As has been stated here before, Ford may indeed be the automaker with the best lineup from top to bottom, but that doesn’t mean that Ford has always been in such a position. When Ford was developing the replacement to the much-maligned car whose nameplate was a euphemism for the word prostitute in the late 1990’s, they decided to name the new car the Focus. That Focus won “World Car of the Year,” and I even drove a top of the range variant. Of course Ford may have designed a very good car, but the quality was just not there (piss poor dealerships don’t help much when your car keeps breaking). The second-generation Focus, which never saw the light of day in North America, shared a platform with the Volvo S40 and Mazda 3, so the Ford had to play the role of down-market little brother to the Swede and Hiroshiman. It’s those sorts of intra-company brand management issues that Ford’s flogging-off the majority of their non-core holdings has caused to no longer effect the Focus. Ford has concentrated on just making excellent Fords, and I like Fords.
The new Focus is the third model in this line of new, quite excellent, cars from Ford, and they have really outdone themselves on this one. As good as the Fiesta and Mondeo have been, the Focus is just better. The designers and engineers have made a car that is truly best in class. The benchmark VW Golf has now been utterly bested in quality, handling, performance, price, and attention to detail. Where VW has rested on their laurels and dropped key features from their cars, Ford has added content and created an absolute world-beater. The only issue with the 2012 Focus has been with older-people having problems with the touch-screen controls imbedded in the dash, but apparently they haven’t used an ATM since 1995. What you get, besides the new interface, is a high-quality and roomy interior; very-good steering, just enough power, and what is currently the best front-drive chassis money can buy all add up to make the Focus quite fun to dive.
The Focus gets top safety scores, as well, so the only actual issue with the car is that of the Focus badge itself. Ford has done the brave thing here by not changing the badge, but in doing so they may have done buyers a favour. Since they have chosen to call this a Focus, it will not be as desirable as a VW, so you’ll be able to get a much better deal on one. Yes, list prices have been creeping up a bit, but the average transaction figures are still similar to the old model. Basically a Focus buyer is getting a better car than say an Audi A3 for about Chevrolet Cruze money, and that may be the automotive bargain of the decade. Surely the general public will soon discover that the Focus is an excellent car, but earlier adopters can get in before demand skyrockets. Yes, in spite of the issues with my own Focus ownership back in 2002, the 2012 Focus gets the Rolling Sloane seal of approval. As my editor will tell you, I both keep a grudge and am quite the snob, so this must be a damned good car!