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December 20, 2016

Review: 2016 Ford Focus Sport

When it comes to crowning the Philippines’s sportiest compact out there, there are two cars that always seem to roll off the tongue: the Honda Civic and the Mazda3. And you can’t blame the masses: one touts a turbocharged engine and the other has driving excitement written all over it. But what if I tell you there’s a compact car in the market that’s often overlooked, but still offers a huge chunk of that driving excitement virtue? Heck, it’s even got a turbocharged engine with more power and torque than the Civic’s. Meet the Ford Focus once more.

The last time I was in the driver’s seat of the Focus, it was with the fully-loaded 4-door Titanium+ during APEC week. Then, the snarling traffic jams and resulting single digit average speed didn’t do the fuel efficiency any justice, so I took it upon myself to give the Focus a shot at redemption and that’s where we are today. Now, what I got isn’t the same Titanium+ model from a year or so ago; it’s not even the Sport+ hatchback I’ve been wanting to get my dirty mitts on for so long. This here is the entry-level Sport hatchback.

Despite an initial feeling of disappointment, as the Candy Red unit arrived, I thought: this isn’t so bad. Compared to other entry-level models which are stripped down, the Focus Sport still looks pretty complete. Credit that to the same exterior specs in all but the alloy wheels. At 17 inches, it’s a size down from the Sport+’s, but in the greater scheme of things, it doesn’t really matter. Remember, the Civic RS rolls on 17s too and hardly anyone complains. This entry-level hatchback also loses the daytime running lights, but considering that all Focus models don’t have HIDs or LEDs, it’s no big deal.

It’s inside where the P 130,000 price difference between the Sport and Sport+ makes itself quite apparent. Anything you see or read about in the Focus’s marketing material, be it billboards or brochures, isn’t in the Sport: powered driver’s seat, automatic headlights, rain-sensing wipers, dual zone climate control, SYNC 2—all missing in action. The Sport doesn’t even have the fancy Active Park Assist or Active City Stop. Yet, for all that missing stuff, it doesn’t feel empty at all. Credit that to the choice of materials and the exemplary fit and finish. Soft touch plastics on the dashboard, tactile switchgear, leather on the thrones—it’s a solid effort. Plus, I’ve never really warmed up to the touchscreen quadrant interface of SYNC 2, so having the multitude of physical buttons and the crisp, clear (albeit small 4.2-inch) screen feels much better.

 The Focus is always called out for its tight interior and it’s the same situation here. Whether it’s space for people or stuff, it’s at a premium. The seats are generally supportive front or back, but the rear occupants will rally against the lack of knee room. And even if the front occupants are willing to give up a bit of their legroom, it’s not going to add much back there. Plus, there are only two headrests at the back; it’s as if Ford’s already giving up the idea of putting a third person back there. It’s the same case when trying to find space for smartphones, loose change, drinks, and what have you. The front cup holders and its movable partition is a great idea in principle, but it’ll struggle to even fit a short-sized Starbucks latte and a 5.5-inch phone in the same receptacle.

On the road, not much separates this entry-level Focus with the top-of-the-line one and that makes it the segment’s most unappreciated gem. Compared to other compact cars which tend to gravitate either towards handling or comfort, the Focus offers both. It’s impeccably balanced; offering a nicely ironed ride over Manila’s pothole ridden roads, while managing good and progressive body movements when hitting mountainous switchbacks. Now, if there’s any letdown, it’s the steering. Though it fulfills the layman’s definition of sporty handling, for enthusiasts, the feel is just off. The lightened steering effort coupled with noticeable sensitivity around the center does make the Focus feel quick, but the same system also makes it far more tiring to drive long distances. I actually had aching wrists after a round trip drive from Manila to Tagaytay, so I can’t imagine what a Manila to Baguio trip would feel like.

Steering aside, there’s no arguing with the Focus’s best asset: the engine. At a smidge above a million pesos, plopping in a 180 horsepower, 240 Nm of torque engine makes this car a steal. While Honda has managed to hog all the attention with its Earth Dreams engine, Ford’s own EcoBoost is just as good. There’s some slight vibration at idle, but as it gets going, it becomes smooth, refined, and quiet. It’s some 0.4 seconds slower to the century mark compared to the Civic RS, but the Focus does feel like the faster car.

