wheels car of the year 2012 best small car: Ford Focus

A small car doesn't have to mean compromised motoring —this compact comes loaded to the brim with equipment, and more...

Ford Focus
Image Credit: By Dejan Jovanovic, wheels
The Ford carves up corners like no lukewarm-hatchback should have any right to.
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It was 10 months ago that we had our first encounter with the new Ford Focus, and we came away with one main conclusion: Boy, is the Focus ST going to be awesome, or what?

The base car is just that good, with natural feelsome steering and a multi-talented chassis that balances dynamics with an excellent ride quality superbly. In Sport and Titanium trim, the Ford also comes with a naturally aspirated 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine worth 168bhp and 202Nm of torque, flowing imperceptibly through a six-speed automatic transmission.

With a capable suspension set-up (independent MacPherson struts at the front and a control blade multilink independent rear end) and clever electronics, plus Ford’s mind-bogglingly capable torque-vectoring system guiding the front wheels, the Ford carves up corners like no lukewarm-hatchback should have any right to.

And at its higher trim levels, yes it gets pricey commanding a sticker in the 90 thousands, but the Titanium trim is loaded with dual AC, leather, power everything, active park assist, HIDs and LEDs, 17in wheels, foglamps, automatic windscreen wipers, sunroof, parking sensors front and rear, four airbags plus a lot more.

If you’re on a tighter budget there are still three lower trims to choose from, but they come with a far less eager 1.6-litre engine, although crucially, include the torque-vectoring system.

In such a tough class as the C-segment, the Ford Focus faces competition like the newly-launched Opel Astra, Mk6 Volkswagen Golf (until the new one gets here), five-door Honda Civic and Peugeot 308, but before we get to tags such as OPC, GTI, Type R and GTI, the Ford dealership is the first one you should visit first. And the last.