Text: Martin Aguilar / Photos: Martin Aguilar | posted March 29, 2016 17:41
The C-Segment dark horse
It's no secret that the Japanese has long been dominating the country's C-segment with the Toyota Altis, but Ford is determined to challenge the former's supremacy with updated Focus sedan for 2016.
Launched last November 2015, the new Focus is described as a smarter and more powerful vehicle as compared to its predecessor and it comes with a revamped exterior, updated tech and a new engine. For this review, Ford handed us the keys to the 2016 Focus' range-topping variant — the Titanium+.
Aesthetically, Ford's 4-door sedan features an angular and sharpened exterior, which gives the car an aggressive profile overall. Its styling is in line with the company's global design theme, which consists of a trapezoidal honeycomb-shaped grill, sweptback headlights, a large bumper and elongated fog lamps. Following the "corporate look" of recent Fords, this explains why the fascia looks similar with the Fiesta. The Focus' aggressive exterior works for me but it could have been better if this car was equipped with HID headlights rather than halogens, as most of the cars in the segment have them as standard.
Turning at the side, this Focus comes with straight character lines that further emphasize the vehicle's angular look. It also has a sloping roofline, muscular wheel arches and a set of 18-inch Y-spoke alloy wheels. Moreover, the exterior mirrors are fitted with integrated turn signals.
The rear looks bolder and more unified compared to its predecessor, thanks to the revamped taillights and restyled trunk lid. The 2016 Focus also has a trunk-mounted spoiler which adds a little touch of sportiness. In addition, the taillight cluster features slimmer indicator lamps which I find more pleasing to the eye.
Inside, the 2016 Focus features a black and beige two-tone theme with silver accents; the interior fit and finish felt as relatively good as the new generation offerings. As for cabin space, the Focus could comfortably accommodate 4 adult occupants. Rear passengers are greeted with ample head- and leg-room. The cabin also gets soft-touch plastics and a red ambient light that should have been white instead to better compliment the beige interior. On the other hand, this Focus offers good visibility which comes in handy when driving through tight spaces.
The 2016 Focus has six-way power adjustable front seats, a three-spoke tilt/telescopic steering wheel and dual-zone climate control. Of note, the biggest change with the Focus' interior is found in the dashboard, specifically the center console. It now has less buttons which give the vehicle's cabin a simple yet elegant look. Despite having less, Ford didn't compromise its functionality as they integrated it with the essential buttons, such as volume and audio controls, audio source, among others. Placed right in the middle is an 8-inch infotainment touchscreen with Ford's SYNC 2. However, the 8-inch screen doesn't offer a rear view camera, unlike its competitors.
The lack of a rear view camera is somewhat compensated by the enhanced 'Active Park Assist', a system that helps the driver when parking. The said system works in both parallel and perpendicular parking. When engaged, the system starts by helping you identify a suitable parking space. Once the system finds a parking space, a notification will appear on the 8-inch infotainment screen. Then, when you shift into reverse, take your hands off the wheel and let the system park your vehicle. You need to control the braking, though. I was able to test this feature a number of times and it sure did put a huge smile on my face. However, on certain occasions, the system has a difficult time in identifying a suitable parking space.
Under the hood, the 2016 Focus Titanium+ is powered by a 1.5-liter EcoBoost gasoline engine that puts out 180 PS at 6000rpm and 240 Nm of torque between 1600 to 5000rpm. It is mated to a new six-speed automatic transmission which replaces the dual-clutch gearbox.
In the city, the Focus is easy to drive due to its light steering and handling feel. Driving through tight streets was a breeze thanks to its maneuverability. Response from the engine felt immediate and direct. The engine shifts at 1500rpm with relatively little lag, a testament to Ford's refined EcoBoost power unit. Moreover, this Focus has enough grunt to take on hilly and steeply inclined roads. In terms of ride, the vehicle's suspension leans towards the firm side, but the overall comfort is not compromised as it can absorb uneven road surface and potholes within reason. However, crawling through Metro Manila traffic allowed me to only register a fuel economy of 6.6 km/l while driving at an average speed of 14 km/h.
On the highway, the 2016 Focus delivered the goods and the 1.5L EcoBoost engine impressed further. The engine shifts smoothly and efficiently while power and torque pull can be felt between 2000 and 2500rpm. This, along with the new six-speed automatic gearbox, allows the Focus to deliver swift overtaking. While it is a responsive and agile car, Ford needs to look into or improve the Focus' tire noise which is audible at highway speeds. In terms of fuel economy, the 1.5L EcoBoost engine delivered 17 km/l while driving at an average speed of 90 km/h on the highway.
Overall, the 2016 Focus Titanium+ is packed with revamped technologies and a new engine that could lure you into choosing the underdog of the local compact sedan segment. The Japanese may have dominated the said class but, Ford is determined to fight back with the 2016 Focus. With its aggressive exterior, improved infotainment, upgraded tech, enhanced handling and a new engine, the Focus seems ready to take on the challenge and be the segment's dark horse.