Automotive

Published on May 5th, 2016 | by Subhash Nair

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What Makes the 2016 Ford Focus So Special?

Very recently, Ford Malaysia and Sime Darby Auto Connexion launched the new Focus. The Focus comes in three variants here, namely the Trend – a base model 5-door hatchback, the Titanium+, a sedan with comfort tuned suspension and a beige-on-black interior, and finally Sport+, a hatchback with sports tuned suspension and grippy tyres.

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We recently took a trip with these Focus variants to the island of Penang. Our journey with the Ford focus demonstrated to us 2 things. Firstly, that it had managed to retain its fun character despite competing against some of the most practically-designed entries in the market.

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Yes, it still has got the edge in the handling department. It’s rare to see a car in the C-segment designed to show you a good time. The Golf seems to be the closest competitor in this department, but where the Volkswagen feels like it takes safety a bit too seriously, the Focus will still let you misbehave and get the tyres squealing without much convincing.

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This makes the Focus an extremely fun drive – even with Electronic Power Steering, there’s a lot of communication between the tyres and the driver. Stability Control takes a back seat, rarely having to offer assistance thanks to the superbly sorted chassis.

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It’s not all good news though – but for the right reasons. The previous Focus came with a dual-clutch transmission, which didn’t garner a very large fanbase thanks to the constant traffic jams in KL where most Focus drivers tend to reside. Ford decided to replace that with a conventional automatic. It can be manually operated with Paddle Shifters in the Titanium+ and Sport+ or using buttons on the gear selector on the Trend.

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The 6-speed automatic is no where near as quick shifting as a dual-clutch gearbox, but it is considerably smoother at low speed, easier to mend and less prone to failure. To be honest, it’s not too much of a let-down and quite understandable considering just how bad a reputation dual-clutch transmissions seem to have in Malaysia.

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Even with a conventional gearbox, that beautiful 1.5-litre Ecoboost engine still feels fully utilised and at home in the Focus. It has the most aggressive engine note in the segment – guttural and very much present in the cabin when you’re on the higher revs. It’s extremely powerful, with 180PS and 240Nm of torque on hand. This combination of power and responsiveness make the Focus a clear performance leader.

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The other thing we learnt was that the Focus is by a considerable margin, still the segment’s technologically-superior offering. Sure, it doesn’t have a couple of features that we’d love to see, but just a quick glance at what the range-topping models come with and you’ll see what we mean.

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You may have remembered this little thick from the pre-facelift model. It was amazing to see it on an affordable C-segment vehicle before, but now Ford have made it a lot more usable thanks to the inclusion of perpendicular parking, parallel park-out as well as a few minor refinements in the way the system operates.

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We’ve seen self-parking systems on plenty of premium vehicles before -but few seen to match the Focus’ease-of-use, which boils down to more extensive use of physical buttons and more a intuitive procedure. To engage the system, just click the button located by the gear selector. Each time it is clicked, the system cycles through the ‘Parallel In’, ‘Parallel out’ and ‘Perpendicular In’ modes. Once you have the mode you desire, engage the turn signal in the direction of the parking space or exit.

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From there you just need to follow the instructions as to which gear to select and operate the brake pedal. It’s as easy as that. Here, watch:



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Goodyear eagle 650x85(DSF)

The Focus ends up being a undeniably awesome entry into the Malaysian car market. The price tag of the Sports+ and Titanium+ models may seem a little steep, but for Self-Parking, SYNC 2, and a whole lot of other Ford goodies, it’s worth the upgrade if you’ve got the money.

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Otherwise, the Trend still has the same engine and transmission (minus the Sports tuned suspension and tyres), so you will get one of the best driver’s cars for under RM120,000.


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