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New look, new attitude

For 2008, Ford engineers rolled up their sleeves and reworked the previous Focus platform, giving us new styling in both sedan and coupe versions. The former hatchback and station wagon versions have been parked permanently.

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

For 2008, Ford engineers rolled up their sleeves and reworked the previous Focus platform, giving us new styling in both sedan and coupe versions. The former hatchback and station wagon versions have been parked permanently.

The reason the latter pair have been ditched is that Ford wants to expand the market for its compact Focus model to a younger buyer pool and feels the sedan/coupe option, coupled with fresh styling and features, is the road to follow to achieve that end.

The coupe version, the first-ever for the Focus lineup, has a pleasing but slightly more formal look than the sedan.

Compared to their predecessors, either of the new Focus body style is significantly better screwed together, quieter and better to drive.

The Focus’ exterior cosmetic work includes a distinctive two-bar grille, wrap-around headlamps, a revised rear-end treatment that makes it look lower and wider, plus some side touches that revisit the popular Mustang’s cues.

Inside, there are new seats and a redone instrument panel, a standard auxiliary input jack for personal audio units, standard side impact and curtain airbags, plus a new central console. The overall result is an attractive, uncluttered look.

Trunk volume is par for the class, but clever work on the trunk hood hinge design increases accessibility.

The cabin also contains lots of new stuff designed to appeal to its target (young, urban) market.

The AM/FM single CD/MP3 player features satellite radio, the previously mentioned audio input jack, and two 12-volt power points.

Another unique Ford feature is the optional Ford/Microsoft Sync system which allows complete MP3 player connectivity and Bluetooth phone integration — and everything can be very easily and simply selected by voice command.

Other options include a more powerful stereo, heated seats, leather trim, colour-configurable interior ambient lighting, 16-inch alloy wheels, ABS with traction control and a perimeter alarm.

Like the sedan version, a 2.0-litre, four-cylinder engine carried over from the ’07 model motivates the two-door Focus coupe.

While it still pumps out a useful 140 horsepower, fuel efficiency is improved due to revisions to the engine software, a more aerodynamic body shape, lighter overall weight and higher final drive ratios (in both the regular five-speed manual and optional four-speed automatic transmissions).

While the Focus retains essentially the same chassis as before, it offers a very decent ride thanks to revised springs, shock absorbers and bushings in the suspension system. The steering feels sharper and braking action (discs front, drums rear) is positive and sure.

Three trim levels are available: base S, SE and SES. Prices are similar to the sedan, staring at $15,999 and escalating to $17,399 for the SE and $19,999 for the SES. A Sport Appearance Package is available for $1,495

Since its debut, the Focus has endeared with its quick responses and polite road manners.

Now, with a jaunty coupe added to the mix, it’s a real driving treat.

BEHIND THE WHEEL

2008 FORD FOCUS COUPE

Type: Compact 5-pass coupe FWD

Price: $15,999 – $19,999

Engine: 2.0L L4 DOHC

Max HP @ RPM: 140 @ 6,000 rpm

Max LB-FT @ RPM: 136 @ 4,250 rpm

Highlights: Better ride and handling, tidy looks, great infotainment possibilities, quiet cabin.

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