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TMCNet:  COMING OF AGE

[February 18, 2013]

COMING OF AGE

Feb 19, 2013 (The Manila Times - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- UNLIKE its hatchback sibling, the new-generation Ford Focus sedan isn't as photogenic, which only follows that it looks vastly better in the flesh--or sheetmetal, if you will. Where the hatchback is flashy, the sedan is subtle, coming across asthe introvert of the pair. It's the studious, quiet contrast to its outgoing and perky twin. It's the. . . all right, I know you get it.



But despite wearing styling that's more mature and a tad more conventional (because of its sedan cut), the four-door Focus is as tech-laden as the hatch, also defining its target buyers as those who are constantly wired on cappuccino and WiFi.

In the cabin of the top-spec Focus 2.0L Titanium+ (with the one pictured here recently serving as my drive for almost a week) are around 50 control buttons. It can be a bit befuddling, although this seeming surfeit gets to be less of a chore the more time you spend with the car--and you even get to appreciate the array of electronica. After all, the majority of these buttons access phone and multimedia entertainment functions.

Get in the Focus and the phone that has been previously introduced to the car will automatically be linked via Bluetooth, so its directory (and messages and videos and pictures, etc.) can be accessed. Other digital devices can be synced, too, either through Bluetooth or various input jacks. If you don't like buttons, press only one and talk to the car by voice commands.

While we're at stuff a lot people do not like, the Focus has parking assist, which in this case does not only mean beeping tones but is actually a system that automatically steers the car into a parallel-parking spot. In the real world it's mindlessly easy to use.

The Focus also warns you of other vehicles that may not be visible in the side mirrors. If you get distracted by all the computerized stuff in the cabin and fail to notice you're about to rear-end the vehicle (excluding motorcycles--but then who cares about them ) in front as you crawl through traffic, another device will brake the car for you. This car is smart.

Under its hood is a 168-horsepower, 202-Newton-meter, 2.0-liter gasoline engine that's peppy enough for daily driving. It bolts to a six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission that still shifts a bit jerkier than conventional automatics do.

Good thing the Focus sedan is comfy, with lots of space in the cabin for four (and still adequate for five.) The trunk is huge. The leather seats are firm. The ride is softer than that on the Focus hatch, so it's tuned for comfortable cruising rather than for sporty driving. It's steering is light and lifeless, and when you spin it it feels like stretching a rubber band--which then springs back to the dead-center position when you let go. In fact, besides styling, it's in the ride quality and the steering where the Focus siblings part ways as each one's character defines what type of buyers they have in mind.

Of the two (and both top variants carry P1.199 million price tags), it's the sedan that should appeal to more people--not only to enthusiasts.

___ (c)2013 The Manila Times (Manila, Philippines) Visit The Manila Times (Manila, Philippines) at www.manilatimes.net Distributed by MCT Information Services

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