2014 Ford Focus SE. Click image to enlarge
Review and photos by Tom Sedens
When Ford released the new Focus, they had a bit of an uphill struggle ahead of them. The previous generation had a negative impact on a lot of folks who suffered under the yoke of ownership, beset with a myriad of quality issues. My sister-in-law had one and went through a painful ownership experience similar to many other Focus owners she met along the way. Chronic mechanical problems, never-ending electrical gremlins and a body that quickly started rusting in the strangest spots made the previous-generation Focus a turd that couldn’t be polished to some.
Enter the “new” Focus. It arrived on our shores as a 2012 model and was a revolution in terms of interior and drivetrain refinement for this class.
When it comes to the exterior styling, the Focus draws on what Ford calls “Kinetic Design” language, which talks about the flow of energy, blah blah blah. Subjectively, I would say I appreciate this styling direction. It’s a sleek, modern take, adding character without taking too many risks that might alienate buyers. As an aside, I much prefer the hatchback’s styling over the sedan’s.
The front end looks like it means business with its aggressive trapezoidal grille treatment, slightly restyled and cleaned-up headlight pods and nicely integrated foglights. I really like the rear end of the hatch – it has a little roof spoiler and just the right kind of curves to make it interesting, though the huge wraparound taillights can’t be missed and are a bit much for me. It’s a sleek package and I think it still works well a few years down the road.
My SE had very handsome carbon-coloured 17-inch rims and looked stunning in Performance Blue.
The new Focus started Ford’s revolution of raising the bar in its interiors. Much of the competition has caught up now, but it remains a nice place to be. Any parts of the dash you can reach are soft touch plastics and the fit and finish seemed to be outstanding. Unfortunately everything on the door panels (short of a small upholstered panel) is hard plastic and this part of the cabin comes across as cheap. The styling is a bit busy – there are a lot of things going on, but overall, it’s a decent interior. I’ve complained about this in other Fords lately – everything is black (with the exception of a few bits of brightwork) and it starts to feel a bit sombre in there. The colour of the ambient lighting can be changed – that seems hokey, but was a source of endless amusement for our kids.
The Focus’s manually adjustable heated fabric seats were very comfortable and equally supportive – I was very impressed with them. I was less impressed with the headroom up front – drivers much taller than my 5’10” might find things getting tight. My tester had the MyFordTouch system, which handles your phone, media, navigation and climate control. The interface remains somewhat busy and not as intuitive as I’d like and although the system has ample potential, it’s not there yet. It’s controlled through the touchscreen and a couple of hard buttons and control knob below it. As it has been from day one, one of my biggest complaints with the system: it’s basically impossible to use MyFordTouch without completely taking your eyes off the road.
The stereo is a Sony-branded system – it has a sizable subwoofer in the trunk and sounds really, really good. Audio sources are AM, FM, satellite radio, USB and Bluetooth streaming.
2014 Ford Focus SE. Click image to enlarge
The wide centre console is not padded so if you rest your knee against it (like I do), it can be uncomfortable. It’s home to a traditional parking brake, the gear selector and dual cupholders – which are directly behind the 12V plug and seat heater controls, allowing uncovered beverages to splash all over these things. With that said, thank you Ford, for not burying the seat heaters in MyFordTouch and giving us actual manual controls.
Driver technology consists of front and rear parking sensors with audible alarms, a back-up camera with excellent trajectory lines and the infamous ParkAssist which will do almost everything for you when it comes to parallel parking with perfect results every time.