We usually reserve the word awesome for outrageously potent, hip-high exotics that pump adrenaline to the sky while blasting seriously deep holes in the bank balance. But, all things being relative, the adjective also can be applied to the exceptionally capable Focus. Years ago, before he became Ford's product development guru, Richard Parry-Jones made the point that building a supercar is much easier than creating excellence for the millions. Later, he and his team tackled the tougher task so successfully that the Focus is now the world's top-selling automobile.
The Focus is immensely entertaining to drive and a thoroughly practical proposition for school runs, shopping expeditions, or urban duels. Out of town, few cars provide more fun on a road that's all snakes and switchbacks, challenges and rewards. The benchmark chassis blends a smooth ride with exceptionally precise, communicative steering, making this a car that flows from corner to corner. Dig deeper, and there's more grip than most of us will ever needexcept in an emergency, when outstanding agility may be the difference between life and death. The Ford's composure gives the impression that you have suddenly become a much better driver.
The Focus has matured beautifully since winning this magazine's 2000 Automobile of the Year award. What was originally a limited lineup for North America now has four body stylescoupe, four-door hatchback, sedan, and wagonand a starting price of about $13,000. This is a marvelously good car, period. Being so affordable is a terrific bonus.