Credit that feeling of going fast to the Focus’s adoption of a conventional 6-speed automatic. Compared to Honda’s perk-sapping CVT, this traditional torque converter gearbox gives the satisfying feel of shifts that are actually organic and not artificial. There’s still a touch of jerkiness when coaxing a downshift, but for the most part, it’s great in maximizing the engine’s wider power band. Sadly, the Sport nixes the paddle shifters. At any time you want to shift gears yourself, you have to settle for the gear-lever mounted rocker switch.

Equally problematic is the Focus’s fuel economy. Honda has gone the CVT route to prop up the Civic RS’s efficiency figures and that strategy has worked. For all Ford’s talk about improving fuel efficiency, the Focus Sport drinks fuel at the rate of 6.25 km/L (average speed 12 km/h). This figure goes up slightly to 7.69 km/L as the traffic lightens up (average speed 17 km/h).

Although the Sport variant doesn’t offer any of the features that has made the Ford Focus a technological breakthrough in the compact car class, you shouldn’t care. Come to think of it, those features like Active Park Assist and Active City Stop are frivolous. Sure, they’re great in the brochure and in a sales pitch, but when do you exactly use them? By removing those electronic aids, the Focus’s often overlooked attributes begin to shine. It’s not perfect, but it’s still mighty fun, comfy, and fast. It looks good doing all that too. Above all though, the P 1,088,000 price tag makes it an unbeatable bargain.

2016 Ford Focus Sport EcoBoost
Ownership 2016 Ford Focus Sport EcoBoost 5DR
Year Introduced 2012 (Refreshed: 2016)
Vehicle Classification Compact Car
The Basics
Body Type 5-door Hatchback
Seating 5
Engine / Drive F/F
Under the Hood
Displacement (liters) 1.5
Aspiration Turbocharged
Fuel Delivery Direct Injection
Layout / # of Cylinders I4
BHP @ rpm 180 @ 6,000
Nm @ rpm 240 @ 1,600 to 5,000
Fuel / Min. Octane Gasoline / 95~
Transmission 6 AT
Cruise Control No
Fuel Economy @ Ave. Speed 6.25 km/L @ 12 km/h,
17.85 km/L @ 66 km/h
Dimensions and Weights
Length (mm) 4,354
Width (mm) 1,823
Height (mm) 1,484
Wheelbase (mm) 2,650
Curb Weight (kg) 1,289
Suspension and Tires
Front Suspension Independent, MacPherson Strut
Rear Suspension Independent, Control Blade Multi-link
Front Brakes Vented Disc
Rear Brakes Disc
Tires Michelin Primacy LC 215/50 R 17 W (f & r)
Wheels Alloy
Safety Features
Airbags 4
Anti-Lock Brakes (ABS) Yes
Traction / Stability Control Yes
Parking Sensors Yes, Rear
Other Safety Features Hill Launch Assist
Exterior Features
Headlights Halogen
Fog Lamps Yes, Front and Rear
Auto Lights No
Rain-sensing Wipers No
Interior Features
Steering Wheel Adjust Tilt/Telescopic
Steering Wheel Material Leather
Seating Adjustment Manual
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
Climate Control Manual
Audio System Stereo
SD Card
# of Speakers 6
Steering Controls Yes


  1. Based on this test drive...di porke lower engine displacement @ 1.5 with turbo is fuel efficient na.what i like is no cvt! The latest HoCi they just bought it because of the H plate C sake but best pa din Manual Gear no matter what! Happy HoHoHolidays! M-79

    1. Each to his own. :) May mga nag-pa-prioritize ng efficiency and practicality over driving feels talaga, lalo na yung mga walang panahon sa manual against the traffic, at mas gusto lang eh comfortably go from A to B. :)

      Sanayan lang yan.

