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Day 269: My Week in a Ford Focus


brooke driving ford focus

I think I look good in this car.

As mentioned in my last post, I was the lucky recipient of a Ford Focus test drive for a week that ended this Monday. Obviously, my first thought when I got the offer was about how I was going to be able to share the experience with you, my readers, but then I thought, “Ya know, this is driving abroad, in a country where I’m an expat and there are weird driving rules. This is valid.”

Plus, you might just want to rent yourself a new Ford Focus on your next holiday, right?!

Test Driving the Ford Focus

So, the first part of my plan with this Ford Focus was to simply test it out in a day-to-day, normal life type of situation. How does it work for me when driving to the shops, entering parking decks, going through drive-thrus, carrying groceries home and picking Pat up from the train station? How does it whip around curves, light the road up at night and stop on a dime? In all of these situations, it was beyond comfortable. Even though I had a 4-door hatchback, I never felt like the car was too big or bulky, and the ride was ultra-smooth. I do wish it had a slightly sharper turn radius for better parkability as that took a few tries to master.

However, one thing you might find confusing, as I did at first, were all the buttons! Obviously, I thought about all the features that meant this car had, but at the same time I had to really sit down and play for a good 20 minutes just to understand what they were all for. Just a tip 😉

Now, the second part of my plan was to go on a few day trips throughout the week in the Sydney area. Unfortunately, this plan is made difficult because I had to go alone (not that many people I know have super flexible jobs), and road trips by yourself are just not as fun, am I right? So, I drove up to Palm Beach to hang out for a couple hours.

The car looked all nice and shiny next to the beach.

The sun roof being open was an absolute must to create a better breeze… until I realized the sun was giving me a sunburn as I drove. And so it closed.

On the way back from Palm Beach, everyone’s favorite soap opera beach town, I hit up some of the smaller beaches like Newport Beach and Bilgola Beach.

The outlook heading into Bilgola Beach

The outlook heading into Bilgola Beach


On Friday, I was able to wrangle up Nicole for a little drive down to the Royal National Park, my favorite part of Sydney. When you’re in this area, you feel absolutely far away from city life, and it also has some nice beaches.

Watamola beach

We drove through the national park and on past the Sea Cliff Bridge. The weather was glorious; we couldn’t have had better for our day out.

otford lookout

This is when I got to experience the lovely nature of Sydney traffic. My 40 minute drive to pick Nicole up in Leichhardt took me 1.5 hours on the way back. Get some more roads, Sydney!

The last phase of the trial was to go on a little road trip with Patrick over the weekend. Alas, the weather was wretched on Saturday and Sunday, and who wants to drive a new car in the rain?! Not I. We ended up hanging around town for the weekend, but at least we got a bit of experience with the car’s handling in the rain.

The windscreen wipers are well designed and work smoothly (like they always do on a new car) – however I have to give props to Ford for their design on the front windshield. The entire surface is wiped in a nice smooth rectangle which makes a surprisingly big difference when driving in the rain.

A Run-down on Some Features

You push a button to start the car. You literally push a button and your engine is running (your foot must be on the brake to do so). You do the same to turn the car off, instantly. You just need to have your little sensor key in the vicinity to make this happen.

The rear view mirror works well in the night time – it seems like it has a night vision mode which has a greenish tinge – but does seem to give better vision than some others. Headlights and high beam provide a great, consistent range and illumination.

Gas mileage is out of control in this car. You will find yourself filling the tank up less often in the Ford Focus, which is great for road trips. The back seat has plenty of space for 2 friends, but fits 3; the air conditioning can be tweaked to suit the passenger and driver individually; the car’s bluetooth allows you to connect to an iPhone and make calls through the car’s speakers (hand’s free!). It’s a car of many, many, many features – like park assist that literally helps you parallel park in tight spaces!

Oh, and there are sensors on the car that are constantly ready to give you alerts, which might scare the crap out of you (like it did me), but I guess that’s the point! The front alert went off when it realized the car in front of me quickly slowed to a near stop but my car was still accelerating. Obviously, I was just realizing this and about to stop when the car gave me a nice warning. It’s a very smart car!

The car has a fair amount of engine braking, meaning you can notice the car slowing itself down when you are not accelerating which is supposed to give the driver a little bit more control. The brakes are sensitive, but really good. That said, the brakes need some getting used to, especially if you don’t want to spill drinks and give your passengers whiplash, but after a day or two, you will get the hang of them.

However, out of all the features on this car, I was sorely disappointed to find out that there was no built-in GPS? With the nice screens this car has on the dash, it would just make sense to use them to their full potential.

I could probably go on and on, but instead of sounding like an car manual I would just say that the car is worth a look at, a test drive and a car rental. If you’re one of the travelers out there reading this and in the market for a new car, then check out the new Ford Focus for sure.

P.S. Ford did not pay me write this. I did receive a free test drive for the week, which allowed me to have the driving experiences above.


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8 Responses to Day 269: My Week in a Ford Focus

  1. Chris September 28, 2011 at 6:17 pm #

    I thought the email I got sounded familiar, haha. I’ve been approached about giving the Focus a test spin too. Doubly keen to try it out after reading about your experiences in it.

    Looks like a nice ride!

  2. Tim Van Autreve September 29, 2011 at 12:34 am #

    My last two cars have been Foci. Josh Mason and I originated the Foci Fleet back in 2003. We both love them. Great cars. Glad you got to experience a taste of fine American craftsmanship while living abroad. 😉

  3. Rebecca September 29, 2011 at 3:52 am #

    Ohmigod, I am getting dizzy just looking at the picture of the dashboard!! Why can’t cars just be simple anymore, no more bells and whistles?! When I was looking for a car last summer, it was so hard to find one without all the latest toys that I didn’t need and more importantly, didn’t want to pay for!

    Ended up with a 2007 Yaris with a simple dash but I doubt it’s going to be that easy next time.

    But yay for car for a short time! Makes you value having a car a lot more, for during the times when you don’t have one:-)

  4. Annette | Bucket List Journey September 30, 2011 at 1:21 am #

    Now that looks like a really cute & practical car!

  5. JoAnna October 4, 2011 at 12:50 pm #

    I am crazy in love with my Ford Focus! I can say from experience that they are also very safe in nasty car accidents.

  6. Thomas | Jus Getaway October 8, 2011 at 5:43 am #

    Nice little sporty car! Sounds like it was fun to drive and I know they are great on gas. From the outside it didn’t look like it had that much room on the inside but the backseat seems to fit two adults comfortably!

  7. Kurt Becker August 6, 2012 at 3:26 am #

    I’ve had a new Focus for about two weeks and I love it. I’ve had mostly VWs (GTI and Jetta GLI), a 2003 Civic and a 2008 Mazda 6. The overall driving experience is hands down a win for the Focus (surprisingly). The VW GTIs I’ve had accelerated faster (obviously); but the Focus corners and handles far better; and while it’s not a rocket it’s decent. The tradeoff is the mileage. I’m getting 26-30 in hardcore city driving and 30-35 on short highway excursions. It’s the quietest car I’ve ever owned as well.

    The car is very comfortable and has a ton of features. SYNC does take some getting use to, but now I like it. The transmission is a little temperamental at parking lot speeds; but that seems to be getting better now. There’s plenty of room in the back and the seats fold down totally flat giving a lot of storage (or carting three big dogs).

    I’m driving this car till it can’t be driven any more.


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