2012 Ford Focus Titanium hatchback
2012 Ford Focus Titanium hatchback. Click image to enlarge

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Ford Motor Company of Canada

Review and photos by Greg Wilson

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2012 Ford Focus

All new this year, Ford’s compact Focus offers sportier styling, improved handling, better fuel economy, a new interior with more high-tech gizmos, and the return of the hatchback bodystyle (last seen here in 2007), as well as the new sedan bodystyle.

Unlike the previous North American Focus which was different to the European Focus, the new Focus is a world design that is sold in multiple countries – although Focuses for North America are still built in Wayne, Michigan. Ford says its design-goal was “to meet the universal needs of worldwide customers while fine-tuning to suit regional preferences.”

At least part of that “fine-tuning” for the U.S. and Canada includes new safety, communications and entertainment technology, such as MyFord Touch screen controls, voice-activated climate and audio controls, Sync hands-free phone and entertainment system, rear-view camera, parking sensors, and Automatic Parking Assist – the latter available for the first time in a compact car.

2012 Ford Focus Titanium hatchback
2012 Ford Focus Titanium hatchback
2012 Ford Focus Titanium hatchback
2012 Ford Focus Titanium hatchback. Click image to enlarge

There’s also new technology under the hood where a completely new 2.0-litre DOHC 16-valve four-cylinder engine with gasoline direct injection and twin independent variable camshaft timing (Ti-VCT) replaces the old Duratec 2.0-litre engine. The new 160-hp engine offers 20 more horsepower and a 10 per cent improvement in fuel economy when compared to the previous engine.

As well, a new six-speed “PowerShift” automatic transmission with manual shift mode replaces the old four-speed automatic transmission. A five-speed manual transmission continues to be the standard tranny.

The 2012 Focus sedan is available in four trim levels: S ($15,999), SE ($18,999), SEL ($21,499) and Titanium ($24,499) trim. The Focus hatchback comes in three trim levels: SE ($19,899), SEL ($22,399) and Titanium ($25,099) – the latter comes with a six-speed automatic transmission as standard equipment. 2012 MSRPs have gone up by about $500 to $1,000, except for the base S sedan which has jumped in price by $2,000.

This week’s test car is a top-of-the-line Focus hatchback Titanium ($25,099) with an additional $4,430 worth of options including a two-tone leather interior, 18-inch alloys, sport suspension, navigation system, automated parking system, moonroof, and power driver’s seat. The as-tested price, including Freight of $1,450, came to $31,079

Driving impressions

The Focus’ new 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine pumps out 160 horsepower at 6,500 rpm, a big improvement over the previous 140 horsepower engine and better than its competitors with similar-sized engines, such as the Hyundai Elantra Touring and Kia Forte5 2.0. The new Focus hatchback even beats the Toyota Matrix with its 158-hp 2.4-litre engine. However, the Focus can’t match the Mazda3 Sport (168-hp 2.5-litre four-cylinder engine), the Dodge Caliber (172-hp 2.4-litre engine), the Kia Forte5 (optional 173-hp 2.4-litre engine), or the Volkswagen Golf (170-hp 2.5-litre five-cylinder engine).

In particular, the Focus’ smaller engine can’t muster as much torque as it larger displacement rivals: its 146 lb.-ft. of torque compares to the Matrix’ 162, the Mazda3’s 168, Dodge Caliber’s 165, Kia Forte5 2.4’s 168, and the Golf’s 170 lb.-ft. The Focus’ engine, while high revving, isn’t as responsive as its competitors in mid-range acceleration and passing power, though it’s certainly not underpowered.

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