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Ford takes us north to refuel and re-focus

A day with the new Ford Focus with EcoBoost

There’s never a bad time to take a break from the grind. That break came in the form of a daytrip to ‘go further’ and explore attractions in the north.

With an 8 a.m. call time, our group of eight motoring journalists met at Ford Balintawak for a 214-kilomter road trip to simply enjoy our ride for the day, the new Ford Focus 1.5L with EcoBoost, using either the route book or Waze to get to our destination.

Sans a convoy to follow, a casual briefing, and an extremely loose seven-hour schedule, our drive had only three stops — the Aquino Ancestral House of Conception, Tarlac; Abe’s Farm in Magalang and Nathaniel’s in Angeles, Pampanga.

  • FF!
  • FF3
  • FF2
  • Ford Focus Sport 1.5 EcoBoost at the Aquino Ancestral Home

Strength in (smaller) size

The new Focus is packed, which is why it’s also compact. Despite increased length and having a longer wheelbase compared to previous generations — it is shorter in height and width — both the hatchback and sedan versions of the new Focus are still shorter by almost 300mm than other models in its segment.

That, dear readers, could spell the difference between scratching a post or nicking another bumper in highly congested conditions on the road on in a cramped parking area.

Inside, the new Focus feels exactly the way it looks on the outside. It isn’t cramped by any measure but fits five like a glove — no more, no less.

One benefit to the compact interior is how easy it becomes to reach around the second row for various things on the seat, whether it’s office documents, bottled water or less healthy options like a bag of chips.

Parking sensors on all four corners of the vehicle allowed us to safely execute a three-point turn out of the tight parking space by beeping faster or slower depending on proximity to obstacles (posts, corners and other vehicles) around.

The Electric Power-Assisted Steering (EPAS) is light enough without deceiving you into thinking that you’re driving a Fiesta. Not that you don’t need to be careful but gauging breaks on the road, small openings and navigating weekday morning traffic was made a lot easier and hassle-free by its size or lack thereof.


Power and control

The new Focus comes with Ford’s highly acclaimed 1.5L EcoBoost engine that felt quite spunky whether on the NLEX or provincial roads.

Ford continues to bring driving fun with the new Focus. The handling and engine response is sharp and immediate, which allowed me to get a feel for the vehicle and have a great time behind the wheel.

Getting to the prescribed maximum speed limit was so easy, which would have made staying there extra difficult had it not been for its Cruise Control feature with Adjustable Speed Limiter.

The turbocharged powerplant comes with an aluminum block and also features high-pressure direct fuel-injection and twin-independent variable cam timing, which make it lightweight and very efficient.

Paired with a six-speed automatic transmission, its output of 180PS and 240 Nm of torque made being on the driver’s seat worthwhile as we easily, yet safely, overtook local traffic including PUVs, tricycles and the occasional roaming livestock.

The 18-inch alloy wheels did let in a bit of road noise in from a poorly asphalted section in Pampanga, but other than that, it held up pretty well against garden-variety NVH (Noise, Vibration and Harshness).

Tech-savvy, user-friendly

What made the drive less distracting was the amount of tech candy that does actually work in keeping your ‘focus’ on the road — and when it comes to things of this nature, Ford is second to none.

Crammed with highly innovative equipment for safety, ease of use and entertainment, the new Focus is a playground for the tech-savvy drivers.

The new Focus comes with SYNC 2 that pairs your mobile device to the system for hands-free use and also allows voice commands for access and control of the aircon, entertainment, navigation and the paired smartphone.

But what I like most about the Focus is how the layout of all controls and buttons make using it so intuitive and simple to a driver that it felt like second nature to me.


The drive home

The final 75.3-kilometer ride home got me thinking — the new Focus is up against really stiff competition but it does have a few things up its sleeve.

Its 1.5L EcoBoost has horsepower and torque figures that are above most in its class.

Voice recognition features are also better than the competition because Ford has been at it longer than the others.

And pricing, at PhP 1.278 million for the 1.5L Sport+ with EcoBoost, is at the same level as others in its segment, give or take a few thousands.

These are major factors that should never be overlooked. Notwithstanding the great package that it brings and even if it’s only for the reasons above, the new Ford Focus is already a great value for money purchase.