Ford Focus Whiffs of Europe
By Casey Williams
Ford’s latest Focus is like the trip my partner and I took through Europe last year. We caught a whiff of the place, sniffed the interiors of old buildings, drooled at the architecture, luxuriated in fine parlors, rode in a gondola, and then jetted ourselves home. We felt like we were in Europe, but somehow did not fully experience it and only have a few trinkets and memories to show for the trip. You get the same feelings with the 2009 Ford Focus, but the ride is much better.
One could be forgiven for thinking they had been to Europe after driving the Focus. The first one was almost identical to versions sold in the Old World. It not only had a funky, new-edge Euro look, it drove the way a fine European compact should. The total experience was enough to usurp the VW Golf as Europe’s best-selling car. That’s a pretty tough tour to top.
Apparently the original three- and five-door hatchbacks were too cool for Americans, so we’ll be driving four-door sedans and two-door coupes. With their chrome bar grilles, 16” alloy wheels, chiseled bodysides, dogleg rear windowline, faux air outlets on the front fenders, and wrap-around taillamps, they look more BMW than Kia, but definitely do not cause as much excitement as when the first-generation paraded onto the boulevard. It’s not the purest of architecture, but looks good nonetheless.
Going for the ultimate parlor affect, the interior glows like the ROXY at night with ethereal blue lighting that glows a haze on the dash and floor. That will hit the right spot for Millennials, but older queens will luxuriate in an interior fit for budget-minded royalty. Heated black leather seats and steering wheel with gray stitching are more Lincoln than Ford. A new dash top readout displays key information while the silver-painted dashboard and large radio buttons look like they came from a teenager’s boom box.
To rock like it’s 2010, choose Sync, co-developed by Microsoft and Ford. By the magic of Bluetooth, microphones, and a button on the steering wheel, you can make phone calls, access music, and conjure up directions. A USB port and audio jack let iPODs plug, play, and succumb to the car’s controls. A single CD slot bats for the old school.
When it’s time to blow for home, light the engine and stomp the 140-horsepower four-cylinder engine. For best results, choose the five-speed manual, but if your lazy self doesn’t want to raise a heel to shift, go for the four-speed automatic. The tight Euro feel of the original Focus was replaced by a comfortable, almost floaty ride – probably much better for the New World. Much appreciated these days are fuel economy ratings of 24/35-MPG city/highway.
After driving the 2009 Focus, I still have fond memories of the original’s pure Euro ride, but realize memories are better than reality.
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