2008 Ford Focus SE 2.0 from North America


Very high quality feel: detailed review/comparison inside


This review is written in my first week of ownership. Nothing has gone wrong.

General Comments:


The purpose of this review will be to state my initial impressions. Modeled after another review I saw on here, I will be updating periodically in the comments. If others begin to comment on this review, I will preface my updates with my middle name in brackets (widmer) to keep it organized.

If you wish I would cut to the chase, just know that my initial impressions are fantastic, and move on to the next review (LOL). A "more detailed" account follows:

My recent driving history includes a 2009 Civic LX, 2004 Outback, and a 1998 Voyager, all of which I have been driving regularly in the past few years. Obviously, I have meanwhile been a passenger in myriad other cars as well, including late model Audis, etc.

The primary reason I decided to purchase a Focus, was because my search for a sensible car with a reputation of reliability and fuel efficiency pointed me toward it. I'm a third-year pharmacy student who will be starting rotations in a few months, so these factors are absolutely necessary.

So I found and purchased one with the features that I wanted (FYI international readers: It seems that only 1 out of every 20 2008 model Focuses in the US has a manual transmission). Having owned and driven it for about a week, I have been absolutely astounded by the quality of ride/refinement that they pack into this "sensible commuter car". Examples:

- Very comfortable seats.

- Clean and stylish looks.

- Very quiet cabin, cannot hear the engine.

- Fun backlighting scheme at night, reminds me of the movie Tron

- Plenty of low-end power.

- Nice audio interface.

- Remarkable propensity to continue to roll while in neutral (hyper-milers take note).

- Several small misc. conveniences/niceties like tilt steering wheel, remote trunk release, cool blinker sound, slow-fade cabin light, etc.

The most reasonable comparison I could make with this car would be to my significant other's 2009 Civic LX. I have either driven or been a passenger in this car every week for the past couple of years. I have come to regard the Civic as a very well-built, fun to drive, and clearly dependable car. But given the choice, I would certainly not trade my Focus for it, and I'm pretty sure I'm not just suffering from new car syndrome. My primary reason for saying this is that sitting in the Focus feels much different than sitting in the Civic. I believe this is primarily because the window line is much higher on the Focus, and it therefore envelopes you more, and confers a more comfortable and luxurious feel. However, by this same metric, the Civic does feel a touch more sporty.

To be fair, the Civic I am referencing has a beige interior, and the Focus has a black/gray interior scheme, as well as the "chrome package", which causes miscellaneous hardware like the door handles to have a nice chrome finish. This clearly also contributes to my impressions of refinement. But in my own objective comparison I can say this:

- The Focus cabin is quieter.

- The Civic handles better around corners (less body sway), and might have better 0-30 acceleration (hard to confirm yet).

- The Civic also feels more prone and peppy, while the Focus feels more solid and stable.

- The Civic interior is more open, the Focus interior is more comfortable and "feels like a glove".

- Each has its own constellation of niceties, no clear winner here. An example equal exchange would be that while the Civic has the fun big digital speedometer, the Focus has the nice digital center island with various readouts.

- The Civic is a bit roomier for rear passengers, while the Focus has significantly more front head room.

Some of these differences are subtle, while others are dramatic.

In closing, the features that I feel the need to highlight in the Focus seem to illustrate an interesting sign of the times: It seems that the objective line between "sensible" and "luxury" cars is much finer than it used to be. If I blindfolded a series of people and put them in the Focus (front seat only, LOL) to ride all over town, I would imagine a pretty even percentage of them would guess it's an Audi vs. a sensible domestic car. This is based on the sounds and comfort of the ride.

I will continue to update, which if nothing else should be a good record of the reliability of this car.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 6th January, 2012

12th Jan 2012, 10:44

Great thorough review. I too have a Focus... a 2009 SEL. I am experiencing the same thoughts as you on quality and ride feel. The SEL is even better than the SE, if you can believe it. I actually rented one between cars a few years ago. The car I rented was an SE, but I was amazed at how well it drove. I always thought of a Focus as a basic econobox. It was peppy, and overall really fun to drive. I then decided to trade my Honda in for the Ford payment plan they had back in '09. I wanted to get a loaded one, so I was looking at SES and SEL models only.

The literature on the car spoke of an upgraded suspension on these two models over the SE and base S models. I thought it was hype really and didn't think much of it. Needless to say it didn't make or break my decision on anything, as I was already looking at the upper models anyhow. I noticed pretty quickly how different it really is though. The most noticeable difference is that the car doesn't hop on expansion joints when you are on concrete parkways. I noted that as one detraction on the SE I had rented, but it also wasn't all that bad, so I wasn't too concerned. What really made the difference was when I took the car in for a SYNC issue at 8K miles, and they loaned me an '09 SE with the same miles on it. The drive was totally different. My car feels so much more substantial. It was actually nice to see that this suspension difference was for real.

My only complaint is the horrendous tires they put on the car. I still only have 28K miles on mine, and I finally put snow tires and rims on it this year, as I really felt unsafe in it on the snow. Even in rain you get a ridiculous amount of spinning tires at the slightest push of the gas. Ford has been using Khumo tires, which I am sure are cheap for them to buy in bulk, but they are downright dangerous on anything other than dry road conditions, even at the low miles I have. The worst part is there is still a ton of tread left on them.

Other than that, I would highly recommend the Focus to anyone. I love mine. The heated leather is nice and the SYNC has been okay too. I just wish it was a better designed product, but Microsoft is Microsoft, so you get what you get. It is nice to not have the phone in hand though. Even the stereo is a nice quality unit. The only other option I would like is the sun and sound package with the even nicer sound system and sunroof. I do like the added headroom though, as a sunroof does compromise that by 2 inches or so.

Good luck with yours, and let us know how it is going for you.

2008 Ford Focus Titanium Estate 1.6 TDCi turbo diesel from Norway


The car for all of life's situations


A fault on the auxiliary heater caused the surprisingly large battery to be drained three times before the dealer managed to sort it out; happened when the car was 9-10 months old (approx. 22.000 km).

The ignition suddenly stopped working when driving, and the entire car was without any electricity. Started working by itself, dealer could never sort out what happened. The car was at this point 5 months old and had approx. 10.000 km on the clock.

Headlight washers stopped working after about a year (close to 30.000 km).

General Comments:

Positives: Excellent class-leading handling, well equipped and very good value for money. Quite roomy too, both for people and bags. Well suited for cold weather with an effective climate control and heated front window. Very low consumption.

Negatives: Interior quality somewhat substandard compared to most competitors, a bit noisy with the original 17" wheels (Continental SportContact tyres).

The Focus estate is well suited to meet everyday requirements for most people and families, as it is small enough to thread easily through crowded cities, at the same time as it is large enough to be comfortable when driving long trips. The Peugeot engine is surprisingly powerful, yet it delivers excellent fuel economy. The Focus acts like a grown up-car, but is still a lot of fun on twisty mountain roads. This will probably not be my last Ford.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 23rd January, 2011