Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Review: 2016 Ford Focus 1.5 EcoBoost Titanium+

Photos by Ulysses Ang
Blame APEC. The week with the Ford Focus was supposed to be one of fun and frugality; instead, it ended up as one filled with frustration. And it’s not because of the car. More than anything, it did make the horrendous Manila traffic crawl actually comfortable, but it didn’t validate the one thing that should’ve marked the Focus’s biggest improvement: fuel economy. Yes, with an average speed of 11 km/h (actually dipping to single digits by Friday), the Focus 1.5 EcoBoost eked out just 5.28 km/L.

In the Focus’s defense, no other car can manage a better fuel figure, bar a hybrid, so while it can’t be concluded that this engine tech squeezes more out of every drop, this can be said instead: it’s back. After being overshadowed by the Japanese in the compact car game, it’s now back as the segment’s best balanced choice.



Everything starts with the looks. The 2016 Focus was first glimpsed as a 5-door hatchback during its Adelaide drive, and now, here it is as a 4-door sedan. In this subdued shade of Magnetic Metallic, it actually looks more executive than compact. Instead of relying on swoopy lines, Ford has retained its highly angular shape making it a standout in the process. Designers opted to make the Focus look wider than it seems and this starts with the new front-end. The simpler treatment is certainly more pleasing to the eye; but why they HIDs omitted for the update remains puzzling. At the back, the re-shaped trunk lid, tail light cluster, and standard spoiler do the same trick as well. Finally, this top-of-the-line sedan finally gets the wheel and tire combination it deserves: 18-inch Y-spoke rims with Goodyear Asymmetric 235/40R18 tires.

Inside, Ford engineers have finally understood the concept that more buttons don’t necessarily mean easier to use. The once confusing dashboard design has been de-cluttered with less buttons and controls without sacrificing on use and functionality. The controls on the center stack are now clustered rationally with the 8-inch screen on top, the audio system below that, and finally the climate controls just in front of the shifter. Ford has always harped on how SYNC 2 enables you to use natural voice commands, but even without it, all the physical controls are (finally) easy to use. The 4-way split-screen is lag-free as well. Some controls have migrated to the three-spoke steering wheel, but they’re easy to find perhaps with the exception of the cruise control switches since it packs six buttons in such a small footprint.



The Focus has always been criticized for its poor space utilization, and it’s no different here. Personal space, most especially for those seated at the back, remains at a premium. So while ferrying five adults in comfort is a challenge, the seats, front or back, offer best-in-class support. This means the four adults who find themselves in a Focus can revel in comfort (except for knee space) even when stuck in traffic for hours. The revised center stack and transmission tunnel also frees up much more cubby holes than before. Interestingly, the front cup holders offer a movable partition and a sliding mechanism enabling you to accommodate a one-liter bottle and a 400-ml cup at the same time. For this iteration, interior materials have been upped a notch with more soft-touch plastics and crisp, solid feeling controls dotting the cabin. Unfortunately, Ford went for the traditional route and opted for a two-tone black and beige interior for the Titanium+ creating a strong disconnect to the otherwise sporty vibe (even the interior ambient lighting is red).

The same disconnected feeling, though not as strong, can be felt in the Focus’s steering. It still is one of the sportiest compacts out there, but the recalibrated steering does sacrifice a lot of linearity for a sportier feel. At sudden turns, the steering feels like it’s encashing a check that the chassis can’t handle. The steering’s quick reflexes aren’t met with a go-kart-like chassis. Instead, there’s good progressive lean and great control from suspension itself. It’s as if the chassis value more precise, more dedicated inputs rather than quick tugs from the steering wheel. Still, for most users, they’ll likely applaud the move because it gives a “sportier” feel even a low speeds. It’s also hard to beat the Focus when it comes to downright suspension tuning. When it comes to delivering the riding goods, no other car comes close. There’s no crashiness despite the low profile rubber. If there’s one complaint though, there’s audible tire noise at higher speed.



The Focus also has features such as an enhanced Active Park Assist. There’s little need to use it given the excellent visibility, but in case you’re parking challenged, this enhanced version does work in both parallel and perpendicular spaces. It also actively scans for spots constantly allowing you find a suitable parking space quicker. Oddly enough, though the Focus has front and rear proximity sensors, the 8-inch screen doesn’t offer a rear view camera—that’s a waste of display space.

