What does it take to build the world's best-selling car? Think about how many different peoples expectations you have to meet. The word, compromise, comes to mind. And that means something that isn't particularly good at anything. Now I consider myself a staunch petrol head. Someone who tries to guess the make and model of car just by hearing it drive by. So to buy something that is compromised would be an affront to my whole being. But life is a cruel mistress. The realities of daily driver that does 16 liters per 100 kilometers and explodes its engine if you over rev it once in a while, don't lend themselves to stable relationships bank accounts. So in 2013, I decided to take a break from actively trying to sabotage myself and buy a brand new car. Something that was sensible, practical and .... reliable. That's where this ford focus comes in. The best-selling car of 2013. And after two years of ownership and 34,000 kilometers I can say that Ford may have found a way make everyone happy without creating something completely anonymous.
It's a testament to Ford's engineering prowess that they can make a "world car" that can be equally at home on a motorway, a rough bumpy road or even a twisty mountain pass. The legendary handling of the previous generation cars has been well preserved. It tucks the nose in and shoots you towards the horizon when you accelerate out of a tight second gear bend. That is a revelation to a die-hard rear wheel drive fan like me. In the real world, I think it could keep up with one of my boy racer machines on a twisty road. With a 125 kw 2 liter petrol engine, it won't win any drag races but it does rev quite nicely to the red line and gives a satisfying shove past 5,000 rpm.
What about that electric steering then? I was worried it will feel like one of those bumper cars where the steering input only has a theoretical relationship with the direction you travel in. And I'm not completely sold on this one but the way ford has managed to make it work with the suspension and chassis electronics, the overall feedback that you get from the controls is pretty impressive in day to day driving. Especially when the upside is that I can park with one finger.
In terms of practicality, I've transported a thousand bottles of juice in it (don't ask), driven for eight hour journeys on the motorway with four friends and their luggage and commuted in the city on a daily basis. So that should have all the bases covered. Ford's combined fuel economy claim of about 6.6 liters per 100 kilometers does elude me though. I have been managing about 7.4 most of the time. You may be able to get it close to 7 if your driving is not as spirited as mine. Servicing through Ford has been smooth sailing. I was pedantic enough to get it done at the dealer I bought it from, an hour's drive from my place so getting there was the only difficult part of that process. At about $300 a pop once a year it's pretty reasonable. I'm still running on the original tires and there haven't been any squeaks or rattles to report.
Looks are subjective but I think it looks pretty sporty and sophisticated in the, 'winning blue' color I bought - wouldn't announce that name at a party though Mr Ford. The only design criticism I have is that the area between the rear wheel arch and C pillar is too big and makes it look a bit like a van. But that I reckon is a safety thing and most cars these days have this issue. It's a lot more prominent in the Fiesta. Other things to nit-pick on; well some of the plastics on the inside feel like they came off a hot wheels car and there is a cover behind the steering wheel that looks like a left over piece of cutting from an imitation Louis Vuitton factory - since the car is made in Thailand that's not an entirely unreasonable assumption.
In conclusion, the Focus has been everything I expected it to be and more. It's comfortable, practical and I can thrash it around every day without the fear of the dipstick shooting out of the bonnet. That's pretty good for something that has to also impress your Nan.