The 2009 Ford Focus Coupe is an excellent economy car that features attractive fastback styling that will make you think twice about this car’s role as an econobox. Our Focus gives the impression of being a sports car with its Sangria Red metallic paint, large rear wing and rally inspired 17 inch premium dark painted wheels. However the exterior is only the beginning of the story, it was the interior of our $20,000 Ford Focus Coupe that made us fans of the well finished affordable method of transportation. It’s not the gauges or the synthetic door panels, but the Medium Stone leather seats and Ford’s voice commanded Sync audio system that earned our affection. These are two luxuries that you won’t find in many other $20,000 new cars.
Our Focus is powered by a 2.0 Liter Duratec 16 valve four cylinder engine that makes 143 HP when connected to a 5 speed manual transmission. The blue oval guys claim that the Coupe comes with a sport tuned exhaust as well as a sport tuned suspension, two things we thoroughly enjoyed listening to and putting through its paces. Despite the sporty nature of the Focus Coupe, Ford is already ready for the future CAFÉ standards because our car gets an EPA estimated 35 MPG.
However, no matter how good the Focus is, for some reason U.S. consumers have never been able to focus on the car’s highlights. You have to travel all of the way to Europe where the Ford Focus has earned multiple Car of the Year awards where these automobiles stand for value, sport and convenience. If only Ford could convince domestic consumers how good this car really is, perhaps next year wouldn’t be a Europe only model.
Continued after the jump.
The first thing we noticed about our Sangria Red Metallic Ford Focus was its sporty fastback shape, oversized wing and rally inspired wheels. Then it hit us, this new coupe from 2009 looks a lot like the Group A racing sensation the Ford Sierra Cosworth from the 1980s, however unlike the rally car, there is no turbocharger under the hood of our Focus and our car sends power to the front wheels, but that fastback slope and rear spoiler made our Focus resemble the modern classic Ford. One aspect where our Focus outshines the Sierra are the attractive 17 inch O.Z. style alloy wheels. Overall the body could benefit from a few interesting lines or bulging curves to break up the wide open spaces.
The Ford design team has chosen a few bits of chrome to go on the headlamps taillights, fenders and grill; these touches highlight the rather plain looking Focus rather well. The original Focus was a hit, at least in Europe. The original Focus was a fresh new idea, filled with curved fenders that accentuated the rounded body style. Our 2009 Focus, despite wearing the large rear wing and having a hint of Group B nostalgia is pretty boring. The flat body panels look like they were designed to accommodate the stamping process than to please the human eye. If you want to imagine what can be done with this platform, look at the Mazda3. The Focus design team needs to put something in their coffee to get them coming up with new ways to make an economy car look good.
The nicest part of our Focus coupe is that it came with leather, not on the doors or the dash, but just covering the seats is fine by the Top Speed scrutineering board, especially when you consider the price. Although they were sitting on a rather large electronic platform that just felt a bit too elevated. The interior of the new Ford Focus is meant for the Play Station generation. From the second you put the keys in the ignition, the Atari like chime will make you think that you are at the controls of a classic video game, the bright neon gauges only add to the arcade sensation.
There was an abundant use of plastic on the interior, the artificial polymer made up the majority of what you could see, and everything that wasn’t leather was most likely plastic. However, the designers did come up with a nice treatment in front of the passenger, the large painted piece is a very nice touch especially with the FOCUS engraving, giving the person riding shotgun something to entertain themselves on exhausting road trips. The interior designers were able to fit a lot of technology into the center stack, especially with the Microsoft SYNC voice command system, but it would have been nice to have a better way to communicate with the radio, but hey it’s an economy car.
The feel of the steering wheel just wasn’t right, the unit looked alright, but there was something about the thin leather wrapped rim or the rather elevated controls that made the instrument cluster look busy and aesthetically got in the way of enjoying the drive. However, once again you must ask yourself, “so what?” this is a $20,000 car and you are sitting on leather, nothing can be that bad.
The compact Focus with its five speed manual transmission is as fun to drive as any econobox with a cutch, if it weren’t for the soft leather seats you could get into trouble daydreaming that you are Collin McRae on a tarmac stage of the Rally of Great Britain. Our Focus coupe was fun to drive and handled well, the low profile tires and rather firm suspension were very large contributing factors.
It is always nice to have a clutch pedal when driving a moderately powered four cylinder, the added control lets you take advantage of the motor by keeping it spinning in its sweet spot. Very often a nimble chassis like the one in the Ford Focus is spoiled by an economic slush box that ruin whatever fun could have been had, thankfully that was not the case with our Focus coupe which had a good old five speed connected to a DOHC 2.0 Liter 16 valve four cylinder that cranks out 143 HP, once again, not bad for twenty large. Another reason to get the manual is that the automatic is down by 3 HP.
Why to Buy:
The number one reason that you should buy the Ford Focus is that you will be buying American and if you had bought this Focus, Ford wouldn’t have shut down their Wayne assembly plant where these cars are put together. At a time when, despite engrained misconceptions, the American automotive industry is putting out some of their best products ever, you can’t deny how good this Focus is for $20,000.
The Coupe is the car to buy if you want to portray a sportier image with you hard earned cash, the car offers a reasonably stylish exterior, with a well accommodated interior and leather seating for a reasonable amount of money.
Why not to Buy:
If you can afford to step up to something like a Mazda3, then do it. The Japanese variant shows off what a designer can do when they try. Honestly, by comparison, the Focus looks like we here in the U.S. just got lazy.
Toyota has always done well with dressing up their compact cars with touches like subtle wings and color matched body trim; the Corolla would be a perfect comparison when shopping for a stylish economy car, just like the Nissan Sentra would, despite it’s CVT.
The only other reason not to buy this car is because it is not a Ford Focus RS, although we dream of having this rally inspired hot hatch in the States, the 300 HP RS is destined for Euro-only roads.
Top Speed Final Verdict:
Our Sangria Red Metallic Ford Focus coupe was a good car, it still needs some work to be great, but leather for $20,000 is an excellent start. The rims are rather stylish and the wing could be secured by something more stable than double sided tape.
We’d like to see a version with increased displacement or one of those upcoming four cylinder ECO boost engines to make an outstanding automobile.