It’s frustrating that many people in the USA continue to see the Ford Focus as a cheap, basic economy car. Maybe it’s a hangover from the small-car hatchback stereotype. Maybe it’s that Ford only recently begun to improve its image here. Given the features and available options inside the newest Focus, it’s anything but an economy car.
The Focus ST can be had with items that were only found on luxury cars not long ago. This includes a configurable 4.2-inch color screen in the instrument cluster, an 8-inch touchscreen (MyFord Touch), HD and satellite radio, a USB/SD media hub, a 10-speaker Sony stereo, dual-zone automatic climate control, Recaro seats, steering wheel controls, Bluetooth telephone and audio streaming, keyless entry, and push-button start. Pretty impressive.
Unfortunately, many of these features are not impressively integrated into the Focus. The steering wheel, for instance, features nineteen (!) buttons: five to control the screen in the instrument cluster, five for the audio system, five for the Ford SYNC system, and four for the cruise control. While the buttons aren’t too bad to use after some practice, there is simply too much going on; surely there could have been a simpler setup.
That theme continues with the frustrating MyFord Touch system. It’s just not a friendly or intuitive setup. The buttons are very difficult to use while the car is in motion and the screen is slow to react and change modes.
On the plus side, the MyFord Touch system conveniently handles a large amount of media including CDs, SD cards and USB connections—as well as a 3.5 mm aux-in plug. So, I bought a new 32 GB SD card and loaded on a bunch of music. The SD card has lived in the card slot in the center console of the Focus ever since (I have not added or removed music). The Sony system sounds great but, unfortunately, it regularly spends time indexing my music instead of allowing me to actually listen to my music. When this happens, I usually just switch to satellite radio. The problem is that there are times when the screen won’t react to any inputs and I’ll then be stuck on one satellite radio station, unable to change.
Luckily, you don’t need to fiddle with the climate control screen on the MyFord Touch system on the Focus ST, as there are separate, conventional controls for the HVAC in front of the shifter. They work great and the system keeps a comfortable temperature inside the cabin.
Even after a software update by the local Ford dealer, the MyFord Touch system continues to have glitches. It locks up on occasion and my iPhone 5 inconsistently pairs via Bluetooth. I regularly have to wait five minutes or longer after startup before I can make or receive calls over Bluetooth. At least when the phone is connected, there is good audio clarity during calls. Still, based upon my experience MyFord Touch needs a serious rehash. I am all for lower-priced cars getting technology from higher-priced cars, but only if it works.
The interior is nicely screwed together but the design is questionable. The deeply raked windshield makes for large A-pillars and a long dash, and the air vents and other details jut out toward the front seat passengers. I’ve mentioned in earlier blogs my issues with the Recaro seats. Basically, make sure you try them before purchasing an ST2 or ST3 model, as the seats are most definitely not a great fit for every body shape and they seem to take up a large amount of space inside the cabin. These seats and the dash design combine to give the Focus a somewhat contrived and claustrophobic feel inside, despite the car actually having good interior room.
Reading the above, you’d think that I don’t like the Focus ST. That’s not the case at all. I am really enjoying the performance and fun factor of this hot hatch. But I also see too many details inside where Ford seems to be trying too hard—or not hard enough in regards to MyFord Touch. It’s definitely not the economy car that some Americans think it is but I wish the interior featured better execution.