out of 10
Small cars really don't have to be so boring and banal, and Ford has nailed that point home with its all-new 2012 Focus.

The 2012 Ford Focus is an entirely new, more exciting-looking vehicle inside and out—now either a sharp four-door sedan or curvaceous five-door hatchback. On the outside, the Focus is crisply styled, dashing, and well-detailed. The interior is definitely a departure from what you'll find in other Ford vehicles, or other small cars for that matter, with a complex, sculpted look paired with classy, tailored details, trims, and finishes that belie its affordable price.

With 160 horsepower and 146 pound-feet of torque from its direct-injection 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, the 2012 Focus doesn't have impressive specs. But it all feels better from the driver's seat. You have to keep the engine revving a bit to access its perky side, but the new six-speed PowerShift dual-clutch automatic transmission does a great job with that, pulling off quick, snappy shifts when needed. An especially low first-gear ratio also makes takeoffs feel quick and confident (though it stumbles sometimes in city puttering). If you stick with a manual, the gearboxes offered in the 2012 Focus only have five speeds, and with a long linkage they could feel a little more sporty to match the rest of the car's character.

Handling is one of many areas where the Focus won't disappoint; we think it's about the best handler in this class—as athletic, and nearly as communicative, as the Mazda3, yet with a more compliant, livable ride—which is one of the key reasons, along with its overall sophistication and tech prowess, that it earns a 7 out of 10 and stands up against much more expensive vehicles. A standard torque-vectoring feature for the stability control helps the Focus feel especially surefooted in tight corners. Meanwhile, the Focus' electric power steering has a quick ratio yet feels nicely weighted and quite settled on the highway.

Small car surely doesn't mean 'economy car' anymore, and the new Focus seems to be the poster car for this idea. By stepping up to the SEL or Titanium trim and checking some option boxes, you can get items like the iPad-like MyFord Touch system with voice control, an Active Park Assist system, or a full-on Sport Package.

For more, see the full review pages covering the 2012 Ford Focus over at The Car Connection. And eagerly await next year's 2013 Ford Focus ST performance model.


UPDATEFord Focus ST And Jaguar XFR Chase Scene Coming To Goodwood Festival Of Speed

The 2012 Ford Focus ST will have a starring role in The Sweeney, and it will also get to play at this year's Goodwood Festival of Speed. Read Update

UPDATEDrive To The Summer X Games In A Ford Focus ST...Simulator

Ford's latest contest will pit drivers against one another in a Ford Focus ST simulator, with the fastest drivers earning prizes and a chance for a trip to the ESPN summer X Games. Read Update

UPDATE2012 Ford Focus ST-R Test Drive With Tanner Foust: Video

The Focus ST-R race car may not be cheap at $98,995, but for avid fans looking for a quick entry into motorsports it's certainly a worthy option. Read Update

UPDATEFord Shows Off The Focus ST-R: Video

Ford Racing's Andy Vrenko gives us an overview of the Focus ST-R, the latest turnkey race car from Ford. Read Update

UPDATEFord Prices Focus ST-R Race Car From $98,995

Ford has priced its Focus ST-R turnkey racer from $98,995, with deliveries projected to begin in the fourth quarter of next year. Read Update

UPDATE2012 Ford Focus ST Live Photos: 2011 Los Angeles Auto Show

And now, Ford has made it official, with the first showing of the 2012 Ford Focus ST this week at the Los Angeles Auto Show. Read Update

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The 2012 Ford Focus ST will make its debut at the 2011 Los Angeles Auto Show alongside a host of other new cars. Read Update

UPDATEFord Previews 2011 SEMA Customized Focus And Fiesta Lineup

Ford will use the SEMA 2011 background to show off new performance accessories for its Focus and Fiesta compact cars. Read Update

UPDATE2012 Ford Focus ST Hatchback Live Photos: 2011 Frankfurt Auto Show

Live photos of the upcoming 2012 Ford Focus ST from the 2011 Frankfurt Auto Show give us a taste of what to expect when the car arrives here in the U.S. Read Update

UPDATE2012 Ford Focus ST-R Race Car: 2011 Frankfurt Auto Show

The 2012 Ford Focus ST gets a racing variant, which can be ordered as a turn-key setup straight from Ford dealers here in North America. Read Update

UPDATE2012 Ford Focus ST Preview: 2011 Frankfurt Auto Show

The 2012 Ford Focus gets a high-performance hot-hatch variant in the form of the 2012 Focus ST, revealed in Frankfurt and on its way to the U.S. Read Update

UPDATE2012 Ford Focus ST To Show At Woodward Dream Cruise

The 2012 Ford Focus ST adds some hot hatch magic to the new Focus's range. Read Update

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