The 2008 Ford Focus has seen improvements all over, including under its hood by improving fuel economy and handling.
The only powertrain on the Focus is the 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, says MyRide.com. Due to better exhaust tuning and intake, the horsepower has been upped to 140. These changes have resulted in a partial zero emissions certification in a number of states, which shaves 8 hp off the total. Car and Driver confirms "the lone powerplant is a 2.0-liter twin-cam four producing 140 horses. It propels the Focus to 60 mph in 8.0 seconds." Edmunds adds, "The 2.0-liter engine provides adequate power."
"The standard transmission on all Focus trim levels is a five-speed manual," says Edmunds, but a "four-speed automatic is available as an option." When performing on the highway, the "four-speed automatic saps some, but not all, of the 140-horsepower engine's strength," MyRide.com notes.
According to Edmunds, the automatic tranny is also a drain on fuel economy. They state that if you go for a Ford Focus with a manual transmission, the "fuel economy is estimated at a very good 24 mpg city and 35 mpg highway"; however, "Automatics are similar but decrease highway fuel economy by 2 mpg." MyRide.com's test drive of the Ford Focus yielded around 27.4 mpg, which is competitive for the class.
MyRide.com observes "for the new model, the suspension system has been completely revised with different spring rates, dampers, stabilizer bars and bushings. The Focus continues with MacPherson struts up front and an independent multi-link set-up in the back." In the end, they say that the 2008 Ford Focus is "a very competent handler."
Car and Driver reports that the "steering is light and linear and never feels artificial. Clutch takeup is smooth, and the shifter is satisfactorily accurate. Brake feel is good (although the 190-foot stopping distance isn't), and the pedals encourage heel-and-toeing." Reviewers also say that the suspension is a bit cushy, but it has a tall, tippy feel. Edmunds calls the Focus "reasonably fun to drive thanks to quick steering."
Car and Driver says, "What you notice first about the Focus is that it rides atop a greatly stiffened platform." MyRide.com agrees, noting, "Even though it's an eight-year-old platform, the Focus's chassis is taut. The ride is firm without too much harshness, and handling was good as far as we could tell on the moderately curvy wet roads."