First drive in the 2018 Ford Focus – International launch
Don’t be jelly, but I headed off to Nice, France, to drive the all-new Ford Focus. Yes, yes, we have established I have a kick-ass job. But that aside (for now), the Focus was my main focus on this trip. Ok, ok, that will be one and only time I do that (I lie).
The first thing my driving partner (who happens to be my ex-boss…awks!) and I discussed when we stepped in to the new Focus, was its competitor. The obvious, the Volkswagen Golf. It is hard not to compare anything in this segment to the Golf, it is the segment leader after all. And so, the bar is set high. The Focus had a lot to live up to in our eyes. And did it? Read on to find out! (Because I need that average time thing on my Google Analytics to look good).
First of all, what’s actually new? Well everything. Ford started with “a blank piece of paper” and wanted to make the new Focus a car that people would fall in love with and remain in love with. And it does look goooooood, people! Better than before. I haven’t been a major Focus fan in the past, but I genuinely like the look of this one. My favourite model is, and if you are South African you will start hurling abuse at me right about now, the wagon. But because said South Africans don’t buy station wagons, Ford South Africa will not be bringing it to our shores. Thanks a lot, guys! So, my next best model is the Vignale, oh now wait, we can’t afford that one, so again, not hitting our shores. We are left with is the hatch and sedan in four spec levels; Ambiente, Trendline, Titanium and ST-Line.
Engine-wise, we will see the familiar multi-award winning 1,0 EcoBoost head to SA, as well as the new 1.5-litre turbopetrol EcoBoost. I drove the 134 kW 1.5-litre engine on the launch and it is punchy to say the least. It is mated to a six-speed manual transmission, which had my focus (haha) not been solely on driving on the right-hand side of the road, would have felt smooth and direct. I may have missed the gear knob completely a few times while trying to navigate the very narrow, windy mountain passes our route took us on. How we survived, I will never know. What was noticeable was just how well this car handles the corners we threw at it, or we threw it in to…. whichever which way you want to look at it. It feels solid and sticks to the road like shit to a blanket (my mom will kill me if she reads this). We will have to wait to see which derivatives come to SA, but I am hoping this 134 kW does.
This Ford Focus is full to the brim with tech, from Ford’s Co-Pilot360 technologies which include Adaptive Cruise Control with Stop&Go, Speed Sign Recognition, and Lane Centering to Evasive Steering Assist and Blind Spot Information system with Cross Traffic Alert. These are just a few of the tech available on this car, and again, we will have to wait to see what makes its way to South Africa.
But by far, my favourite bit of tech, is the Door Edge Protector which is a little piece of rubber that ‘creeps’ out from the inside of the door and wraps itself around the outer edge of the door as to protect it if it hits a wall or another car door etc. As you close the door, it disappears almost quicker than your eye can detect. I may have spent far too much time closing doors on this launch just to see if I could catch the piece of rubber out. I never did, not once! Oh, how I am amused by the small things in life.
My final say…
The more time I spent in this new Ford Focus, the more I liked it. I expected to walk away still pledging my allegiance to the Volkswagen Golf, but there are enough Focus lovers out there (16 million worldwide, in fact) to prove a point; the Focus is a worthy contender to the Golf. I will go as far as to say that Ford might just be right when they call this the best car they have made. An excellent product all round. Now to see how much it will cost here in SA. You can expect to see it on our roads in the beginning of 2019.