Under the hood of the 2016 Focus is a now a single engine line: a 1.5-liter 4-cylinder engine equipped with EcoBoost. With direct injection, variable cam timing, and turbocharging, it packs a mean punch: 180 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 240 Nm of torque from as low as 1,600 rpm. Sadly, because of the APEC traffic there was little chance to experience the engine’s capabilities. However, one short full throttle squirt did result in satisfying grunt with a split-second of torque steer action (before the stability control intervened). Still, the motor is mighty smooth and refined.



Adding to the smoother nature is the adoption of a conventional 6-speed automatic. Replacing the clunky dual-clutch Power Shift, this traditional torque converter gearbox finally gives the Focus added refinement most especially when crawling in traffic. There’s a touch of jerkiness when coaxing the gearbox to downshift quickly, but for the most part, it’s a good ally to the engine’s wide power band. Though equipped with paddle shifters and a sport mode, there’s no need to use them since the gearbox responds beautifully to keep the engine singing at its sweet spot.

The gates of hell did open in Metro Manila during APEC week and that’s certainly a missed opportunity to try out the capabilities of the 2016 Ford Focus. Despite being stuck puttering around in bumper-to-bumper traffic, the revamped Focus shines with its improved interior experience. Not everyone’s a fan of beige for sure, but the ergonomics, comfort, and refinement made the daily four-hour commute much more bearable. And though it didn’t exactly return the convincing fuel economy figure you were looking for, it’s worth giving this car a second shot. Hopefully this time, traffic cooperates, because that EcoBoost is shaping up to be mighty fine.





2016 Ford Focus 1.5 EcoBoost Titanium+
Ownership 2016 Ford Focus 1.5 EcoBoost GTDI Titanium+
Year Introduced 2012 (Refreshed: 2016)
Vehicle Classification Compact Sedan
The Basics
Body Type 4-door sedan
Seating 5
Engine / Drive F/F
Under the Hood
Displacement (liters) 1.5
Aspiration Direct Injection, Turbo
Layout / # of Cylinders I4
BHP @ rpm 180 @ 6,000
Nm @ rpm 240 @ 1,600 - 5,000
Fuel / Min. Octane Gasoline / 91~
Transmission 6 AT
Cruise Control Yes
Dimensions and Weights
Length (mm) 4,358
Width (mm) 1,823
Height (mm) 1,484
Wheelbase (mm) 2,650
Curb Weight (kg) 1,409
Suspension and Tires
Front Suspension Independent, MacPherson Strut
Rear Suspension Independent, Control Blade Multi-Link
Front Brakes Vented Disc
Rear Brakes Disc
Tires Goodyear Asymmetric 235/40R18 (f & r)
Wheels Alloy
Safety Features
Airbags 6
Anti-Lock Brakes (ABS) Yes
Traction / Stability Control Yes
Parking Sensors Yes
Exterior Features
Headlights Halogen
Fog Lamps Yes, Rear
Auto Lights Yes
Auto Wipers Yes
Interior Features
Steering Wheel Adjustment Tilt/Telescopic
Steering Wheel Material Leather
Seating Adjustment Electric (Driver)
Seating Surface Leather
Folding Rear Seat Yes, 60/40
On-Board Computer Yes
Convenience Features
Power Steering Yes
Power Door Locks Yes
Power Windows Yes
Power Mirrors Yes, with Fold
Climate Control Yes, Dual
Audio System Stereo
CD
MP3
Aux
USB
Bluetooth
No. of Speakers 9, Sony
Steering Wheel Controls Yes

47 comments:

  1. Hi Ulysses, have you tried bringing the Focus to the highway like Skyway, SLEX, or NLEX? Also, have you tried a 0-100kmh sprint?

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    Replies
    1. Not yet.

      Hence I can't pass first judgement on fuel economy until I get a proper non-APEC drive. Paging Ford :-P

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    2. Comprehensive and honest review, though. Good work!

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  2. Too bad that the engine hasn't been tested to its full extent... Damn APEC traffic. Better luck next time.

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  3. Liked the hatchback. I can only hope that maintenance costs are reasonable, considering the additional complexity the turbo adds.

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  4. ^In your dreams mate... ford service in PH is not as dependable as you'd expect... no improvement anytime soon even with a newly appointed Country Manager...