    2. I'm having an average FC of 10.4 km/l for the focus.
      I won't agree with 6.25km/l, you just have to play with the pedal.

  2. Hey Uly. Which has better value? This, the 2016 Civic 1.8E or 2017 Mazda 3V?

    1. Dismissing long-term reliability (you guys can discuss your experiences here), I'd rank them:

      1. Honda Civic 1.8 E
      2. Mazda3 1.5 V
      3. Ford Focus Sport

      The Civic is best valued because it feels like the most well rounded of the bunch. Good enough power, great space, and its the newest.

      The Mazda is good, but it's the 2.0 that delivers. The 1.5 V's engine is the greatest let down as you feel the chassis being able to take more. Wishing for a de-tuned 2.0 motor instead or one without the fancy i-Eloop system to make it cheaper.

      Finally, the Focus. It's got the power... Most bang for the buck, but it just feels a bit old and it's tight. The fuel consumption is a let down too.

    2. I have bought the Focus Sport a few moths back and I agree with most of the sentiment posted by the reviewer. The fuel efficiency (or lack thereof) is the real achilles heel of the Focus.

      The newest Civic model is a toy car in design, a less sporty car to drive than either the Mazda3 and the Focus, and the CVT wastes any potential the Civic may have had in the first place. My last three cars (a Lancer, a Civic, and a Lancer EX) were CVTs, and when it came time to buy a new car, I promise never to get a CVT again!

      I test drove the Civic, the Mazda3, and the Focus before deciding on getting the American brand. It is the most relaxing to drive, even on traffic. And a few months later, I still believe I made the right choice. The Mazda3 1.5L SkyActiv was my second choice, it even beat the Civic in overall value IMO. Is the 2.0L better? Yes. But a 1.5L Mazda3 is better than a 1.8 Civic. So it is a non-issue.

      I understand the the cult of Civic is still strong in the Philippines. I should know, I have owned three different generations of that venerable badge since the early 90s. But I have moved on. And while I tried to like the current model, even tried test driving it three times from three different showrooms, I find it just totally unappealing. YMMV.

      And BTW, never believe the sticker price. Mazda agents gave me at least 40k discount for the Mazda3 while Ford can go up to 100k. Honda knows that the Cult of Civic is strong and only give 10-15k discount, if at that. My agent admitted that the manager usually prefers not to even give 5k in discount if he can because of the slavish devotion of Civic buyers. Why give Alice a 10k discount when Bob will buy it at the sticker price? Why indeed. (Suckers!)

    3. I agree with Uly with the ranking. This guy above me doesn't know what he's talking about. Mazda 1.5 beats the Civic 1.8E?? Hahaha. Dream on.

    4. Cult of Civic member spotted!

    5. Civic fanatic or not, its pretty much obvious that the civic 1.8 offers better value than the mazda3 1.5. That's a fact.

    6. Danny you got your Focus Sport with 100K discount? Bringing the price to only 988K. That's a good deal.

    7. I'm having an average FC of 10.4 km/l for the focus,
      I won't agree with 6.25km/l, you just have to play with it to get used to

    8. Just bought a Ford Focus 1.5L sport. Yeah it gets around 6 - 7.5km/L in city driving. It doesn't matter though because the fuel consumption is offset by the retail price difference versus its competitors. Plus with the discounts given, this has the most value for your money. It has leather seats, turbo, rear sensors, bluetooth, etc.

      The only huge question mark is reliability, but so far I haven't encountered any problems. Then again it's too early to tell, I haven't even had my first 6 month oil change. But since the previous dual clutch transmission was replaced by a normal 6 speed automatic, I doubt it'll have any reliability issues.

      This car is fast, no doubt. But sometimes you wouldn't even notice you've already reached 100km/h. It feels like 60km/h in say, a honda city. NVH suppression is therefore very good. When you floor it though, it'll slightly dig you in your seat.

      It says in the manual the front ground clearance is 101mm to 136mm, I don't know what that means but so far I haven't scraped the focus, unlike my damn honda city.

