Ford Focus Performance
The 2008 Ford Focus gets good reviews for its engine power and better reviews for its handling and driving dynamics. Some reviewers feel that thanks to some mechanical upgrades, the Focus drive has improved.
Acceleration and Power
The 2008 Focus comes with one engine option, a Duratec 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that delivers 140 horsepower and 136 pound-feet of torque. The revised engine gets positive reviews for providing plenty of power. Edmunds says the new engine "provides more than adequate torque ... so it never feels weak or sluggish to us," adding that it is "remarkably quiet at anything less than full throttle." About.com reports that the Focus has "plenty of zip, with power usefully concentrated at middle engine speeds." USA Today agrees, calling the engine "sufficiently, competitively powerful, though not a standout technologically, and a bit boomy sounding under hard throttle." The Auto Channel concludes that it's "a car you can drive just about as hard as the engine will allow and feel comfortably in control."
The Focus, with the four-speed automatic transmission, has an EPA-estimated fuel economy of 24 miles per gallon (mpg) in the city and 33 on the highway. The five-speed manual delivers 24 mpg in the city and 35 on the highway. About.com cites the EPA figures as "impressive."
The Focus comes with a five-speed manual transmission and an optional four-speed electronically controlled automatic transmission. Most reviews say both transmissions are easy to use. USA Today reports that the up-shifts and downshifts are "disciplined and smooth in the four-speed automatic and easy in the five-speed manual." About.com calls the manual transmission "an outstanding gearbox with great shifter feel and a light, easy-to-modulate clutch." Yet, Edmunds adds that that "four-speed automatic seems like little more than yester-tech of the 1990s."
Handling and Braking
For 2008, the suspension on the Focus is redesigned, and reviews say it provides an overall better ride and handling than earlier models. However, USA Today says that the Focus "felt agile and sporty at moderate speed, but lost composure at higher speeds in tight corners. Body lean became uncomfortable." The Auto Channel calls the new Focus "incrementally better as the body and chassis have been strengthened and stiffened." About.com reports that they took it "through the bends at a pretty good clip and was impressed by how well it clung to the road." Motor Trend adds that "the car rides with suppleness it lacked before." Edmunds says the 2008 Focus "feels stable and secure, more like a midsize sedan than a compact," and that the Focus' improved ride has "a feeling of quality compared to the harsh-riding Honda Fit or soggy Scion tC."
The 2008 Focus comes with power rack-and-pinion steering, which gets good reviews. USA Today calls it "responsive but not twitchy. Strong on-center feel but not dead or numb. Just about right." MSN adds that the "new Focus has the front-wheel-drive layout of its predecessor, but its handling is crisper."
The Focus comes with power front vented disc and rear drum brakes, with an optional Anti-lock Brake System with Traction Control. MSN reports that "Focus brakes have been improved .... The brake pedal allowed smooth stops because it wasn't touchy."