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Ford Focus 2012 review

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    The base model is priced at $21,990, with all the equipment you?d expect ? and some added goodies thrown in. Photo Gallery

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Carsguide road tests and reviews the all-new 2012 Ford Focus at its Australian launch.

2012 Ford Focus 4

The small car segment is the hardest-fought at the moment. And getting harder. Which gives the new Ford Focus an even bigger job to do, in trying to gain some ground on the classy VW Golf, sales-leading Mazda3 and a battalion of other strong contenders.


The base model Ambiente’s price has been kept at $21,990, with all the equipment you’d expect – and some added goodies thrown in. There’s Bluetooth with voice command even in the entry model. Of the other trim levels, the Focus Sport has a greater emphasis on driving enjoyment. Key features include sports suspension, 17-inch alloy wheels, sports front seats, dual zone climate control and a Sony audio system with 4.2-inch colour screen and multi-function display. Sport also scores the Convenience Pack as standard equipment.

It is more comprehensively equipped than the outgoing Zetec model. Titanium has even more goodies and sells from a starting price of $32,590. But one omission – or more truly, latecomer – is the satnav, which won’t join the range until later this year.


The dynamic new look has real cut-through on the street and a classy new interior featuring Ford's acclaimed kinetic design language. Two distinctive bodystyles are available, sedan and hatch, each with its own appeal. Drivers will no doubt appreciate the cockpit-style driving environment, but while the cabin has lost none of the comfort and practicality, the centre stack and surrounds are starting to look overdesigned..


Five stars in crash testing, with six airbags and a raft of technology to try and prevent the crash in the first place. There’s also a stronger body with extensive use of high-strength steels. New Focus also features a patented front chassis subframe, which de-couples during severe frontal impacts, avoiding deformation in the passenger cell footwell area. Pedestrian protection has been boosted by the addition of a "soft" cowl design in the front body structure and Ford has also relocated the windscreen wiper system to help further reduce injury risks.


The basic line-up for the 2011 Focus is simple: hatchback and sedan bodies, three engines - 1.6-litre petrol, 2.0-litre turbodiesel and 2.0-litre petrol - with five-speed manual and six-speed DSG PowerShift auto.

The double clutch Powershift manumatic would be difficult to overlook for everyday and sporty driving as it offers the best of both worlds and an extra gear over the manual which is five speed only. What happened to the six-speed manual?


The hero car for the Focus will be the next RS. But what’s arrived this week already bodes well for a future hot hatch. In a brief stint over rough dirt roads and snaking blacktop, the new Focus showed good grip and agility.

The smaller 1.6-litre petrol engine needs to be egged up the rev range to get any sparkle, but the 2.0-litre is more enthusiastic – no surprises there. But it is the 2.0-litre turbodiesel that we spent more time with that looks to be the best all-rounder, developing 120kW/340Nm – 20kw and 20Nm more than the last Focus TDCi we drove. The six-speed automatic transmission is a good worker, but the button on the side is fiddly and awkward to use.

For full drive impressions, see Carsguide this weekend.



Price: from $21,990
Warranty: 3 years/100,000km
Resale: 50 per cent after 3 years (Glass's Guide)
Service interval: 12 months/15,000km
Safety: 5-star ANCAP
Engines: 1.6-litre petrol, 92kW/159Nm; 2.0-litre turbodiesel, 120kW/340Nm; 2.0-litre petrol, 125kW/202Nm
Body: Four-door sedan, five-door hatch
Weight: 1311-1543kg
Transmission: 5-speed manual, 6-speed Powershift DSG, front-wheel drive
Thirst: 5.5-7.2L/100km, 95RON/diesel, CO2 144-167g/km


ImageMazda3- compare this car
Price: from $21,330 (Neo)
Engine: 2.0-litre petrol four cylinder
Transmission: 6-speed manual, front-wheel drive
Body: Five-door hatch, four-door-sedan
Thirst: 7.6L/100km, 91 RON, CO2 187g/km



ImageNissan Tiida
Price: from $17,990 (ST)
Engine: 1.8-litre four cylinder
Transmission: 6-speed manual, front-wheel drive
Body: Five-door hatch, four-door sedan
Thirst: 7.6L/100km, 91 RON, CO2 182g/km



