A quiet achiever in the small hatchback market, the Focus has been with us for decades. It’s one of those cars you don’t notice, until you start to actually look for them – then they appear in numbers. Ford did have the previous version of the Endura available in New Zealand since early 2018, but those who knew the new model was coming may have held off buying, as you do.

Ford invited DriveLife to the launch of the 2019 model Focus, along with the launch of the 2019 Ford Endura SUV.

The location for the New Zealand launch was at Ford North Harbour – an almost new ‘Ford Shop’ which was described as “where it’s Metail, rather than Retail.”

Simon Rutherford, Managing Director of Ford New Zealand, didn’t speak too long at the launch, as he felt confident enough with both models, “I’ll let the cars speak for themselves”.

It is interesting that Ford are still offering a diesel engine in the Focus wagon, but there is a reason for that according to Simon. “We still need to supply diesel models to our customers that are demanding it.” Let’s hope they keep demanding it, as the diesel in smaller car can only mean good things.

Initially New Zealand will only have three models of Focus available; the base model (Trend), then the ST-Line, then the top-spec Titanium. The Focus ST hatch will be launched later, with an automatic gearbox option.

2019 ENDURA

There’s an all-new 2.0 diesel-turbo for this model, and it’s almost exactly the same engine that’s in the Focus. It puts out 140wW of power, and a decent 400Nm of torque. Fuel economy for the combined measurement is rated at 6.7l/100km. The Focus Trend wagon runs a detuned version that puts out 110kW and 370Nm, and better fuel economy of 4.4l/100km.

Apparently this engine is a ‘clean sheet design’, with improved performance, common rail fuel injection, and a variable geometry turbocharger.

There’s also a new 8-speed automatic, with a ‘aggressive first gear’ ratio and Active Transmission Warm-Up. Apparently there’s no torque lag from the aggressive first gear, and no transmission shudder using the new warm-up system.

You can pick from either two-wheel drive, or intelligent all-wheel drive options in the Endura range. Intelligent all-wheel drive will send 100% of drive to the rear wheels if it’s needed, and will completely disconnect AWD on highway etc, for fuel savings and reduction in wear and tear.

We were shown some other highlights, like the 20” rims, and also the doors wrap entirely under door sill for snow mitigation. The front doors open wide for an easy entry/exit, and Ford say the bonnet design imparts a wider, more planted stance.

There’s now lots of premium soft-touch materials used in the cabin, and post-collision braking is standard across both cars. Post-collision braking means that If you have an accident and the airbags deploy, the brakes will automatically lock after the accident

Also standard is Evasive Steering Assist to reduce the risk of a rear end collision. This operates at both highway and city speeds, and gives you more control when driving around an obstacle in the event of an emergency.

New to the Endura is a 180-degree front camera complete with washer, and also the windscreen and front side glass is laminated, to reduce noise. Also reducing noise is Active Noise Cancelling, and they’ve even insulated the front wheel arches to reduce the sound coming through there.

Another nice standard feature is that all Enduras have a 10-way power driver’s seat, with the ST-Line and Titanium also having a 10-way power passenger seat.

New to the Endura and also the Focus, is the gearshift dial. No more levers, selecting a gear is now done by a dial.

There’s Active Park Assist for the two upper models of Endura, which will also get you out of that tight parking spot.

  • Endura Trend front-wheel drive: $53,490
  • Endura Trend all-wheel drive: $56,490
  • Endura ST-Line AWD: $64,990
  • Endura Titanium AWD: $69,990

2019 FOCUS

Like the Endura and other Fords, there’s the three models of Focus; Trend, ST-Line and Titanium. Petrol models are fitted with a new, all-alloy 1.5-litre, 3-cylinder Ecoboost engine, giving the driver access to 134kW of power and 240Nm of torque. New is cylinder deactivation, where the engine will shut down cylinder one under no load, for an estimated 5% fuel saving.

The diesel option in the Focus wagon is the same engine as in the Endura, and is fitted with the same 6-speed automatic gearbox – there’s no manual version available. Petrol versions of the Focus use an 8-speed automatic gearbox.

Adaptive cruise control – where fitted – now has a stop/go function, with a three second feature; if you are stopped with adaptive cruise control on, and if the car in front of you moves off, if you don’t accelerate in three seconds, the car will move forward for you. Adaptive cruise control is standard on both the ST-Line and Titanium models.

New to the Focus is Lane Centring Assist, which works with adaptive cruise to keep you in the middle of the lane, mainly for fatigue reasons. It will bring you to a stop if hands fall off the wheel for an amount of time.

The Focus is now built on an all-new platform, inspired by the Focus RS. It’s 20% stiffer, with a longer wheelbase and a flat floor. The dash has been shortened and the windscreen is more upright, to give 50mm more knee clearance for front and rear passengers.

There’s also improved visibility, with much larger rear door windows to help with car sickness.

Rear cross traffic alert is standard in the top upper models, and includes Active Braking.

The Titanium model is fitted with a heads-up display (HUD), apparently the biggest and brightest in the class, and I’m happy to say Ford says this is the first HUD that works with polarised sunglasses. At last!

Parking Assist is fitted to the Titanium models, getting you into a spot that’s 1.1 times the length of the car. It’s fully automated too – put car in neutral, and the car will do the braking and change gears, and put itself into park at the end of the maneuvere. It will park out too, saving you from embarrassing yourself if it’s parked itself into that 1.1 spot.

