2009 Ford Focus LX Hatch Review and Road Test
Ford's Focus still a rewarding drive
- 2009 Ford Focus LX; 2.0-litre, four-cylinder, petrol; five-speed manual; five-door hatch - $24,290
- Metallic paint - Tango; $230 (Fitted)
Words - Paul Maric
The recent couple of years have seen Ford Australia changing production plans more often than Subaru changes designs.
While Ford has dumped plans to produce the Focus locally, it will remain on sale here. so I got behind the wheel of the mid-life upgrade Focus LX.
Sitting first step up from the CL base model, the LX is loaded with features at a reasonably low price in comparison to its European competitors.
Despite Ford’s diesel Focus being popular in the marketplace both in terms of sales and fuel efficiency, the petrol variant of the small car is also proving to be quite popular.
Our test vehicle was fitted with the 2.0-litre, four-cylinder engine mated to a five-speed manual gearbox, with the engine producing 107kW and 185Nm. While the gearbox is clearly missing a sixth gear, it’s leaps and bounds ahead of its four-speed automatic sibling.
Where the four-speed automatic needs to be coaxed into moving the car, the five-speed manual does it in an almost racy fashion.
A light, but accurate clutch and smooth throw gear lever lay the foundations to what I’ll go out on a limb to describe as a class leading drive.
The Focus has European engineering written all over it. The ride over our B-grade country roads and also at speed shows that the car is versatile and has been engineered to cope with a wide variety of conditions.
The responsive steering offers a great deal of feedback, while also being light and forgiving – often front-wheel-drive vehicles of this size tend to get a bit carried away and bite at the wheel under hard acceleration.
Tootling around the city is probably where the Focus will live most of its life. In addition to good visibility out the front and rear, the Focus is easy to place and even easier to park courtesy of larger wing mirrors.
Mid-life updates are normally modest at best and the Focus doesn’t buck from that trend. Revised headlights and several other design elements such as the front end and wing mirrors have further refined the design and brought it into line with the rest of the global Ford family.
Inside the cabin, changes have been sparse – that’s not a bad thing though. Use of interior room is clever with a decent sized glove box and areas to hold odds and ends.
The misaligned button blanks at the bottom of the centre stack weren’t very pretty though and are a disappointing oversight.
The multimedia controls are very easy to use, thankfully, and clearly marked buttons and a conventional layout make them easy to find and use. The stereo is also quite impressive, and offering plenty of bass, the four-speaker sound system utilises steering wheel mounted controls, although they are hidden from view and take a bit of getting used to.
Rear passenger legroom is okay, but nothing to write home about, although entry and exit are good for a vehicle of this size. It’s anticipated that all five seats will be seldom used simultaneously.
Boot volume of 385-litres is ample for everyday needs. The boot’s awkwardly high lip became a bit of an issue when loading large objects and even more so when removing them as they couldn’t simply slide out of the boot.
While tearing up apexes and heel-toeing into corners is mainly reserved for the Focus XR5 Turbo, you will be pleased to hear that the regular Focus still holds its own when thrown into a few corners.
The dynamics of the car offer a subtle ride when cruising along and as such induce body roll when cornering, but it’s not overly intrusive. It gradually increases to a point where it holds and carries the cornering load.
In the right gear the Focus is also quite sprightly out of a corner, giving the driver the opportunity to really stretch its legs. Braking is also quite responsive with a firm and spongy brake pedal.
The 2.0-litre petrol consumes 7.1-litres per 100 kilometres on the combined test cycle, and on test that figure was easily achievable, dropping down to around 6.5L/100km with a greater percentage of highway driving under its belt.
An impressive array of safety features are included as standard on the LX, these include: Electronic Stability Control (ESC); driver and front passenger airbags; driver and front passenger side airbags; side curtain airbags; ABS brakes with EBD and BA; engine immobiliser and passive anti-theft system.
Standard features also include: in-dash CD player; auxiliary input jack; air-conditioning; 16-inch alloy wheels; front and rear fog lights; central locking; electric mirrors; electric windows; cruise control; MP3 compatibility and cargo blind.
The Focus LX is available in both Hatch and Sedan and is priced from $24,290 for both in manual, petrol guise. The four-speed automatic gearbox is an additional $2000.
Although it’s hard for Ford to compete with rivalry from Korea when it comes to pricing, it certainly has the measure of its cut price competitors when it comes to drive and handling.
At $24,290, the Focus LX offers good value for money and a rewarding drive. It’s certainly worth a test drive if you are in the market for a new small to mid sized hatchback or sedan.
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