When I started writing my sprawling take on the 2012-2018 Ford Focus, I originally intended to devote a portion to my personal experience owning one. Then the article grew well past 1,500 words and I decided against it. That is why this piece exists: To fill in the blanks. Consider this the equivalent to something like the director’s commentary you’d find on a Blu-Ray.
It may be too self serving to write about the Focus so soon after the Future CC, and the month of September may end up featuring too much Focus-related content, but the third generation compact did not have a typical product run and it’s entirely possible that the ongoing class action lawsuit renders a significant judgement against Ford. The company recently warned investors that a judgement for the plaintiffs could result in a $4 billion liability. That doesn’t mean all Powershift owners will get their vehicles bought back or a lifetime warranty extension, but it’s not crazy to assume something along those lines will happen, especially if more damning information is made public. And if it does, the lawsuit could potentially be spoken about in the same vein as Dieselgate, at least when it comes to buyer restitution.
I certainly hope my warranty is extended. Not that I’ve had any problems with mine. It behaves exactly like you’d expect a dual clutch to operate. Jerky and a bit unpredictable below twenty miles per hour but quick and crisp at higher speeds. My concern is what happens after February 2020, the month when my warranty extension runs out. If I’m unable to secure a set of replacement clutches on Ford’s dime (and I do plan to bring it in soon to see if it qualifies) I will be far less willing to keep the car beyond that date.
That being said, my Focus has been pretty much trouble free. Aside from oil changes ($40 at the dealer gets me an oil and filter change, fluid top off, and tire rotation) I’ve only had to shell out $17 to repair a tire. I did discover a nearly empty coolant reservoir last summer, which you can see above, but I’m pretty sure that was due to me not screwing the cap back on all the way. I bought a container of coolant and topped it off and it hasn’t dipped below that level since. At 26,000 miles, the car is still pretty new, but it’s also almost seven years old. It will need a new battery within the next year and I might have to replace the tires soon too. I’ve replaced the cabin air filter twice and the engine air filter once.
In spite of the transmission drama I continue to enjoy driving the car. The car trades some on-road smoothness for excellent composure over road imperfections. Torque vectoring is not a gimmick and it supplements an already competent suspension around curves. It eagerly enters turns and rarely protests. The electric power steering is much better than its contemporaries but not perfect. It doesn’t transmit much road feel into the car but the chassis makes up for it. And turning the wheel does give progressive build up and feedback, which is what really matters. I’ve never really wanted more power from the 2.0 Duratec either. The Focus really does operate like a European car. It’s how the Jetta used to behave before Volkswagen Americanized their non-performance oriented trims. Given its development took place in Germany, that shouldn’t come as too much of a shock.
It makes sense that Ford felt the Powershift was necessary in the Fiesta and Focus. The car gets good mileage. A minimum of about 29 mpg around town and I routinely get 40 and above when I take it on long distance trips.
As for features, I’m completely fine with what I’ve got, with one exception. The seats are nice but they kind of harden after an hour and a half and become uncomfortable after that. Also, I never use the moonroof and would have skipped that option if I knew the car would suffer from creaking related to the headliner in models equipped with it. Apparently, it’s an easy fix and only requires some tape to fix, but I’m always hesitant to fool around with something like that in fear that I’d make the situation worse.
Downsides? Rear leg room is minimal. Not really a problem for me as I rarely have more than one passenger in my car, but as you can see with the front passenger side seat, anyone taller than me will adjust their seat to the point where a rear occupant will probably find conditions in the back untenable. I also think the car could have used more sound insulation because wind and tire noise is a tad high. All three of these issues were apparently addressed in the 2015 refresh.
Although a bit crude by today’s standards, I have no problem with “Sync with MyFord,” as the company calls it. Bluetooth phone quality is great and my phone is never dropped from the system. My fourth gen iPod Touch also works very well with the car, and Sync’s voice recognition system is a valuable asset as it allows me to access anything in my iPod without using the device itself. The system even recognizes titles of playlists.
Ergonomics are good. The center stack is a little busy, but I rarely interact with those buttons. For audio functions it’s the steering wheel that houses the buttons I need. Sync is activated via a button that would serve as a paddle shifter in other cars. I’ll take that over a paddle button any day. It just works so well in that spot.
Would I recommend the Focus? Yes and no. It’s too risky to get one without a warranty, and it seems like the Focus has retained a surprising amount of its value even with everything that’s going on. A five speed manual equipped model is probably your best bet but definitely check out the seats if you actually think about buying one.
If I had to do it all over again, I would have probably picked something else, but I don’t regret my purchase. In fact, if I do end up replacing the Focus soon, it will probably be with a fellow Global C platform car. The C-Max really calls out to my inner geek. It isn’t terribly good looking but it’s just as quick, retains nearly all the great ride and handling characteristics of the Focus, and it gets good mileage to boot. Plus, they’re incredibly cheap because no one wants them.