ImageVolkswagen Golf- compare this car
Price: from $21,990 (1.2-litre hatch)
Engine: 1.2-litre four-cylinder TSI
Transmission: 7-speed DSG, front-wheel drive
Body: Five-door hatch
Thirst: 6.2L/100km, 95RON, CO2 143g/km


Comments on this story

Displaying 3 of 33 comments

  • I had had my ford focus for 12 months,It dropped a piston and was out of action for 3 weeks. Three times I have returned to the car to find all the windows down. And the lastest it makes a clunking noise when changing gears at times. Should have keeped my mazda.

    Kirsten von der Lippe of Gympie Posted on 21 May 2013 4:59pm
  • I’v had my 2012 Focus Titanium hatch (with Sports executive pack option) for nearly 2 months, and am still in awe of this car. For the first 1000kms it was a bit “tight” in the engine,but once it had run in -it’s been spot on. I’ve driven so many different cars over the years, and this car is by far the best. The handling is awesome, and I can’t find anything I don’t like about it.
    Some people have commented on the ‘fiddly’ gear switch on the shift stick (sports mode)-but it actually works really well. The multiple audio and function switches all over the steering wheel initially put me off the design a bit bacuase it looked too complicated- but once i got to know what they all do and can use them without really looking- they are actually very sensible and esy to use. I just had to experiment with them a few times.  The adaptive cruise control is a really good function-never driven a car with that before, and the collision alert system is as well-even though it frightened the crap out of me the first few times when it activated .
    I read the entire manual at least 4-5 times over a couple of weeks-and every time I did I learnt more about what this car has- and can do. Top car!

    Andrew of Belmore of Bexley NSW Posted on 23 June 2012 2:42pm
  • Yes we received our Ford Focus Sport and have nothing but trouble with the powershift.Exactly as you say, my husband will not drive it because it is too danderous Our dash has gone blank for three hours and has a shudder when waiting at lights. Went to start it and dash lite up like a christmas tree and the car was shuddering badly, had to turn it off to get it to run.
    Faye of Leichhardt in Ipswich QLD

    Faye Axelsen of Leichhardt QLD Posted on 21 June 2012 1:57pm
  • I purchased a ford focus titanium last month, love the way the car drove and its packed with awesome features however 1000km later the engine fault light turned on. Took the car to ford service and they are replacing the bottom end of the engine. Now ford have the $$ I paid and the car. been 3 weeks now, and they won’t honour a replacement or refund even though consumer laws state if its a major problem the consumer is entitled to a refund or replacement not a repair. I can sense more future issues now. Changed my whole perspective of ford.

    wojciech of rowville Posted on 31 May 2012 11:53am
  • I love my Focus Ambiente also, but there is a real problem with the powershift/auto.  The only way I can describe it is that it gets confused as to when to change gears with stop and start driving. Recently it decided to go into neutral and was revving extremely loudly instead of engaging 1st gear just as I had entered a major roundabout.  It was a near miss with the car that was on my right, a split second later and we would have been hit.  Very scary, especially with kids in the car.  Ford service has told me that until Ford releases new software to update the gearbox there is nothing they can do.  They have reset the computer but don’t guarantee it won’t happen again.  I am really confused as to what to do next.  We actually had two near miss accidents because of this and I now refuse to get in the car.  Will wait and see what they (Ford) suggest as it didn’t happen while they test drove it but they did mention that alot of cars are being brought back to them for similar issues with the powershift.  I just wanted an automatic car!!!!! Has anyone had any issues with the 5spd manual??

    Narls of Sydney Posted on 31 March 2012 9:25am
  • I love my Focus Sport Titanium.  It drives wonderfully and has more features and better looks than both the Mazda 3 and the Cruze. I think the negative posters have been brain washed by the Mazda marketing machine.

    Linda of Melbourne Posted on 30 March 2012 8:51am
  • Only thing wrong with the focus is it doesn’t come to Australia in diesel with a manual gear box, ford you have dropped the ball and you have lose my vote and sale of a focus sport in a diesel with a manual gear box.I have been a ford man for many years now but bye bye. I will now buy a MAZDA 3 diesel with a 6 speed gear box and a sat nav as standard.

