Ford looked to Europe for a nifty small car but the diesel auto was a flawed Focus
THE market was in a state of transition when Ford released the LV Focus in 2009. Buyers were turning their backs on the big cars that had been so popular for many decades and switching to smaller models such as the Focus.
Other companies were well placed with a range of small and medium models but Ford — having based its businesses on the bigger cars, as had Holden — had to adjust to the new market norms.
Having ready access to a range of European models, Ford was better placed than Holden to make the shift, but it was still a major challenge for the local arm of the global giant.
The European Focus had great road manners, with responsive and agile handling, and should have received more attention than it did. The extensive model range included hot hatches and sporty models but we’ll deal here with the models that appealed to the broader market.
Roomy for their size, the four-door sedan provided conventional security and the five-door hatch had practicality as its strong suit.
The petrol engine in the CL and LX was a 2.0-litre four that delivered all the performance needed for a car if its size, while the 2.0-litre turbo diesel four in the TDCi produced ample torque but returned miserly fuel consumption.
Transmission options for the petrol engine were five-speed manual or a four-speed auto. The diesel drove via a six-speed manual or a six-speed dualclutch auto.
All variants had a good array of standard features, including aircon, cruise control, power windows and mirrors, fourspeaker audio and front fog lights.
Buyers were treated to fivestar safety thanks to ABS, electronic brakeforce distribution, traction control, and front and side airbags. In addition, the diesel had stability control.
The diesel Focus has been plagued with problems with its dual-clutch automatic, the socalled “Powershift” transmission. Petrol models employ a regular automatic.
When test driving a diesel with Powershift, take particular note of any hesitation on takeoff, shuddering on acceleration and missed gearshifts.
If you detect anything that seems wrong walk away and consider buying a manual model.
The LV Focus was built in South Africa and it appears that the build quality was of a lower standard than if built in Europe.
Plastic trim parts tend to break and come away and the paint tends to fade and peel in time.
The petrol engine and its transmissions behave well and give little trouble, and that’s clearly the best route to choose when considering a Focus.
Check for a service record to make sure your potential purchase has been well treated.
Jack Westfield All round, my 2010 LX has never given me any trouble mechanically. The thing I dislike the most is the park brake being on the passenger’s side, the worst thing that has happened is that the paint has started to peel in various places.
Roy George We have two 2010 LX auto Focuses in the family. My wife’s has done 75,000km, mine has done 60,000km, and we haven’t had any trouble with them at all. They are well balanced, handle well, have good brakes and ride smoothly.
Grant Burgess I only had one issue with my LV Focus, and that was with the central locking actuator. It was a petrol manual and both the engine and gearbox were great and gave no trouble at all.
Trent Alford My 2010 TDCi has been a disaster, with problems with the transmission, electronics, and the radio. My experience was made worse by the dealer
mechanics who didn’t seem skilled in working on these cars.
Richard Rogers I bought my LV LX new in 2010 and apart from a little road noise it has been great.
Megan Edwards I bought the Focus because it was cheap and I could afford to pay cash for it. I have done 60,000km in it and I have not had any mechanical problems.
Good driving car with European flair but dodge the diesel with dual-clutch auto.