A manual transmission gives you far more control and, in my opinion, the only true driving experience.
With a 2 litre petrol engine that puts out 145 BHP, the Focus Titanium gets from 0-100 km/h (0-60 mph) in 9.3 seconds according to the manufacturers, but I have to say they’re selling themselves short. If you’re the one sitting in this car with some pointless huge fuel-guzzling giant sitting beside you at the lights, have some fun. Rev the engine, nudge forward, look for the patronising smile ensuring that a sense of superiority is instilled in your rival and, as the lights turn green, laugh tyrannically as you leave your foe behind.
You wouldn’t think it possible with the performance figures quoted above, but believe me, I tested it and it works. Yes, I allowed myself to regress to the age of 24 when I got in behind the wheel of the Ford Focus. On the outside it may look innocent, especially the saloon version I was testing, but once you’re sitting in the driver’s seat you get a whole different impression.
With leather-trimmed racing seats, a three-spoke sports steering wheel, silver-trimmed black dials, a top-notch Sony 8-speaker sound system and a groovy little gearshift, the Focus feels a lot different on the inside than it does on the outside. It feels like a boy racer, and that’s how the Ford Focus Titanium crosses over from being a practical car about town that comfortably seats four people and has plenty of boot space into a sporty little fiend that’s a huge amount of fun to drive.
Now, I say it’s spacious on the inside, but when I first climbed in behind the wheel I felt a bit like a kangaroo trying to hide in a cupboard – my head was pressed against the roof and there just wasn’t enough legroom. I quickly found the height adjuster, which solved the headroom problem, but even with the seat all the way back still I was some way from a comfortable driving position. But then I found a little button on the front of the seat. I pressed it and felt things moving. It took me a minute or two to figure out what, but then I realised the pedals were moving away from me. Now that’s a nifty sort of trick I’ve never quite come across before.
These moving pedals mean that you can find yourself the perfect driving position, even when you’ve got legs as long as mine, without encroaching too much into the rear passenger space, leaving everyone nice and comfortable.
Ford boasts ‘Control Blade’ rear suspension in this car that, they say, allows the rear wheels to adjust independently of each other to bumps and undulations. Sounds good, and it is. The Ford Focus gives a smooth and comfortable ride, and handles very well around town. It can mount pavements with ease, but the bumper panel is a little low so be careful if you’re wanting to park up on a higher curb. Potholes and tram tracks, however, aren’t a problem, and the car corners easily without any roll.
This, as I said, is an innocent-looking car, so it’s not going to instantly catch the eye of any damsel digging for gold, but then again, it’s not a huge 4x4 and so removes any question of compensation on the part of the driver. This car conveys the message: Hey, I’m secure in all aspects of my character, and don’t need my car to say things I can’t. And that should be a persuasive argument for all but the most ardent money-grabber.
For the traffic jams, this car has an excellent sound system complete with CD and MP3 player, and there’s plenty to twiddle and play with to keep yourself occupied. Once you’ve battled your way through the gridlock and get yourself out onto the open road, the Focus does a grand job there as well. With a top speed of 210km/h (130 mph), it’s going to get you where you want to go as quick as safety requires.
All in all, I was well impressed with the Ford Focus. For an all- round family car, it covers all the bases and has a lot extra thrown in as well. The price tag of around $35,000 might be a little on the high side, but you get a lot of drive for your dollar.