  • Focus Trend 1.5 petrol hatchback: $31,990
  • Focus Trend 2.0 diesel wagon: $37,990
  • Focus St-Line hatchback 1.5: $36,990
  • Focus Titanium hatchback 1.5: $41,990

DRIVE TIME

Car 1: Focus Trend diesel wagon

Our first car was, as always, the base model. I selected a $37,990 Trend diesel wagon, in black. I prefer starting off with the base model to get a real feel for the car, rather than any extras it has.

Instant thoughts? This car is quiet – especially for a diesel. Cruising on the motorway from North Harbour towards Kumeu, the diesel proved itself to be punchy and quiet. In fact, general noise, vibration and harshness were at low levels.

It was excellent to see Ford have finally dumped the foot-operated park brake, with the Focus sporting an electric park brake complete with auto-hold.

The central display has great resolution, and I saw that SatNav was standard even in the base model, along with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. It’s a shame for the central screen Ford has gone to the ‘tacked on’ look that other manufacturers are finally getting away from, but the clarity makes up for this.

As you’d expect in a base model, there’s lots of hard plastics, but they’re very tastefully done, and the car doesn’t feel budget at all. Nice to see felt-lined door cubbies for that extra touch of class.

The gearshift dial is an interesting one – good to see on a practical front, that it doesn’t hide away like that in a Jaguar. It’s pretty simple and I expect most people would be converts very quickly. It works well.

I know there’s much larger rear door windows in the new Focus, but the third window for the station wagon part of it is almost tiny. It looks sexy on the outside, but doesn’t give you great visibility.

Another bonus in a base model – traffic sign recognition is standard, giving you the speed limit for the road you are on in the driver’s information display.

As a passenger, it’s great to see beige headlining and pillars; while there’s a good blindspot at the rear pillar, the interior is nice and light.

…to buying a new Focus.

Car 2: Focus ST-Line

Time to move up a class to the $36,990 ST-Line, which will no doubt be the big seller for Ford. Hopping in the car, there’s still cloth seats inside, but with contrasting stitching, they look good.

The interior of this car is all black, and it made a huge difference to it, feeling a lot smaller than the Trend.

I went to start it, and looked for the start/stop button. It’s quite awkwardly placed, on the left side of the steering wheel, a bit hidden away.

Your hands fall to a nice leather steering wheel, and the trim level certainly feels like it’s up a class.

Our drive car had the 1.5-litre, 3-cylinder Ecoboost engine, and man what an engine that is. It’s more than peppy enough, and in Sport mode is as eager as you could want. It can be a little noisy at times, but it’s a nice three-cylinder noise. But it’s the performance that gets you; even in Comfort mode, there’s more than enough torque to give you a smile.

The brakes are excellent too, a light touch will haul the speed down extremely quickly.

17” rims are standard on the ST-Line, and they are a decent 7” wide too. I didn’t get to test out the handling of the car, but it feels good and planted.

Car 3: Endura ST-Line AWD

All Enduras have the same 2.0 turbo-diesel as the Focus, with this model costing $64,990. Like the last Focus I drove, this has an all-black interior, but with a nice leather/suede mix on the seats. They felt good, and looked good too.

Extra weight over Focus with same engine is noticeable, with performance not as peppy as I wanted at times. It felt noisier too, but that could simply be because it was working harder with the extra weight. The chassis felt nice after I pushed it hard through a few corners, the AWD grip came in nicely, and it felt easy to get it to hustle through some bends.

It still feels a big car, with a bonnet that seems to stretch out in front and to the side quite a way, but definitely smaller than the Everest.

I liked the Endura , it feels like a tidy driver, and one that you would cruise from Auckland to Wellington in comfortably.

Car 4: Endura Titanium AWD

At $69,990, the top-spec Titanium is just $5K over the ST-Line. It looked far more luxurious, with an obvious feature of the standard DVD players in the back of the front seats, complete with headphones. This alone could win quite a few buyers.

This is the car I drove back to North Harbour. Like the ST-Line it felt good, but I did appreciate the ventilated front seats, which I see are also heated – as are the rear seats (heated only).

THE VERDICT

You should know by now, we don’t give a verdict on a single day’s drive. Only a week with each model is going to make their true colours come out.

But first impressions are good, especially the Focus with either the petrol or diesel engine – it’s quite the driver’s car.

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How on earth to start this? I've been car/bike/truck crazy since I was a teen. Like John, I had the obligatory Countach poster on the wall. I guess I'm more officially into classic and muscle cars than anything else - I currently have a '65 Sunbeam Tiger that left the factory the same day as I left the hospital as a newborn with my mother. How could I not buy that car? In 2016 my wife and I drove across the USA in a brand-new Dodge Challenger, and then shipped it home. You can read more on www.usa2nz.co.nz. We did this again in 2019 in a 1990 Chev Corvette - you can read about that trip on DriveLife. I'm also an Observer for the Institute of Advanced Motorists - trying to do my bit to make our roads safer.

2 COMMENTS

  1. Hi great reviews & website – just politely pointing out that according to the Ford NZ website the Focus diesel and Endura diesel engines are different.
    Keep up the good work – cheers.

    • HI Tim
      Thanks for that! It was asked if it was the same engine, and I was sure ‘yes’ was the answer – but that may have been me. Appreciated the correction.
      Cheers
      Fred

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