    PS. bye Kay...

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    Replies
    1. Do you have any proof to support your allegations? Or is it just hearsay?

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  5. ^Some day you will see... better start saving up on a brand new ford... once you own one you will understand what I mean... cheers!

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  6. why them car manufacturers keep makin direct injection engines???.. the dreaded intake valve deposits that plauge Audis, BMWs, Mazdas, Fords, up to now. Hope they do provide a quick fix on this... This is the reason why most car buyers in the know still prefers MPI engines. O well, to each his own. This Focus looks promising though. Nice.

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    Replies
    1. You're misinformed. Direct injection engines are better than multi point injection. It's like comparing drum brakes and disc brakes. Research more on direct injection engines you'll see. And would brands like Audi and BMW would make mistakes like that. Mazda and Ford are just catching up to the luxury German brands. In the near future, every car will have a direct injection engine. Just you wait.

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    2. @anonymous 7:01pm
      am not mis-informed. Do your homework first about the carbon deposits on the intake valves of DI engines. (fuel not passing thru the back of the intake valves causing the gunk build ups) - unlike MPI engines which the injectors sprays fuel on the intake valves. DI engines are problematic in the long run compared to MPI engines. The only added benifit of DI engines are a bit higher HP and a so negligible fuel economy... Please do a ton of research first.

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    3. Nice tidbit here. Perhaps that might explain why Toyota ain't using D4S for their commuter cars yet (i.e. Corolla Altis).

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    4. in fairness to Toyota - their 4U-GSE engine (used in the 86 and BRZ) uses both port and direct injection system. Its a twin system. Best of both worlds. It eliminated the Gunk build ups on the intake valves (using port injection), and the added benifits (higher HP / fuel economy) of Direct injection. Im wondering why the other big guns - BMW, Audi, VWs, Fords are not developing the same system...

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    5. I may sound stupid, but perhaps patent wars may happen. Or not.

      Don't know if the automotive industry is similar to the electronics industry as regards to patents.

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    6. in the automotive world - patents are BL. as long as fuel economy and safety is concerned - everybody can copy anybody, just so they put a different name for it.

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  7. this, or the up coming 2016 civic. Decisions decisions...

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    Replies
    1. This Focus has more HP and Torque than the upcoming 1.5L Turbocharge Di Civic. I prefer this one.

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  8. I'd still take the Mazda 3 R over this. The Mazda looks better inside and out and the so called "Ecoboost" didn't lived up to it's name, despite the traffic. It's a ford and we know that it's plague with electronic problems due to having more electronics than necessary. More electronics=More parts that can and will break down.

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    Replies
    1. Well.. Almost every car model out there is slowly being pocketed with electronics, except for the undying AUVs.

      Things that will help here will be driver education and good aftersales service..

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    2. Do you own an Ecoboost-powered vehicle? Or have you owned a turbo-powered car? What made you say that the Ecoboost did not live up to its name? The output of that 1.5L turbo engine (180PS/240Nm) is at par with the output of the engine on the Mazda6 (188PS/250Nm) already. Even the small 1.0L Ecoboost engine on the Fiesta produces about the same amount of torque (200Nm) as the 2.0L SkyActiv engine on the Mazda3.

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    3. my lowly mirage G4 does even less - 5-6km/li in heavy traffic. I think the 1.5 ecoboost does live up to its name. Considering the hellish APEC traffic. In real world city driving, I think 9-10 km/li is easy.

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    4. Powerwise, yes, the higher torque is there but seems these ecoboost is not different from the conventional engines in terms of fuel mileage.

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    5. While turbochargers may seem nice, it strains the engine and produces a lot of heat which makes the engine more prone to breakdowns, not to mention that it uses more fuel. A naturally aspirated engine like the ones used in Mazda's are better if you'll just use the car for daily commute, and it's also more fuel efficient.

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    6. you might be referring to turbos of old. Today's technology and manufacturing process has taken all the things you said into proper consideration into the product. every bits and pieces has been considered. The mazda's skyactive engine, as good as it is, has yet won engine of the year award. Ford's 1.0 ecoboost has won 3 in a row. In daily commute, turbo wins. the low to mid end grunt gives you the advantage to easily sneak thru traffic and pass other slow moving vehicles - easily.

