If there ever was a question that Ford would focus on the Focus, the new model year should remove any doubt. In a fuel economy conscious market, Focus has become the company's stalwart small car staple.
For 2008, Focus has a freshening under its belt, and more available styles and trim levels, including a first-ever two-door coupe augmenting its sedan, wagon and hatchback lineup. Underneath are improved driving dynamics, with more high tech toys inside and a number of visual improvements designed to catch the eye.
Jazzing up the instrument panel is one. Gauges, steering wheel, console, door and even window controls sport a new, cool lit glow aptly named Ice Blue. It sets a mood designed to enhance the "Ford Sync" advanced in-car connectivity for media players and mobile phones. The customizable, proprietary set-up developed with Microsoft connects with as many as six different Bluetooth-enabled cell phones with hands-free microphone and system-activated phone features such as ring tones or address book.
Want a different hue inside? Then change the ambient lighting to red, orange, violet or one of four other background mood colors with a switch on the dash.
In keeping with Ford's "Bold Moves" philosophy, Focus has exterior updates meant to make it look more aggressive. Design lines are more muscular, with flared wheel arches and strong, three-bar grille "face" with a three-bar tracing that flows horizontally into headlamps. As many as five inside get treated to a more polished, flexible interior and a quieter, more refined ride.
Focus has improved steering and added other tweaks to boost responsive driving capability, with new tuning packages for 15- or 16-inch tire sizes, and a new braking system. Side curtain airbags become standard for 2008.
Powering the Focus are a standard 140-HP Duratec 20 inline four or the 130-HP Duratec 20E, cleaner than some hybrids. The entry price of $14,695 and estimated fuel economy of 24/35 MPG, are a trade off for someone needing a bit more car.