Fo­cus is on style and a wee bit of grunt

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - GOODMOTORING - GREG BAX­TER

ARE THERE any bad cars be­ing made these days? Well, as a jour­nal­ist, I must con­fess to hav­ing had a some­what neg­a­tive opin­ion of cheaper cars, as well as cars man­u­fac­tured in the East (ex­clud­ing Ja­pan).

My friend Jen­nifer drives a 1.2-litre car made in the East and I must ad­mit to hav­ing been pleas­antly sur­prised by her lit­tle car. At the end of the day, you get what you pay for.

Eight years ago, I bought one of the first Fi­es­tas with the new shape for R151 500. The press had raved about it.

To­day, a sim­i­lar Fi­esta is about R85 000 more ex­pen­sive and the baby cars cost pretty close to what I paid for my Fi­esta.

I have had the new Ford Fo­cus 1.0 Pow­er­shift for a week.

Hav­ing driven most of the new­gen­er­a­tion of Fords, I was not sur­prised by the qual­ity of the Fo­cus. It is no­tice­ably big­ger than my Fi­esta, with lots more legroom, es­pe­cially for rear seat pas­sen­gers. The boot space is big and deep and for a trip away the space should swal­low all your lug­gage with ease.

It feels well planted on the road and the brakes have a nice feel to them. Driv­ing on the free­way with the cruise con­trol ac­ti­vated is re­lax­ing.

Sound damp­ing is good, with lit­tle out­side noise mak­ing it into the cabin. I liked the muted-in­te­rior fin­ish. With a quiet in­te­rior, the qual­ity sound sys­tem could be heard eas­ily at min­i­mal set­tings. The 1-litre, 3-cylin­der mo­tor is a gem, as is the Pow­er­shift auto gear­box. The mo­tor is very re­spon­sive and the car is de­cep­tively quick for a 92kW 170Nm pow­er­train.

One thing I didn’t en­joy was the lane as­sist. It felt alien, es­pe­cially on bends on a free­way when one strays near the lines on the road. Still, I ad­mit that once one is used to it, the lane as­sist has the po­ten­tial to make one a bet­ter driver, as well as keep­ing one awake when the steer­ing feed­back kicks in.

A well-made Ford – quiet and com­fort­able and with enough oomph – it is a great all-round car. Great about town, with its stop­start fea­ture, park as­sist, warn­ing sen­sors and re­lax­ing with the cruise con­trol on the open road.

Fi­nally, the price tag: Am­bi­ent Pow­er­shift: R252 400, Trend Pow­er­shift: R270 900.

The quiet, comfy Ford Fo­cus has oomph and is a prac­ti­cal and great all-rounder.

The quiet, comfy Ford Fo­cus has oomph and is a prac­ti­cal all-rounder.

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