2016 Ford Focus Media Drive: Adelaide


Driving Impressions

2015 Ford Focus Drive (11)

Blasting through the twisty roads of Basket Range at… erm, whichever speed limit the Australian government deems fair. And safely. We were very safe.

With the limited time we have had in the new Focus, I can scarcely distinguish any improvements from the outgoing model in terms of handling ability (which we tested back in 2013). The Focus already has a pretty solid base for handling dynamics, and the changes incorporated into the Mk 3.5 serves only to function as the cherry on top of the cream.

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The auto start-stop gets annoying at times, since the OZ lights are pretty quick to shift. Remember that air-conditioning/heating also takes a cut when the engine is switched off. We might not want to do it in peak hour under Malaysian weather.

A major improvement versus the outgoing model is the lack of shuddering in start-stop traffic, compromising on high-rev gear change speed (due to incorporation of the conventional auto’box). This may delight some and repulse others, depending on one’s motivation to purchase a Ford Focus.

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Some of the roads were very wet, especially nearing the end of our drive, but never once did we feel uneasy: The Focus and the tyres were a good fit. I bet the drivers in the manual tranny in front were having an awesome time.

The car is very capable in the windy roads leading towards the vineyard, and has stayed planted in any given situation (even in the 9°C, rainy weather; all cars shod in Goodyear Eagle F1 Asymmetric tyres).

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It was such a picturesque drive, we didn’t really mind the cold. If anything, we needed more time to further test the rest of the Focus’ offerings like SYNC2, rear seat comfort, speed limiter, practical luggage space, etc.

When I purposely pushed the car beyond its capabilities, the Focus’ electronic aids automatically impedes further brashness, and I am happy to say that it comes in rather smoothly. A win for the less-experienced drivers out there, I guess.

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We had a driver’s change at Devils Nose, which is about 39km north of the vineyard

There is a slight, but noticeable reduction in on-road noise intrusion, especially at speed, and the car feels solidly-built (at Ford’s Thailand Rayong plant).

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Along the way, we went through Humbug Scrub Road, the populace of which is known to many for being rather cinapek

Additionally, I would say that Ford’s improved EPAS increases driver engagement, but without the fatigue associated with conventional rack-and-pinion steering (from the constant feedback). Its exponentially-increasing torque requirement when turning the wheel (more effort is needed to turn the steering wheel at increasing angles, depending on vehicle speed) feels solid, potentially preventing the driver making an error in spirited drives.

2015 Ford Focus Drive (16)

EPAS is apparently the future, with the multitudes of functions available for the daily driver. However, if prompted, I’ll still take a rack-and-pinion over EPAS on a sporty car like the Focus, ‘cos I’m such a nostalgia junkie.

I did not like the overly-assisted brakes, though. They seem to bite at the slightest touch, giving a particularly jarring ride when driven enthusiastically, especially for people with less foot sensitivity. The gear control buttons are located on the gearknob, driver’s side, which feels awkward, especially on twisty roads. Also, the automatic start-stop feature when the driven car becomes stationary is included to reduce overall emissions levels, and to reduce fuel consumption, but I am unsure how durable this feature is in the long run.

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About Andrew Lee

Andrew is a commercial photographer by day and speed demon by night. Don't let his pleasant, approachable demeanour fool you, as he's an incredible fast driver on the circuit! Andrew is a man of many talents (some hidden). He often baffles many with his uncanny ability to stay awake for an inhuman number of days, then disappears. For hours. TCG labels him “Comatose Man” for his nocturnal endeavours and sleep super powers.

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