We really do have a soft spot for the Ford Focus 2.0 Sport hatchback ever since Ford Philippines launched it back in 2012. The main reason for that is because the Focus Sport is one of those rare cars that marries many of the things we like in a real driver’s car: design, performance, handling, technology and more.
Now Ford Philippines has updated their top spec hatchback, and we take it for a spin to see if it still delivers the goods.
Design-wise, the Focus Sport is sharp and exciting to look at. Ford worked to style a hatch that appears ready and willing to be driven. The large lower grilles and vents with a large louver have a sense of aggression and sportiness, while the wide and low stance of the body give the car that hot hatch look. Details such as the LED DRLs, the large 17-inch wheels, the flaring and even the Z character lines stand out; in a nutshell, this car looks like it’s just itching to get moving.
For this 2015 model, Ford has upgraded the interior of the Sport+ with better trim pieces and materials, most notable of which is the leather upholstery as previous Sport+ variants had fabric seats. The driver’s seat has also been bumped up a notch with 6-way electric adjustability. Other than that, the cabin remains the same, tech- and button-loaded interior that the current generation Focus has been known for.
Apart from the standard power features, headlining all that technology is Ford’s SYNC system; a unified infotainment unit that makes use of Bluetooth, USB input, aux-input and has intuitive voice recognition. Press a button on the steering wheel and you can tell the Focus to play a track, select a playlist or even call mom, or the wife.
The seats are more snug than your average compact car and that’s due to the sporting nature of this top-spec variant. One thing we particularly thought could use a bit of attention was the width of the center console; it’s so wide that it eats up into the knee room for the driver and front passenger. Also, rear legroom isn’t a particular strength of the Focus line, a disadvantage given that the competition are getting longer and roomier inside. Nevertheless, the versatility of the hatchback means that the Focus can accommodate larger cargo if the rear seats are folded down.
At the heart of the Focus is one of the best naturally aspirated 2.0-liter engines in the market. The 2.0L Ti-VCT is a twin-cam, 16-valve, inline four that delivers 170 horsepower and 202 Newton meters of torque; only the 2.0-liter engine in the Subaru BRZ/Toyota 86 is more powerful in the country. The transmission of the Focus is a 6-speed dual clutch automatic, and that makes for some fast and smooth shifting at speed.
Out of town and on some backroads the Focus Sport+ excels. The handling and the performance of the car is hard to match in its class, and that’s because this one has a sport suspension (sedan variants of the Focus have standard dampers) that allows it to turn in more aggressively and for better body control. This variant of the Focus also gets torque vectoring, meaning the car’s computer intelligently applies the brakes of the inner wheel to distribute more power to the outer wheel, making cornering easier.
The engine and transmission are also great on the Focus Sport+ if you’re on an open road. The shifts are smooth and quick, while the power afforded by the engine is more than enough to have some fun with. There are drawbacks though; as fun as the Powershift dual clutch is on the open road, it can be annoying in the city. The gearbox isn’t very smooth in urban speeds and stop/go traffic; a shame since that’s where cars tend to spend most of their time.
Nevertheless the 2015 Ford Focus Sport+ remains as fun as can be. It may not be my first choice in the market if you’re after comfort, but if you like to drive fast and have your kicks on winding mountain roads, the Focus Sport+ is the closest thing we have to a hot hatch for the price.