2012 Ford Focus SEL review, of course vs. TDI

Discussion in 'General Diesel Discussion' started by chittychittybangbang, Jun 20, 2012.

  1. chittychittybangbang

    chittychittybangbang Administrator

    Joined:
    May 23, 2007
    Messages:
    21,575
    Car:
    2006 Jetta TDI
    Location:
    CT
    I recently rented a new 2012 Ford Focus SEL 4 door so here are my thoughts and since this is a TDI site, how it stacks up against TDI. Sorry for no pics so google it

    Appearance
    Exterior:The car has a modern style with the current Ford design language. I think that the grille could use some tweaking to be less of a scowling bass-mouth but it looks fine. I noticed that the clear headlight lens protrudes far out to give the car a more square profile. I'm pretty sure this was done for aerodynamics because it looks very awkward. Think Nissan Leaf headlights and you'll know what I'm talking about. It's hard to see in pictures but if you get a rear 3/4 view, the front corner of the car is square. Nice visual trick because the overall appearance of the front corners are round. The taillights were a little overstyled for my taste but aesthetics are a personal matter. Right now, I think Ford and Cadillac have the best exterior design.

    Interior: The center console is a mess. There's buttons everywhere and the smaller display leaves a lot of empty plastic around it. The upgrade from it is a larger screen which fits the center display much better. I didn't have Ford touch but the radio functionality was fine. The steering wheel control buttons are very poorly designed. They have a center button with 4 directional buttons but the UP button is on the upper spoke of the steering wheel instead of the face of the spoke. To reach it, you have to reach your thumb above the spoke and press down towards the ground to use the button instead of on the wheel face and pressing forward like the other buttons. Major design mistake and one that will be noticed every drive. I don't think I have short thumbs: see->:thumbsup

    I really liked that it had dual zone climate control. Manual knob control works but how much cost does dual zone auto climate add to a car really? It should at least be optional or in an options pack. Not on the Jetta-Golf in the US.

    VW and Audi have among the best interior design of any car make. You might not be able to order leather on a Jetta anymore but the design and layout is still very good. My only complaint about VW's design is the integration of infotainment. They should use an Audi-style MMI controller instead of a standalone head unit mounted somewhat low. It should be mounted higher up for visibility and have a controller knob for safer and more responsive control.

    Ride and handling: handled fine. This car had about 7,000 miles and I didn't notice any unusual balance or handling issues. Ride was similar to Jetta. Light and good response. The car had electric power steering like all current 4 cylinder TDI and it was actually pretty good. Turn in and response were good. While this may not sound like a big deal, compare this to the last and current Prius - to say that it has floaty and disconnected steering would be praise. I drove a 2011 Prius for a week after the Ford and it was alarming how loose the steering was. While some people have trouble adjusting from the feel of hydraulic power steering to electric power steering, I've driven a bunch of electric power steering cars and after settling in, they all felt fine. The Prius felt shaky and loose to me the entire week. The ride is also much looser on the Prius. These issues are dealbreakers for me and is why I put up with any issues VW and Audi may have.

    Power: The car was a 4 cylinder and power was acceptable. Specs are 160 hp at 6500 rpm and 146 lb-ft at 4450 rpm. Coming from a 100 hp TDI, acceleration was comparable. The car didn't have much torque and it's pretty high up but the gearing really helped out. While my TDI only has around 177 lb-ft, it's all low and feels much stronger than in a comparable gas engine where it's higher up in the rpm band.

    Transmission: The car had Ford's Powershift, their version of a DSG dual clutch automatic. This one had a sport mode with shifter buttons on the shifter handle. I haven't driven a DSG in a while but I think the Ford actually shifted a little smoother, especially at low speeds. I could tell right away that it was a dual clutch auto even before looking it up online because of how it felt, especially in stop-go. There's a little bit of clunkiness compared to a slushbox auto when the car starts to move but the shifts are silky-smooth and fast while driving.

    MPG: The transmission had a big role in this. I could tell that in D mode it was lugging the engine whenever possible. In S mode, it was much more willing to hold the gear and downshift. I could have been my imagination but it may have had slightly better throttle response too. Either that or I was just driving it harder. The Powershift's gearing may improve mpg by up to 10% according to Ford. I was seeing about 42 mpg when trying for mpg, steady state driving. Mixed, normal driving, it got around 32 mpg average. I was thoroughly impressed with the fuel economy and since it runs on regular unleaded, I would give it a B+. (I reserve A for hybrids and TDI) Compared to a TDI which should get 40+ mixed normal driving, the advantage that TDI have over gas engines is shrinking.
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  2. chudzikb

    chudzikb Member

    Joined:
    Feb 3, 2011
    Messages:
    364
    Car:
    06 Jetta, 05.5 Jetta
    Was it big enough? Looking at rentals now for our summer trip west. Was thinking Focus, but, wife says something bigger? For a family of 4? And their stuff?
  3. chittychittybangbang

    chittychittybangbang Administrator

    Joined:
    May 23, 2007
    Messages:
    21,575
    Car:
    2006 Jetta TDI
    Location:
    CT
    I would feel comfortable with 2+2 but the trunk barely fit 3 carry on suitcases. Fusion would be a better choice if you want to get a Ford and since you sound like you'll be on the road for a while, Taurus would be even better.
  4. chudzikb

    chudzikb Member

    Joined:
    Feb 3, 2011
    Messages:
    364
    Car:
    06 Jetta, 05.5 Jetta
    Fusion might be the ticket. Not doing the cross country trip this time. Flying to Denver, then driving around. My TDI will miss the roadtrip. (last year Glacier National park, in my old MK IV wagon) So, limited stuff due to airline regulations on bag numbers and size.

    Thanks for the quick response.
  5. Eternalsolitude

    Eternalsolitude New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 14, 2012
    Messages:
    4
    Car:
    2006 jetta tdi
    The '12 focus is substantially better than the previous model(s). I was really impressed with build quality. Like when you open/close the rear door it actually feels well constructed, unlike any new Toyota out there, which feels like an empty baked beans can.

    The one thing that took some getting used to was the brake activated electronic clutch(on the auto model). But I suppose I can see the benefits of it.

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