|Photos by Ulysses Ang|
The Kinetic Design lingo is working quite well and the Focus is becoming more and more handsome as it becomes a familiar sight on the road. The expressive face with the large grille, the hard crease character lines on the side, and the arrow-shaped tail lamp cluster at the back are all very European chic in design and execution.
A big negative though is that the Focus design requires some big wheels to work, and the Titanium+ looks rather staid with its standard 16-inch alloys. Despite sharing co-flagship designation with the 2.0 Sport+ hatchback, the Titanium+ offers little differentiation to the lesser Trend and Ambiente models. Thankfully though, Ford is offering to upgrade those 205/50 R 16 tires to a spiffy set of 18-inch alloy wheels (your choice of five-spoke or 7-spoke) fitted with OEM-specification 235/40 R 18 tires if you can cough up approximately P 100,000.
Designed specifically to cater to the conservative Asian taste, the Titanium+ is available solely with a two-tone tan and beige interior (this is actually regionally exclusive here). Thankfully, Ford left the fake wood trim at the door and stuck with aluminum trimmings and piano black accents. Though the all-black interior scheme in the Sport+ is still the personally preferred one, the tan/beige interior does feel much airier and much more welcoming. A beige interior can be wrongfully executed in so many ways (inconsistent colors, etc.) but the Focus’s cockpit is a testament to excellent build and fit and finish.
In terms of ergonomics, the Focus is downright a driver’s car. The controls, the seats, and the instrumentation are all clearly visible and all within easy reach of the driver. The Focus also offers excellent fore/art adjustment for its front seats (the most actually in its class) enabling this diminutive car to swallow tall people with considerable ease.
There are just two downsides to the entire Focus experience. First, the sheer number of controls (four clusters on the steering wheel alone) requires some degree of mastery. Normally, operating a car should be very intuitive, but on the Focus it’s actually necessary to browse through the owner’s manual. Second, the Focus’s interior could have been larger. Compared to other compacts (and even some sub-compacts out there), the Focus is tight, especially for the rear passengers. Trying to fit three abreast there would not be recommended.
Fitted with a segment-first direct injection gasoline engine, the Focus’s 2.0-liter engine develops the best figures in town: 170 horsepower and 202 Nm of torque. For those keeping score, it’s actually close to a 20-percent improvement over the previous 2.0-liter mill. The most noticeable trait of this engine is now quiet it is. It purrs quietly and evenly at idle, and when the needle does go up, it remains unobtrusive up until past 4,500-5,000 rpm when the engine roars with a nice throaty note. Speed progression is largely linear and the dual-clutch automatic (dubbed Power Shift) is buttery smooth. Some people do complain about the Power Shift’s lack of low-speed refinement, but it’s easily cured by some readjustment to old driving habits (the Power Shift, for example, doesn’t like sudden driver inputs). The Focus also amazes with its stellar levels of fuel economy, reaching 11.49 km/L in city traffic and close to 20 km/L when cruising on the highway.
The Focus exhibits easily the best handling of any compact car. It’s responsive, agile, and fun through corners. Taking it up Tagaytay, it’s obedient and exhibits very neutral handling characteristics. It also has excellent mechanical grip, despite purposely attacking a corner aggressively (almost a 90-degree turn at 40 km/h) on one occasion, the tires didn’t squeal nor did the traction control light turn on. Credit this perhaps to the standard Torque Vectoring Control system. At low speeds, the electric power steering system feels too light, but it thankfully tightens up as the speeds increase.
Like the Sport+, the Titanium+ doesn’t skimp on safety equipment. Aside from the usual airbags (six of them, actually), anti-lock brakes, and aforementioned traction control, the Focus comes with BLIS (blind spot monitoring) and Active City Stop. Though they sound gimmicky at first, they actually work. Personally, Active City Stop saved me from a potential fender bender when I drove distracted on the way to Bonifacio Global City.
The Bottom Line
Topping out at P 1,199,000, the Ford Focus is a car enthusiast’s wet dream. It’s got everything you can dream about: handsome looks, sophisticated drivetrain, unparalleled connectivity (awesome 9-speaker system by the way), and uncompromising safety all at a price that’s shockingly affordable.
With the exception of its cramped cabin, the Ford Focus simply hammers the other cars in its segment. And though the Sport+ is still the yummiest Focus of all (I’ve yet to drive one locally for an extended period), the 2.0 Titanium+ is an equally excellent ride, especially if you want something a bit more conservative or perhaps you just need that trunk.