Thursday, March 8, 2012

Titanium is the top-level Focus experience

This review originally appeared in the February 2012 edition of the Northern & Central California Cruisin’ News published out of Folsom, California – mg

Sacramento, California -- The Ford Focus started out as the economical American “everycar” to compete with the overseas big boys stealing that good ol’ USA market share.

The Focus has been overhauled for 2012 into a sleeker and dare I say downright sporty piece of American hardware for the small-car segment. But if you want something more than the Focus basics, you go straight to the seventh and most costly trim level – the Focus Titanium Hatchback.

That was my ride, a five-door model that felt significantly sexier than hatchbacks of old. Think of it as a Super Focus.

Even as the top-floor version, the tested Titanium’s starting price was a reasonable $22,765. My tester was somewhat obscenely dressed up with extras, bringing the bottom line on the sticker to $27,470. Not that I was complaining, mind you.

The sleek, cut-through-the-wind wedge look of my ride was accentuated with a dazzling Kona Blue Metallic paint job. It soaked up sunshine and threw it at you with sparkle. Bodywork rested on 18-inch alloy wheels. Rear spoiler, check. Seriously, the car looked race-ready just sitting in the lot.

A charcoal black leather interior was comfortable, the better to view a surprisingly sophisticated dashboard. Ford did not go cheap on the interior controls. They’re high-tech, and you feel satisfaction once you master them.

Safety and security perks were plentiful, including a rear parking-aid sensor. I’m starting to become a believer in these, given the sometimes terrible mistakes drivers make in their own driveways.

Rain-sensitive windshield wipers tell you that Ford was not thinking entry-level bare bones here. As for the optional automated parking system (adding hundreds of dollars to the bottom line), I can do without it. I’m old-school. I actually like to drive the car. If you need help parking along the curb, go back to driving school and save yourself some money.

On the fly, the 2-liter, in-line 4 engine with 160 horsepower performed admirably in most situations. No, it won’t blow off a rabid sports car, but you feel pretty good about a peppy power plant that delivers an estimated 27 miles per gallon in the city and 37 mpg on the highway.

Plenty of folks ran forward to hit me up for information on the car once I exited it, a sure sign that it was turning some heads. And believe me, this Focus does.

Keeping in mind that the 2012 Focus is an extensively reworked model and has all that high-tech SYNC system circuitry stuffed into it, know this: The right rear door on my tester refused to open from the inside, and the audio/nav/SYNC verbal-command system on my ride simply shut down early in my week with the car.

Blown fuse? Glitch? High-tech incompetence on my part? Not a clue, but you’ve been told.

Otherwise, I’d say this was a sharp Focus.

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