2012 Ford Focus | road test

Posted on Feb 7, 2012 by

Quick Review

GoodGood Looks, quality, dual-clutch gearbox
BadBadSlightly cramped, rear visibility, 1.6-litre engine feels a little sluggish
SpecsSpecs125bhp 1.6L 4-cylinder engine, six-speed dual-clutch gearbox
PricePriceAED 72,000 as tested
RatingEditors Rating Three Star

Just last week I had a go in the new Chevrolet Cruze and found it to be an American car with potential to unsettle the Japanese supremacy in segment. This week, I find myself at the helm of another American . This time it’s the new 2012 Ford Focus, which adds more steam to the American onslaught against the Japanese market dominance in this segment.

Making its debut in 1998, the car in spotlight is the third generation Focus and is definitely the most important nameplate in Ford’s worldwide portfolio. Ford has sold over 10 million units since its debut.

Developed in Europe, Ford sells the Focus in over 120 markets worldwide with 80 per cent parts commonality. This latest generation Focus is created from Ford’s new global C1 segment platform, which was the largest platform programme on its launch in 2004. This platform programme was conceived in Europe and for the Middle Eastern markets; Ford sources the cars from its assembly plant in Saarlouis, Germany.

Design and interior

2012 Ford Focus

2012 Ford Focus

The 2012 Focus looks sharp and aggressive. A first look at the car will hold your eyeballs as they absorb the clean lines and creases of the car. Ford calls this new design approach – Kinetic design.

This latest iteration was designed at Ford’s design studio in Europe and needless to say, European styling certainly works in favour of this car.

At the front, the well contoured side panels and the trapezoidal grille looks significantly different from the outgoing model.  Sharp, upswept headlamps lose a bit of their cat-eyes feature made famous by the previous models but look sportier nonetheless.

In profile the 2012 Ford Focus has a coupe-ish silhouette and the tail lamp takes up quite a bit of space in the rear quarter panel.  The rear is clean and fuss free with minimal badging. The 2012 Focus is as European as can be and overall, the Focus gets an A for design and eye appeal.

Step inside the car and you will be greeted by a black, beige and faux-aluminum interior. The contemporary looks on the outside are carried on inside by way of a well-designed dashboard which is every bit as stylish as the exterior. The dashboard is very driver focused with the centre console housing a built-in single CD player, an infotainment display and vertically placed air vents.

The menu selection and the menu navigation keys take up a prominent position on the centre console and the overall feel and quality of the buttons is good but they lack that intuitive feel. Operating them with your eyes on the road could be tricky. However, the leather-trimmed steering wheel holds all the buttons necessary for managing audio and phone functions.

The Trend variant we drove also had an iPod, USB/AUX and Bluetooth connectivity that allows audio streaming. Another cool feature, which caught our attention, was the one-touch speed limiter. All you need to do is press the limiter button and set a desired speed. The car will not go over the set speed no matter how hard you floor the pedal. Now that’s a speeding ticket killer for me. Set the limit on your car just a bit below the road speed limit and go pedal happy to your heart’s content without worrying one bit about getting a speeding fine. Good thinking Ford!

Interior space for the driver and front passenger is decent but slightly cramped in the back, specially if you have a tall person sitting in the front. High marks for boot space though. Would have been better in our opinion to throw in a couple of extra centimeters in the rear seat area by trimming the boot space a bit. Visibility in the rear view mirror is also not that great due to the sloping roof line. Thick C pillars further hamper rear visibility.

2012 Ford Focus

2012 Ford Focus

Drivetrain and performance

Tarek, the beret-sporting gentleman from Ford’s PR agency handed us the keys of a 1.6-litre variant of the 2012 Ford Focus and not the 2-litre variant we were hoping for. Doesn’t matter, we will be getting our hand on the 2-litre variant soon, hopefully.

The 1.6-litre Duratec Ti-VCT engine produces 125bhp of maximum power and 159Nm of peak torque. This is not an all-new engine but is an upgraded version of the previous generation engine and it now meets the stricter international emission norms. Ford claims that the 2012 Focus consumes six liters of petrol per 100kms and by the way the needle dipped towards the south, we don’t doubt this car’s frugality.

All 2012 Ford Focus variants come with a six-speed automatic gearbox. The auto box lets you select either a normal drive mode or the sports mode. It also has a manual-shifting option via the SelectSwitch located on the side of the gear knob.  This dry-clutch PowerShift unit is claimed to reduce fuel consumption and has one clutch acting on first, third and fifth gear, and the other used for second, fourth and sixth gear.

2012 Ford Focus

2012 Ford Focus

The engine feels sluggish and the gearbox is constantly looking for the right cog at the slightest change in throttle position and this can get annoying at times. In a traffic light stop/start situation, the engine struggles to keep pace with expected acceleration, revving all the way above 4000rpm before any noticeable action can be felt.

Judging by the numbers, this car’s acceleration isn’t going to set anyone’s heart racing. It does feel under powered at times. Our GPS tracking system clocked 0-60 km/h mark at 5.4 seconds and the three-digit mark in 12.1 seconds.

Ride and handling

The ride is a bit stiff and that can be attributed to this car’s European origins. MacPherson struts handle shock absorbing duties up front and a multi-link set up manages things at the rear. The electric power steering feels vague and could be set to feel a little heavier. Steering sharpness is another thing that didn’t impress us much. Its not sluggish but neither is it super responsive like some of its Japanese rivals.

The Focus goes around corners without drama and spirited drivers will be impressed with its confident cornering ability, albeit with a slight but manageable body roll. The torque vectoring system ensures you have the right amount of traction at all times by applying a slight amount of brake to the inner wheel while cornering.

The 2012 Ford Focus displays very good highway manners for a car its size. NVH levels are kept well in check with hardly any engine, road or wind noise seeping into the cabin at high speeds. The brakes did an exceptionally good job during testing and 100kmph to a stand still happens in a matter of 2.9 seconds and that is really impressive. The car holds on well under intense braking and the 16-inch tyres provide adequate grip.

2012 Ford Focus

2012 Ford Focus


Driving around in a hatchback this size is very convenient. The rising practicality associated with hatchbacks is not without a reason. With most of us confined to city driving, this type of a car makes good sense when it comes to fuel economy, space, size and parking. All of us want a huge SUV but what most of us need is a compact car for running errands. The 2012 Ford Focus offers all the creature comforts offered by bigger SUVs and is an ideal car to drive around on a daily basis.

At a starting price of 65,000 AED the Focus is certainly pricier than Korean and Japanese rivals. Heck, Kia will even let you have an Optima for around this price and if you dig a little deeper you could even afford the Civic. The mid-range Trend variant will set you back by 72,000 AED. The Sport variant costs 82,000 AED and the top of the line Titanium will cost you 92,000 AED. What you get for those extra dirhams is distinctive styling and a premium feel.

2012 Ford Focus

2012 Ford Focus


Engine: 1.6L 4-cyl. engine
Max power: 125bhp
Max torque: 159Nm
Transmission: 6-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission
Drivetrain layout: front engine; front wheel drive
Weight: 1,270kg


As tested
AED 72,000 – Trend

Also available
 AED 66,000 – Ambiente
AED 95,000 – Titanium (2-litre)
AED 82,000  – Sport (2-litre)

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