    Eric Reid of Singleton NSW Posted on 05 March 2012 9:25pm
  • I was looking at one for my wife and I realized only the US get a decent sized sat not touch screen. I’ll buy a second hand Mercedes C class instead.

    michael of castle hill Posted on 25 October 2011 2:09pm
  • The Ford website indicates the TDCI is only Auto. That’s crazy.

    Alan of Logan City, Qld Posted on 21 October 2011 10:27am
  • Ford Australia need to get with the program and offer the same spec as the the Euro models with all the options. The euro models are cheaper with more goodies. And what about all the other models like the s-max, c-max and focus wagon.

    Andrew GARDINER of Australia Posted on 01 October 2011 9:35pm
  • So it says on here I can get 2.0-litre turbo-diesel ... but when will this be available? I cannot find anything on the Ford Focus website ...

    2.0-litre turbodiesel of burwood Posted on 20 September 2011 2:08pm
  • As usual, FORD sells the Titanium for $34 000?!?! Straight to a CRUZE thanx. FULL STOP

    Nil of adelaide Posted on 25 August 2011 10:33pm
  • what ever you do dont buy this vehicle in australia , australians are getting gimped on a titanium here for 10,000 dollars more we dont get my ford touch an 8 inch touch screen and a reversing camera instead we get a pathetic 3.5 inch grainy screen which looks like crap

    jloe of 45 rover street Posted on 21 August 2011 7:28pm
  • What happened to the Mytouch 8” screen? Why did they remove it for the Australian model?

    Brad of Sydney Posted on 18 August 2011 4:22pm
  • There are some real idiots around. How can you say it is ‘better then’, or ‘worse then’ if you have not driven it? Think about it.

    Jeeves of Hobart Posted on 05 August 2011 9:12am
  • I like the steering wheel and hi tech interior, and if A3 is the bench mark, it may be a good car - Not that A3 is great but it’s a quality ride. The semi auto transmission not being very intuitive is a problem, but I can’t wait to hear reviews of the turbo D car, this will be the optimum combo esp if some tweaking can be done aftermarket..

    Willie Wonker of Sydney Posted on 01 August 2011 4:54pm
  • Its a shame that the safety aspects of the car have gone backwards. Compare the LV series. The Ford Focus LV scored 15.66 out of 16 in the offset crash test.  The 2011 Focus scored 15.04 out of 16 in the offset crash test. The Ford Focus LV scored 15.80 out of 16 in the side impact crash test.  The 2011 Focus scored 15.13 out of 16 in the side impact crash. It won’t be giving the Golf a scare in this department and as UK and Euro comparisons have indicated, its interior quality (with the new holden cruze/kia styling), as well as general refinement are not as good either. Checking the Ford website….the capped price servicing is more expensive than the VW golf service ($239) and insurance is also higher…..oh well, I was considering this car.

    Nelly Potato Posted on 27 July 2011 12:06pm
  • Go Ford! Ford’s latest idea is to get more sales than Toyota (globally) in a couple of years. They will do it too! The 2012 ford focus is an A1 car - leaves the Holden Cruze for dead!

    David of Melbourne Posted on 15 June 2011 9:00pm
  • When is it coming to OZ?

    ozeeboy of Bris Posted on 19 May 2011 4:05pm
  • That’s all good but have they improved their paint work. Do the plastics match the metals? My 3 month old Focus doesn’t match up. Watch for this when you buy your next Focus or even any Ford for that matter, they all seem to be the same lately. They simply don’t match up the paint.

    Luke Paxinos of Melbourne Posted on 19 May 2011 1:29pm
  • We will be getting the Ecoboost turbo version. so cop that VW. Also its great to see the 1 Ford global system starting to show fruit. Fiesta has been a success and its great to see all the new gen Ford’s coming through. With Mondeo,Falcon,Territory and Ranger as well this year its going to be busy..

