When we headed out to the parking garage at the airport in Florida, we thought we knew what we were getting as our hire car. It was, after all, a Ford Focus – one of the most common cars on European roads.
But, the surprise was that this Ford Focus was substantially different to the Ford Focus as we know it. Following on from the Mondeo ‘world car’, the Ford Focus was supposedly going to be another car to be sold in the same form in international markets. But, as with the Ford Escort before it, the American Ford Focus became substantially different.
So different, in fact, that the current model in the USA is based on the previous model in Europe. There’s an all-new Focus unveiled that will be coming to a showroom near you shortly and, once again, we hear that this new Focus will indeed be a ‘world car’.
The only substantial difference, apparently, will be that the American Focus will be available as a saloon (sedan), because hatchbacks are not that popular in the USA. Conversely, the saloon is not expected to be available at all in the UK.
So, back to our Ford Focus in the USA. How did it compare with the European version?
The short answer is “very badly”.
The interior was quite a shock. In place of the welcoming interior we expect in Europe, the American Focus had nasty and, frankly, cheap-looking hard brown and beige plastic. Not a particularly nice place to spend the next couple of weeks.
The disappointment was more than skin deep. This was a hire car – so it is difficult to know how hard a life our Focus had had, but refinement was definitely lacking compared with what we expected.
Noise levels in the cabin were high and there was a looseness and vagueness about the dynamics that is definitely not what we expect from the well-sorted Focuses on our roads.
If the USA really does get the same, with the new model, as we get in Europe, American Ford buyers are surely going to be pleased!