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    7. Ford's Ecoboost engines uses water-cooled turbochargers, unlike old turbochargers which are oil-cooled and suffers oil-cooking thus resulting to failure. Audi, BMW, and Mercedes are using water-cooled systems for their turbo engines. Nissan and Subaru also use the same cooling technology for their turbo engines.

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  9. Man, im confused what to choose. Mazda 3, Focus hatch or the upcoming Civic Turbo.

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    Replies
    1. If you want the best design and fuel efficiency, choose the Mazda 3, choose the Focus if you want more power. I don't know about the new Civic though, it's not released yet.

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    2. The new Civic 1.5L Tubro VTEC is already released in the US. No news yet on its PH release. Honda's 1.5L Turbo VTEC may not be as powerful as Ford's 1.5L Ecoboost but the new Civic plaform is lighter than the Focus. Initial tests show that the new Civic Turbo (7 seconds) is quicker to 100kmh than the Focus Ecoboost (8 seconds). There are some tests that show the new Civic 1.5L Turbo is even quicker than the current Civic Si (2.4L K24).

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    3. yes, power is not everything. performance always boils down to weight. Power to weight ratio to be more precise. The lighter the car, the better.

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    4. The TOTL Honda CIvic will be more expensive than the Mazda 3 or Ford focus. Mazda 3 is the cheapest and is assured of quality as it is made in Japan + the 3 years free PMS. The Focus will be is priced a little more expensive than the Mazda but it is an American car which has the most power but has the least reliability.

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    5. @3:37 Anonymous

      Where does it say that the new Civic has already been released? I don't find any dealers here in the States that have them yet. I estimate they'll have these on the 3rd quarter of 2016 the earliest. Can't wait to replace my aging Prius..

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    6. I heard the upcoming refreshed Mazda 3 will come with Electronic Parking Brake. Still trying to gather more news with regards to additional upgrades. Hoping for the best.

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    7. @8:03 Anon - check the US website (http://automobiles.honda.com/civic/), as well as a quick google search, and you'll see that sales of the 2016 Civic has already started in the states, and units are already at the dealerships. This includes the turbo variants. I'm actually pretty excited for it to get here. I just wish we also got the Si variants.

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  10. I'll wait for the Elantra and Civic non-tubo models before deciding on what car to buy.

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  11. Uly, yung low end model, beige interior din?

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  12. ^^^The hatchback models (Sport and Sport+) have black interiors while the sedan models (Titanium and Titanium+) have beige interiors. That's what was released in the news a few weeks back.

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  13. MAS PANGET NGAYON ANG FORD FOCUS DAHIL NAWALA ANG HID HEADLAMPS AND SUNROOF!!!

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    Replies
    1. Yes, Dont you just miss that sunroof in our country.....

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  14. sir uly, made in thailand po ba ito?

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  15. Euro 4 naba yung ford focus ????

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  16. If you were to choose between the Ford Focus 1.5L EcoBoost Sport + and the Mazda 3 2.0L SkyActiv R 5DR, which one would you choose and why?

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    Replies
    1. http://www.carguide.ph/2014/06/review-2014-mazda-3-20-skyactiv.html

      http://www.carguide.ph/2015/11/review-2016-ford-focus-15-ecoboost.html

      Read these two stories and see for yourself.

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    2. I will still choose the Focus 1.5L Ecoboost due to:
      1) Power, 203HP and 300Nm
      2) What is Skyactiv if you have Start-Stop function, when in N or P mode, the engine (not moving) will be revving at only 1.2-1.3 liters per hour vs in D mode with 1.8-1.9 liters per hour?
      3) Quiet interior

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  17. I already tested the FC of my new Ford Focus 1.5L Ecoboost from Paranaque to Baguio City. I don't believe that it can be fuel efficient until I'm driving at NLEX, SCTEX and TPLEX up to Baguio City. You won't believe but it reached 18.6 km per liter driving/cruising at 80 kph from NLEX to TPLEX. I want to reach 20 km/liter, if it is possible, but TPLEX is kinda boring to drive. And of course, Baguio is already uphill, I ended up an average 12.2 km/liter since I got bored from NLEX to TPLEX kaya back to my driving habit of at least 100 kph.

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  18. I already tweaked the ECU and gave me a boost of 23HP and 60Nm. It is now 203HP and 300 Nm of torque. With only 1.5L engine, the Ecoboost can power up 200HP :)

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