    Markf of Caboolture Posted on 06 May 2011 11:22am
  • The new focus looks to be a great replacement for the current, highly underated LV series (its only real letdowns are south african build quality and a very cheap interior quality). However, it would be great if writer’s of these articles got their facts straight before misleading the public wit biased claims.“Unlike the Golf, the Focus takes basic unleaded and won’t cost a fortune to service.” The Golf is no more expensive to service than any of its direct rivals (Mazda 3, Ford Focus)....$239 every 15000Km is hardly earth shattering. Corlloa may be around $120 capped, but its needed every 10000km (and is not a comparable car) and Mazda 3 is definately not cheaper (ask anyone who owns one)...the focus is unlikely to be cheaper either based on current costs of ownership. In 2009 wheels magazine reviewed onership cost of various car classes and VW models were in the top 3 in a couple of those classes…including Golf and Passat…....facts please, not biased eurobashing propaganda.

    nelly potato of toowoomba Posted on 04 May 2011 10:47am
  • If they get the 1.6L Turbo with 130-odd KW here then they have a sale. Sadly Ford Australia will not offer the range of models the Euros get. Particularly disappointing given VW offers all the Golf range.

    Simon Brisbane of Brisbane Posted on 16 April 2011 10:49am
  • It sounds like a good thing with much improvement, but to be competitive it’d need to be. I’ve done a lot of kms in Europe in a hire Focus and it wasn’t anywhere near as good as my wife’s Mazda 3. Handling was similar but the general build quality was much lower. The reason Focus outsells the 3 in the UK is price. Over there the Mazda has a similar niche to the Euro hatches here.

    DarylS of Toowoomba Posted on 25 March 2011 3:25pm
  • I am so hapy the new Focus is coming out; that means the soon-to-be-outdated current modelsI will drop a heap on the used car market and I can pick up one cheaply as a run around!

    2nd Hand Man Posted on 17 March 2011 12:42pm
  • I read a car report review mentioning the air-conditioner not suited for our extreme heat in summer!! I am disappointed because that is one of my requirements for purchasing a car…air-conditioner, power steering and auto…tinted windows would be a bonus!

    Joanne of Craigmore South Australia Posted on 11 March 2011 1:16am
  • Ford Aus will have a difficult task selling the focus here, it’s not that their marketing is poor it’s the mind set of boganstralia. The focus is the UK number one seller eight out of the last ten years and out sells the mazda3 ten to one but here it’s almost the reverse. Brand loyalty rules supreme here, look how many Cruzes have been sold for what is essentially a new vehicle to the market in Aus, how many of the buyers actually drove a current Focus? wbtw drives better than an i30

    Watto of Sydney Posted on 28 February 2011 10:48am
  • Well, I’m concerned, as the test drive took place in America, with American suspension settings. Frankly, if you’re so concerned about Ford, then you’re not living in Australia. Australia is lucky to be passionate about cars; the worst chassis in Australia would probably be amongst the best in America. And the same applies for build quality and reliability: their best wouldn’t see a driveway over here. So be fortunate that we are even getting cars like the Focus, the 6, or even the i20. Reliability is a given on all cars; it’s up to the driver. So, clearly, stop thrashing your cars.

    AJ of Sydney Posted on 12 February 2011 9:25pm
  • Looks great really nice. Makes the Mazda 3 look a bit outdated, miles in front than Holden Cruze for that design has worn off me now there nothing special especially when it comes to the driving experience. The Focus will sell well ... it looks so funky! Honda Civic is the only other car I would consider.

    Ress of melbourne Posted on 01 February 2011 7:37pm
  • Well, I like the interior. Ford has most certainly achieved the ‘cockpit’ style they aimed for. Even the manual button gear change on the auto is very similar to many gaming aircraft simulation devices. If you?re good at these games/joysticks, I?m sure its going to be a breeze operating this. I can’t wait!

    Drew Posted on 01 February 2011 6:45pm
  • Looks like something Kia would design. Not a standout car for me and being a Ford it won’t sell.

    Yoshi of Brisbane Posted on 01 February 2011 5:26pm
  • Nah, sorry, it will have to be on sale for a few years before I’d buy one. I’d want to see what the build quality and reliability is like - sure, it should be good, being German-built, but it’s a Ford so who really knows.

    John Posted on 01 February 2011 3:02pm
  • Looks the goods now lets see if ford AUS can SELL it as they have failed so far

    jason of melb Posted on 31 January 2011 4:23pm
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