Second Look: 2012 Ford Focus

Jeffrey Jablansky

The febrile success of the Fiesta models in the B-segment gave Ford insight into how to guarantee a repeat performance in the C-segment. The formula: Give buyers in the smallest, cheapest segment the same upgraded technology found in larger, more expensive models. Ford's Sync voice-activation technology, still regarded among the most user-friendly systems on the market, made its debut in the 2008 Focus lineup. The latest in Ford's arsenal of infotainment systems, MyFord Touch, elevates and integrates Sync technology as optional equipment on the top-tier 2012 Focus models. Owners of everything from luxury cars to pickup trucks are migrating to the C-segment, Kaufmann said, and Ford is looking to continue to give customers a familiar level of equipment.

As part of a strategy to brand the hatchback as a premium product, the Focus will be offered in four trim levels, but the hatchback will only be available in the upper-echelon three. All trim levels, from the base S sedan and up, include power accessories, an aux jack, and stability control as standard equipment. Buyers can select Sync as a $395 option in SE trim (base-spec on the hatch), and it comes standard, with additional audio and convenience features, on the SEL trim and higher. Top-level Titanium models receive standard MyFord Touch, in addition to 17-inch wheels and keyless entry/ignition. Available active park assist, a rear view camera, and ambient interior lighting are all reminders of the Focus's redefined position in Ford's lineup and within its class.

Larger, sleeker, and more powerful, yet stronger and 40 mpg
The 2012 model is larger in all dimensions over its predecessor, save for a one-inch-lower roofline. The 104.2-inch wheelbase is within an inch of the current U.S.-spec model, while width and track grow by more than three inches to match those of the Chevrolet Cruze. Ford has high hopes for the Focus' sole powerplant, a direct-injection 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, estimated to produce 160 hp and 146 pound-feet of torque. (A torquey, turbocharged variant will power the upcoming ST model.) A five-speed manual transmission is standard, but Ford expects most buyers to opt for the six-speed Powershift dual-clutch transmission, available with push-button manual gear selection. Focus chief engineer Jim Hughes noted that automatics typically find favor with 90 percent of American customers, who will likely see 40 mpg on the highway in that configuration.

Wow! Good looking at any price! Fabulous looking at C segment price!
Edward A. Sanchez
I'm holding out for the ST. Actually hoping a PowerShift option will be announced for it eventually.

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