How do you improve one of the best Hatchbacks on the market? If you’re Ford you add a smaller engine.
The new 2019 Ford Focus has arrived and unlike the former range of four-cylinder Focuses (Foci? Focus’?, whatever) The new Focus is powered by a 1.5-litre three-cylinder engine.
It may be challenging for some people to believe that a three cylinder engine can push something the size of a Ford Focus at not only a normal but quite good rate of acceleration, but technology has progressed to the point where mechanical wizardry has created a 1.5-litre three pot engine that develops 134kW and 240Nm of torque.
That’s sufficient for a quite acceptable amount of performance and the eight speed gearbox makes for close gaps between each gear ratio. Then, if you get behind the wheel of the Focus ST-line with lowered and stiffened suspension you get an impressive amount of cornering grip and traction.
It’s best if you drive an ST-Line on smooth roads only as the ride quality is highly strung and the cabin judders and jumps on anything other than smooth tarmac. Unfortunately there are few roads in New Zealand that are very smooth.
But the good thing is if you choose another Focus in the range you get the same engine along with a more compliant suspension tune. I may be getting old but I do prefer a car that doesn’t try to force my internal organs out my mouth.
The cabin of the Focus is a nice place to spend some time in, as it looks good, feels solid and is filled with a range of electronic features including Android Auto, Apple CarPlay and the latest version for Ford’s SYNC3. The interior is pretty dark though, filled out in a range of black and very dark grey trim.
You get good lateral support from the front seats and in the rear there’s good head room and reasonable leg room for anyone up to six foot tall. There’s a good amount of room in the 443-litre boot, but there is a high load lip that makes lifting heavy objects in and out of the boot difficult.
While the new Focus has most, if not all, of the modern electronic safety devices, it also has post impact braking. If you’ve ever watched the ‘bad driving’ videos on Youtube (and you have), you will have seen a car collide with something and then roll on to be hit very hard by something moving at an impressive speed in the other direction. The 2019 Focus will automatically brake after a collision, helping prevent the often fatal ‘run on’ collision with something else.
The 2019 Ford Focus continues the history of Ford building an impressive car in both road dynamics, interior space and infotainment. There’s a much more powerful Focus ST on the way, but until then the 2019 Focus remains a fast, agile hatchback that will please most people.