Short Take Road Test: 2008 Ford Focus SES
This 2008 review is representative of model years 2008 to 2011.
By John Phillips of Car and Driver
For 2008, Ford has freshened the Focus, a stop-gap measure until an all-new iteration arrives circa 2011. Styling is revised within and without, and the suspension has been retuned. Only a sedan and coupe survive-the wagon and hatchback have been euthanized-and the lone powerplant is a 2.0-liter twin-cam four producing 140 horses. It propels the Focus to 60 mph in 8.0 seconds, 0.7 second slower than, say, a Mazda 3 s Touring.
The base price begins at $14,695, but our option-laden SES coupe included leather seats ($695), ABS and traction control ($385), and the Sync system (standard on the SES, $395 on other models), swelling its as-tested price to $19,085, more than any Focus should cost.
The Microsoft-developed, voice-activated Sync allows hands-free communication and entertainment. Complex? Well, yeah, there's an 80-page manual, but the system, unlike your spouse, generally obeys commands without bitching.
Biased toward ride, the suspension is cushy even over Michigan's ravaged roads, but the downside is a tall, tippy feel. You get the sense that the squat Pirelli P6s have been left to fend for themselves for lateral grip, which is meager.
This interim Focus is, indeed, refocused-it's more solid and drives like a larger car. But it lacks personality and isn't ever particularly engaging. To torture a sports analogy, it's less a touchdown than a badly needed first down. In this junior league, the Mazda 3 and the new Subaru Impreza may well rain on the Focus's homecoming parade.
C/D TEST RESULTS: