Ford's evolutionary Focus

The 2007 Focus is the fifth generation version that Ford has introduced since the model's induction from Europe in 1999.

  • Choosing a car at dealership. Thoughtful grey hair man in formalwear leaning at the car and looking away

The 2007 Focus is the fifth generation version that Ford has introduced since the model’s induction from Europe in 1999.

Knowing there weren’t many changes from the 2006 model, I expected the same Focus with perhaps a few little under-the-hood changes.

I was pleasantly surprised, however, when I clapped my eyes (from a distance) on what I first thought was the SVT model. The 2007 four-door SE sedan tester came equipped with the all-new, rally-inspired GFX appearance package. The colour-matched front spoiler with mounted fog lamps and black moulded grille and air deflector gives the vehicle a far more aggressive appearance than it’s ever had before. The GFX package also includes a unique rear fascia with a black moulded diffuser insert, a conspicuous spoiler and a standout shiny steel exhaust tip.

Getting past the new GFX styling, the Focus itself hasn’t really changed much — it still comes with the same 4-cylinder, 2.0-litre Duratec engine, which now pushes out an ample 136 hp at 6,000 rpm. The main change to the drivetrain results in slightly improved fuel economy. Ford engineers tinkered with the engine management software and managed to squeeze an extra 0.5 L/100 km from the engine, bringing the fuel consumption to an affordable 8.7 city/5.9 hwy per 100 km.

The sedan is also still available in four trims: the base S, SE, SES and the sport-flavoured ST, which also has a bigger 151-hp engine, disc brakes with ABS and cosmetic exterior add-ons.

The interior remains much the same as the last model. My SE sedan model came adequately equipped with a six-disc CD changer and stereo system, which sounded great and helped take my mind off the dated looking, grey patterned interior.

Seat heaters were an added bonus especially on cold winter mornings, as was the leather-clad steering wheel. The telescopic wheel makes it easier to find a comfortable driving position, but the seat controls don’t complement this and make it a bit harder to achieve. The seats themselves offer ample support and after a long drive they’re still comfy. The back seats still offer a 60/40 split, but Ford hasn’t yet sorted the problem of having to fold the complete (100 per cent) seat cushion forward to enable the seat backs to fold flat. To use 40 or 60 per cent of the rear seating area as cargo space, you lose 100 per cent of the rear seating capacity, no matter which combination you choose.

The Focus still offers ample passenger space front and rear with all driver instrumentation easily readable and functional. There is more than expected legroom in the rear, presuming your front seat occupants are of average size. The trunk is roomy and capable of handling the vehicle’s full complement of passenger luggage. This particular model did not come with a remote entry system. To enter the vehicle I had to open the driver’s side door and hit a button to unlock the remaining doors. It’s a small thing, but becomes increasingly annoying when trying to retrieve something from the passenger side of the vehicle.

The Focus still handles well on the road. Gone, thankfully, is that annoying ring that had to be lifted on the manual gearstick to engage reverse. There is still noticeable torque steer when pulling away from a stand, but this could be attributed to a heavy right foot. The gears are smooth and unhindered going through the gates, which makes getting up to cruising speed on the highway easy.

The engine is lively and spirited, especially when matched to the smooth, 5-speed manual transmission. This is an excellent handling car — its nimbleness is aided by a fully independent suspension with McPherson struts up front and trailing arms in the back. The tight suspension becomes apparent when heading into a sharp corner — the car is stable with very little body roll. The Focus has a comfortable ride quality and relatively little wind or road noise for a car in this class.

Overall, The 2007 Ford Focus sedan was pleasing to drive with no major complaints. It is attractive, especially with the new GFX body enhancements, and is a tried and tested formula that has worked well for Ford over the years. But it is becoming dated, especially up against some of its competitors. The redesigned 2008 Focus will bring substantial changes, and hopefully this will bring the compact sedan in line with its European cousin.

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