I have some really bad news for our friends overseas. The best compact car in the world right now is made in Detroit. And though the new Chevy Cruze is truly world class, in my opinion, the best is made by Ford.
I had a chance to drive the original Ford Focus on the Autostrada in Italy before it came to the States. It drove wonderfully and looked, well, odd. Part swoopy, part stubby, sort of like the cast of Jersey Shore.
The new Focus though, is everything the old one wasn’t. And you have my permission to ignore the sedan version and concentrate on the five-door hatch. It is gorgeous from any angle.
The grill is obviously borrowed from Audi, but hey, if you’re going to steal, rob a bank not a grocery store.
And this week, we got the hot rod, ST version, and if you like your economy with a whopping dollop of performance, this little bullet is for you.
The interior is just plain delicious. The dash is curvy in all the right places, which is my preference in most anything I can think of. The door shuts with an authoritative thunk that I thought the Germans had copyrighted. I think the Focus owes them royalties or something.
The black and yellow seats were real Recaros, which means they fit like you’re sitting in a catcher’s mitt.
One word of caution, those who are a lilttle broad in the beam, opt for the regular sport seats. You’ll fell like your wearing a truss.
Our car was equipped with the 6-speed manual, which is really one-speed short to be truly competitive these days. It is connected to the turbocharged, EcobBoost 2-liter, 252-horsepower 4-cylinder engine that will move this little sled to 60 miles per hour in 6 seconds. And it will take you all the way up to 155 miles per hour.
Not eyelid peeling, but enough to put it near the head of this class of compact sport sedans. . Handling is excellent, with electric power steering and the sport suspension and it’s 16-inch wheels.
The Focus will make the daily commute feel, if not like the Mulsanne Straight at LeMans, at least more fun than bumper to bumper on the Loop. But frankly, go ahead and pretend it’s LeMans. The car is that good.
About the only criticism is a bit of torque steer. That’s the tendency in a front-wheel-drive car to yank the wheel a bit to one side when you step on the gas.
All this goodness starts at just over $24,000 and our loaded version just reached $26,000. For a car this good, that qualifies as grand theft auto.