NEW FOR 2008:

– Redesigned exterior and interior
– Revised chassis tuning
– Standard side and curtain airbags, heated mirrors, stereo auxiliary jack, SIRIUS Satellite Radio
– Engine block heater now optional
– Standard tire inflation kit, spare tire now optional
– ST trim line discontinued
– 2.3-litre four-cylinder engine discontinued
– Available SYNC hands-free communication and entertainment interface
– Exterior colours: Light Ice Blue, Vapor Silver, Vista Blue and Silver Frost added; Screaming Yellow, Dark Toreador Red, Aqua Blue, CD Silver and Pueblo Gold deleted

For 2008, the Ford Focus undergoes a complete refresh, including new front and rear fascias, new wheels, new options and option packages, redesigned interior, thicker window glass and increased sound insulation, and lighter curb weight for handling and fuel economy. The Focus is available in two trim lines, as either a two-door coupe or four-door sedan; the traditional U.S. buyer’s horror of liftgates has resulted in the discontinuation of the popular-in-Canada hatchback and wagon models.

Exterior changes include new headlights, fender accents, hood, bumpers and fascia; new taillamps, trunk mouldings and wheels; the roof-mounted antennae is now moved to above the rear glass; and there’s a new two-bar chrome grille. Inside, there are new seat materials, instrument panel, gauges, centre console and steering wheel, and thicker window glass and increased sound insulation for a quieter cabin.

The two engine choices offered in 2007 have been pared to the previous model’s 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine, now rated at 140 hp to the previous 136 hp, but with the same 136 lb-ft of torque. Its five-speed manual transmission can be optioned to a four-speed automatic.

Features on the S coupe and sedan include 15-inch steel wheels, air conditioning, tilt wheel, split-folding rear seat, floor mats, CD/MP3 stereo with SIRIUS Satellite Radio, variable intermittent wipers, and low pressure tire warning.

The SE models add heated power mirrors, chrome door handles, power windows, and power locks with keyless entry.

The SES models add 16-inch alloy wheels, rear anti-roll bar, rear spoiler, cruise control, auto-dimming rearview mirror, heated seats, leather-wrapped wheel with audio controls, wireless connectivity with voice-activated controls, fog lamps, trip computer, traction control and anti-lock brakes.

Available options, depending on the trim line, include a six-CD/MP3 stereo with subwoofer, ambient lighting package, sport appearance package, heated leather seats, sunroof and perimeter alarm system.

Well-sized and with good handling, the Focus benefits considerably from its updates, especially its six airbags and the new SYNC system, co-designed with Microsoft, which allows seamless integration of communication and entertainment systems with the vehicle’s controls. Still, it would have been nice to get the European version, which is based on a platform shared with the Mazda3, and buyers who liked the Focus hatchback and wagon models’ size and practicality are now out of luck.

Connect with