Ford Focus Named
2012 International Compact Car of the Year
- Most Spirited -
by Road & Travel Magazine
Ford Focus Road Test Review
by Martha Hindes
A funny thing happens every time we see the 2012 Ford Focus approaching. There's a little sense this isn't a Ford at all. There's this feeling of recognition when spotting the bib-like grille extending obliquely down the front of the face, the low-slung nose, the cat-like headlamps perched at the upper corners. It took a few nano-seconds after we first saw the car to understand what it reminded us of. (Of course, that distinctive bib is a trademark of Germany’s luxury Audi.)
Ford's version of the bib front isn't an exact replica of the Audi, of course. The shape is different enough and with two lower vents close by, couldn't be called a copy. But we think someone at Ford would enjoy our reaction, especially since it endeared some of us so much to the look that we just named it the 2012 International Compact Car of the Year (ICOTY), AKA "Most Spirited."
Focus is most spirited, all right. And we love the attitude it exudes, which is a reason the ICOTY awards are given. According to ICOTY founder Courtney Caldwell (also publisher of Road & Travel Magazine) a cheeky bit of one-upmanship (deliberate or not) helps us love this car even more. After all, the purpose of the awards is to honor the qualities of new or newly refreshed vehicles for the emotion they bring out of us.
Caldwell knows how such an emotional connection can win an unmatched sense of loyalty from consumers that few products can claim. "The ICOTY
Awards are not about power and performance,
but rather about personality, passion and personal lifestyle," said Caldwell.
Bridgestone, longtime lead sponsor and supporter of the ICOTY Awards, recognizes the consumer-product relationship as critical to vehicle success. “Bridgestone is proud to support the ICOTY awards, and applauds the efforts of Ford Motor Company that like our company demonstrates a strong commitment to innovative technology,” said Michael Martini, president, Consumer OE, Bridgestone Americas. “Through the combined efforts of everyone in the auto industry, and led by automakers like those being recognized in the 2012 International Car of the Year Awards, we will continue to meet and exceed the demands of the motoring public.”
The Ford Focus is all new for 2012, and that left an opportunity to play around with it a little, especially since it goes head-to-head with an increasingly crowded landscape of compacts. What Ford fans get are five-seat sedan and five-door hatchback models in a quartet of technology laden trim levels S, SE, SEL and Titanium.
If anyone wants to compare this with previous generation Focus autos, they should resist the temptation. There's a definite international feel with this new model. That's by design since it's sold worldwide and is meant to appeal to international tastes. With German engineering under its belt, feel free think of it as autobahn ready.
|Ford Focus wins 2012 International Compact Car of the Year. Accepting the award (l) are Paul Russell, Ford Focus Marketing Manager; and Ken Czubay, VP US Marketing, Sales & Service, Ford Motor Company. Presenting the trophy (r) are Courtney Caldwell, Editor, Road & Travel Magazine and ICOTY founder; and Mike Martini, president Bridgestone America OE and ICOTY sponsor. (Photo by Jeff Kowalsky)
Besides that, Ford's intent has been to improve fuel economy and it solidly aimed at the 40 MPG mark in this redesign if equipped with a Super Fuel Economy package. EPA numbers suggest 27/37 as expected results for non-SFE versions.
In European style, the Focus comes with a five-speed standard transmission, but most American drivers undoubtedly will opt for the six-speed automatic. Both are mated to a spunky, 2.0-liter, 160-HP four, which is 20 more HP than the previous model. (A more powerful engine option is expected early this year.) Base pricing starts a shade below $16K, while the top-line Titanium is just under $23K.
The 2012 Focus has a roomier feel than its predecessor, thanks in part to a repositioning of wheels toward the "corners" of the car that also provides a more stable, comfortable, responsive and just plain fun ride.
Ford's attention to the interior includes European chic in IP setup. As expected, it is heavily loaded on the high tech electronics side (although somewhat quirky at times) in form of Microsoft's SYNC, MyFord Touch and company that have become a company staple. Want HD Radio with iTunes Tagging? You can get it. Rear view camera is available. And someone with a parking deficit can add the available Active Park Assist that will let it virtually parallel park itself.
Some complaints have surfaced about the omission of some passenger treats (leather seating/moonroof among them). We expect those issues will be addressed. But for someone with any eye for international appeal who is planning to visit a Ford showroom to check out the 2012 Focus, we'll add a little Teutonic encouragement: "Mach schnell!"
Road & Travel Magazine
2012 Ford Focus - International Compact Car of the Year
For more info on the Ford Focus, click here.
More on ICOTY Awards' History