      Anyway if you guys are planning to buy a focus, don't hesitate. I'm satisfied so far. It's quite rare too, I've seen more mustangs than the focus in my city. Best bang for the buck indeed.

  3. Now if only the new Chevy Cruze with the turbocharged gas engine and the turbodiesel engine will make its way to the Philippines.

  4. I agree with you Danny by the way im M-79!Honda Phil.took advantage the price and some HoCi gearatic with bunch of bucks bought!i will buy HoCi if they will release Hatchback 6MT or else Sylphy will release Turbo 6MT crossfinger '17!!! For now best option for me facelifted Altis 1.6G 6MT! PANDA is CVT...if ur interested what's meaning of PANDA just comment M-79

  5. hi uly, can you elaborate more on what's wrong with the steering?.. is it overly assisted even in high speeds?.. steering corrections needed ?.. thanks

    1. The Focus's steering (especially this refreshed one) not linear. Near center, it's very sensitive. It responds to inputs quite quickly. It makes it feel "sporty" especially to non-car people, but it's actually very tiring to drive.

      As you go further and further away from the center, the steering response slows down. Supposedly, this is supposed to improve highway stability, and it does...if the roads were all billiard smooth.

      What you actually want is steering that's linear so you exactly know what your suspension is doing. Both the Civic and the Mazda3 achieve this. The Civic might feel a bit dead on center, but at least the experience is linear and progressive. The Mazda3 goes further by adding some good feedback as well.

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    3. Yup, the focus have a non-linear steering, which actually varies with speed (speed sensitive).
      I guess it has to do with its active park assist

    4. It doesn't have anything to do with being speed sensitive. Most advanced EPS systems are speed sensitive.

  6. how can an in line 4 engine be twin turbo?.. maybe it's brochure typo again

    1. Sorry, corrected that. The specs part is pure HTML code. It's not automated...I neglected to see "twin turbo".


    1. mahirap magpagawa ng american brand cars, akala mo ba ganun kadali?

  8. Andyan na naman kayo mga crossover boys.
    Kahit anong gawin ninyo, di nyo kaya ang 200Hp x 500Nm ng Duramax engine. Tama si Kim, your engines are like Toyota Vios, bagay na bagay pang colorum na Taxi. Walang binatbat, sa Torque pa lang di man lang nangalahati. Tapos poporma pa kayo.

    Ganun pa man, Merry Xmas & Happy New Year sa inyo and to all dear readers. Aminin nyo na kasi na pambabae ang type ninyong car, wala naman masama di ba? At least pinaghirapan nyo at di ninakaw. Cheers !

    1. Omg stay within topic. Stop mentioning that engine because it isnt within this segment.

    2. The Trailblazer/Colorado weights 2000+kg, whereas the compacts weight around 1200kg-1300kg, the lighter cars will leave your beloved chevy to the dust. Also, the 700kg+ additional weight will render the 12-45 difference in hp useless. Torque is only useful in the initial acceleration when you are lugging around cargo. Your brick won't stand a chance.

    3. I will smoke your colorado with my 1991 nissan skyline RB26DETT. 320HP, 0-100kph in 5 seconds flat.
      Merry Christmas.

  9. Anybody got any idea what's the ground clearance of this thing?

  10. I thought it will be fuel efficient being a turbo and ecoboost engine just like the Civic RS.

  11. At less than P1M with discount, this is more powerful and a steal compared to the overpriced Civic RS and the Mazda 3 Speed. It will be the same price as that of the underpowered 1.5l Mazda 3 and substantially lower than the P1.1M 1.8l Civic.

  12. yes ang honda civic nagtest drive ako parang toy car parang mabilis masira ba iba pa rin ang mga unang civic astig,,ford focus is much realiable when it comes to speed handling and engine handle mabilis ang response pagnasports ka keysa sa new civic nabibigatan sa body niya kasi lower ang power niya,,kaya yon naiiwanan,,hehe,,just got my focus im happy and satisfied naiiwanan ko lahat sa streets,,hehe

    1. The civic is actually faster than the focus. Check and compare their 0-100km/h.


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