The 2014 Ford Focus SE Hatchback left a remarkable impression on me after returning it to it's rightful owner the other day. With 160 hp and 148 pounds of torque bursting out of it's two liter 4 cylinder it packs quite a punch to leave you speechless. Not only is the acceleration quite good, so is it's steering, and suspension.
For a car weighing almost a ton and a half, the acceleration of the Focus SE is pretty adequate. You're thrown back into the seat while everything in the windscreen disappears thoroughly. The acceleration is linear while you plant your foot on the throttle. The six-speed automatic transmission takes you from 0-60 in a slight 8.3 seconds, that's if you are an aggressive driver. You would never know that when you are behind the wheel. But if some guy in a Volkswagen Gulf wants to overtake you on the highway, you can easily put him back in his place behind you.
The steering wheel in your hands feels natural to hold, especially when you like driving on roads that are not straight. The response from the wheels to your hands are there but just barely. This is made up with a tight steering rack that is sensitive, which is a good thing in this day and age. The slightest adjustment to the steering wheel meant the Focus was already entering any of the lanes on either side of you, but only if you were on the motor way, and you meant to adjust it as such. But in corners, the steering showed its true glory. When entering the curve you would turn the wheel where you needed to go around at the speed you were taking, and once you either needed to change direction to go into an opposite turn or a slight straight, the steering wheel would whip back at you and you could catch it to make the turn faster than having to spin the wheel back manually. Or you could just get into the straight without any adjustment.
As far as the suspension goes with entering, being in, and exiting corners, the weight of the Focus is distributed evenly and properly to keep the car balanced. It almost seems to dance or at the very least, swing it's hips to and fro. The Focus's sporty suspension combined with it's steering gives you the confidence needed to go around corners at higher speeds than usual cars. After driving the car, I can tell why it is a great competitor and as popular against it's Japanese and European counter-parts.
But like every car, the Focus has it's downfalls. Most of the time, you need to keep the traction control off to get the best driving experience and capabilities. The transmission does not know how to think when traction control is on. Or maybe this could be the car having reached 50,000 miles already. Speaking of traction control, it should not be difficult to turn it on or off. I would love to see Ford put a switch somewhere on the console that allows the driver to turn it on/off.
So if you want a cheap new car, that has great handling and decent horse power, save your money and get a Fiat.