW’s DSG box keeps the car in the right rev range, and the addition of a sport mode keeps it in-gear for longer and changes down earlier. If you want more control, there’s an up/down button the side of the gear knob that acts like a sequential manual.

In fact, it’s such as good drive that there are only two things I can fault with the Focus Sport. The central console layout on the dashboard looks like an explosion of cheap buttons that would be found on a 15-year-old’s stereo. But perhaps more importantly it’s that this car is a tad on the pricey side against its competitors when you look at the kit available. OK, you get an MP3 player auxiliary input, voice control for the stereo and phone integration, trip computer, parking sensors, dual climate control, etc, but it’s missing some items that you would probably expect for $45k, like keyless entry, heated seats, electronic handbrake, automatic wipers, leather, etc. $45k puts it into premium hot hatch territory (think Alfa Romeo Giulietta, which is only a grand more), and Ford’s brand doesn’t quite have the cachet of some of the other players at this price level.

My opinion is that there are no truly bad cars on the market these days, it’s just that some are a bit expensive and some are just average. 20 years ago there were all kinds of abominations gracing dealers’ lots – think of early Hyundai and Suzuki models, some old Subarus and Holdens, the Honda City, and the Austin Allegro. Now, almost every car will gently caress you as you hit a power pole, lavish butterfly kisses on the environment, and not require you to pay anywhere near as much attention as you used to because of a plethora of driver aids and safety features.

There’s a level of kit that just keeps creeping upwards, so we expect more and more. However, the money in the Focus Sport has been spent on getting the right feel; something to make it feel a notch above the competition. It is a driver’s car for those that don’t want the inherent discomfort of a driver’s car. Many cars that push the sports angle have harsh suspension, or they’re too loud, or they’re impractical, or something else is wrong with them. There’s nothing wrong with how the Focus Sport performs. It takes on corners with nary a lean, but isn’t harsh and bumpy; it accelerates gently and smoothly with its fantastic gearbox around town, but push the pedal to the floor and you get the noise and an adequate level of power to see you passing slower vehicles in relative safety; cruise the motorway with the speed limiter or cruise control on (for safety), and you can listen to quiet passages in Brahms without having to turn the volume up too much.

In my experience, horses never do what you want them to, so this Focus is not like a carriage pulled by a flatulent horse at all. It’s like a car, and a pretty good one, too.

You’ll buy it because:

  • You want a bit more performance out of your hatchback, but the XR5 Turbo frightens you
  • You want a solid all-rounder that’s unlikely to have enormous depreciation
  • You’re a diehard Ford man or woman, and you need something practical for around town that also has some sensible luggage space.

Pros:

  • Great driving feel
  • Audio system is good
  • Handles well
  • Sounds the part
  • Sharp styling
  • Up/down gear change buttons on the gearstick are good when you get used to them

Cons:

  • Lacks a few features for the price
  • Handling is sporty, but acceleration lets it down a bit

Price: from  $44,490

Fuel Economy
Sport 2.0L Hatch
Combined fuel economy (L/100km) 1 6.4
Fuel
Sport 2.0L Hatch
Ford Easyfuel® capless refuelling S
Fuel 95 – 98 RON4
Fuel – BioFuel compatibility E10
Fuel tank capacity (L) 55
Emissions Data
Sport 2.0L Hatch
CO2 emissions (g/km) 7 149
Euro Stage V compliant S
Engine
Sport 2.0L Hatch
Duratec 1.6L Twin Independent Variable Camshaft Timing (Ti-VCT) Petrol -
Duratec 2.0L Gasoline Direct Injection (GDi) Petrol S
Duratorq 2.0L Turbo Diesel Common-rail Injection (TDCi) Diesel -
Cylinders 4
Displacement (cc) 1,999
Power – maximum (DIN) 125kW @ 6,600rpm
Torque – maximum (DIN) 202Nm @ 4,450rpm
Brakes
Sport 2.0L Hatch
Front – Ventilated disc S
Rear – Solid disc S
Front (mm) 278 x 25
Rear (mm) 271 x 11
Suspension
Sport 2.0L Hatch
Front – Independent MacPherson struts with offset coil spring over gas filled damper units and lower L-arms with optimised front rubber bushings and rear hydro-bush mounted on separate reinforced cross-member sub-frame, anti roll bar S
Rear- Fully independent multi-link Control Blade with large dampers. Rear damper with dual path body mounts. Anti-roll bar connected to spring links S
Steering
Sport 2.0L Hatch
Torque vectoring control S
Exterior Styling
Sport 2.0L Hatch
Spoiler – Rear -
Spoiler – Rear sports S
Lights
Sport 2.0L Hatch
Centre High Mounted Stop Lamp (CHMSL) S
Daytime LED running lights -
Headlights – Automatic S
Headlights – Bi-Xenon with static cornering lights -
Headlights – Halogen S
Headlights – Follow-me-home S
Fog lights S
Fog light – Rear S
Rear LED tail lights S
Comfort & Convenience
Sport 2.0L Hatch
Dual zone climate control S
Air conditioning – Manual -
Armrest – Centre console S
Armrest – Rear seat flip down with cupholders (2) S
Cruise control – Steering wheel mounted S
Cupholders – Centre console (2) S
Lighting – Ambient (Red LED) S
Lighting – Glove box S
Lighting – Boot S
Lighting – Front & rear halogen S
Lighting – Front & rear LED S
Power – 12V socket in centre console S
Steering column – Adjustable reach & rake S
Sunroof with tilt/slide functionality -
Sun visors – Driver & front passenger (with vanity mirror) -
Sun visors – Driver & front passenger (with illuminated vanity mirror) S
Windows – Power front & rear S
Interior Styling
Sport 2.0L Hatch
Gear shift – Leather S
Scuff plates – Alloy front S
Steering wheel – Leather S
Audio, Communications & Instruments
Sport 2.0L Hatch
Audio – 3.5mm auxiliary input S
Audio – CD player & 6 speakers -
Audio – Premium Sony system with 9 speakers S
Audio – Steering wheel mounted controls S
Audio – USB auxiliary input S
Bluetooth® mobile phone integration with voice control 8 S
Ford Power Start button -
Satellite navigation system S
Trip computer S
Safety
Sport 2.0L Hatch
Active Park Assist – Semi-automated parking function -
Adaptive cruise control -
Adjustable Speed Limiting Device (ASLD) with cruise control S
Airbags – Driver & front passenger S
Airbags – Side curtain front & rear S
Airbags – Side thorax front S
Brakes – Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) S
Brakes – Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD) S
Brakes – Emergency (hazard warning) brake lights S
Brakes – Emergency Brake Assist (EBA) S
Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) S
Hill launch assist S
Pedals – Safety (decoupling) S
Safety rating – Euro NCAP 5 Star
Seatbelts – Beltminder™ system (Driver & front passenger) S
Seatbelts – Pre-tensioners front S
Seats – ISOFIX child seat attachments 9 S
Sensors – Rear parking sensors S
Sensors – Front parking sensors -
Steering column – Collapsible horizontal S
Exterior Dimensions (mm)
Sport 2.0L Hatch
Height – Overall 1,484
Kerb Weight (kg) 1,337
Length – Overall 4,358
Track – Front (min-max depending on wheel offset) 1,544 – 1,559
Track – Rear (min-max depending on wheel offset) 1,534 – 1,549
Wheelbase 2,648
Width – Overall with mirrors 2,010
Width – Overall without mirrors 1,823
Interior Dimensions (mm)
Sport 2.0L Hatch
Front – Head room 993
Front – Leg room 1,094
Front – Shoulder room 1,411
Rear – Head room 962
Rear – Leg room (nominal 95% driver position) 849
Rear – Shoulder room 1,336
Luggage Capacity (L)
Sport 2.0L Hatch
With mini spare tyre – Seats upright 316
With mini spare tyre – Seats folded 1,101
With full size spare tyre (16″) – Seats upright -
With full size spare tyre (16″) – Seats folded -
Seats & Seatbelts
Sport 2.0L Hatch
Front seats – Heated -
Head restraints – Height adjustable front & rear 10 S
Lumbar adjust – Manual driver S
Rear seats – 60:40 split S
Seat adjust – Manual 2-way passenger S
Seat adjust – Manual 4-way driver S
Seat adjust – Power 4-way driver -
Trim – Cloth S
Trim – Partial leather -
Security
Sport 2.0L Hatch
Immobiliser – Passive Anti-theft System (PATS) S
Locking – Childproof rear door locks S
Locking – Remote power central S
Smart key – Keyless entry & start -
Towing Capacity – Maximum (kg)
Sport 2.0L Hatch
Braked 11 500
Unbraked 12 500
Visibility
Sport 2.0L Hatch
Mirrors – Auto-dimming rear view mirror S
Mirrors – Power adjustable with side indicators -
Mirrors – Power adjustable, auto folding, heated with side indicators S
Wipers – Fixed intermittent rear S
Wipers – Rain sensing S
Wipers – Variable intermittent front S
Wheels & Tyres
Sport 2.0L Hatch
Wheel size 17″ x 7″
Wheel type Alloy
Tyre size 215/50 R17
Spare wheel Mini

S – Standard.
- – Not Available.

Words and photos: Darren Cottingham

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