I saw one of these for the first time the other day, it seemed like a
completely pointless car. They have taken the regular focus, and shrunk the
boot, made it less practical, and longer.
One of the great things about the hatch is its space efficiency, small on
the outside (important for city dwellers) and big on the inside.
Apparently this was developed mainly for the American market, but why does
America have an obsession with saloon cars? Admittedly the drive for space
efficiency is much less than in Europe, but still, why bother with saloons?
Is there a stigma attached to hatches?
Regarding the loss of space issue, it does annoy me that all Foci (and most
newer cars) are *much* narrower at roof level than at wheel level. I assume
that this has been done for style reasons but it cuts down on interior space
while doing nothing for overall size. It's most annoying for us tall people.
I preferred the shape of the Mk 3 & 4 Escorts to be honest.
According to the Ford Canada website, the Focus sedan has a CD of .31, the
wagon .32, and the hatch .35. So the hatchback definitely loses, but I doubt
that anyone in North America took that into account before deciding which to
I remember that too. But of course the difference between the wagon and
sedan is hardly enough to worry about. I suspect a more important
consideration was stability at top speed (150mph as I remember - it had a
highly modified engine) and perhaps the extra weight in the rear of the
wagon helped with that.
In the case of a Focus, the 4-door hatchback is somewhat shorter than
the estate / wagon. Someone who doesn't need as much cargo space as
the estate / wagon provides but does want to park in the city may want
the shorter car.
Timothy J. Lee
America's current vehicle obsession is actually with SUVs, which are
essentially obese hatchbacks. Single people and childless couples use
these things, as well as enormous pickup trucks, as commuter cars,
hauling around seats and storage space that they never use. Sensible?
Perhaps. I think hatchbacks tend to be associated with cheaper cars or
younger and "sportier" drivers. This is true even though hatchbacks
generally cost a little more than the comparable sedans in most model
lines -- Ford Focus, Honda Civic, etc -- and are, as you observed, a
more practical design. I do notice that all the expensive cars that have
hatches are designated as SUVs of some kind.
In addition to considerations of price and image, some of the preference
for sedans might come from a belief that you're safer in a rear-end
collision with that trunk (boot) hanging out over the back wheels. It
might also come from innate American stodginess: a sedan, even a modern
aerodynamic one, just looks more like the cars their parents drove.
There's a stigma attached to just about everything in the U.S.
It starts when we're kids and say things like "my dad makes more money
than your dad".
From there we never really grow up.
That why some of my neighbors are deeeep in debt just so they can
drive a gigantic SUV to work (with ONE occupant) that cost thousands
more than the house I grew up in.
Then there's the gigantic pickup trucks with nothing in them and not a
scratch on the cargo area's paint.
A TV ad for one line of trucks suggests the cars are wimpy
"panty-waist" vehicles and shows a hatchback getting crushed by a
salvage yard crusher machine.
This 'keeping up with the neighbors' thinking has fueled the U.S. auto
makers for years not to mention the imports' "better build quality"
that has crept into the picture over time.
It that simple, if you drive an old car, no matter how nice, you are
trailer trash. If you drive a practical car like a hatchback, you are
perceived as not wealthy enough to afford two vehicles, one to carry
cargo (the incredible hulk pickup) and one to go to work in (shiny new
If you drive a vehicle that only the wealthy can afford even though
your not wealthy, you have achieved the "American Dream" I guess ? !
It's all about ranking and pecking order.
In the U.S., "all men are created equal", BUT some are more equal than
Hatchbacks and wagons almost disappeared in North American by the late 90s,
killed by a combination of the image of the hatchback as a "cheap" car, and
by the popularity of minivans. I still wanted a hatchback, and that was what
lead me to the Focus. I had always been a Chrysler man but you couldn't get
a hatch on the Neon, so I bought my first Ford in four decades of car
Since then, hatches and wagons have come roaring back, and North American
drivers have a wide choice again.
Sedans (over here, a saloon is a place to drink, not a car) also have the
reputation of being a little lighter, stiffer and quieter than equivalent
hatchbacks, although the stats don't support that for the Focus.
Interestinly enough, I have also been on the Crysler / Mitsu track
since 1984. I've gotten tired of dead Cryslers and Mitsu.'s in my
driveway so I too am trying the Focus.
Before 1984 I always drove Ford Capri's and VW Bugs with an occasional
rusting GM hulk thrown in, all of which died of old age rather than
inferior parts & design.
1981 Omni - terrible fuel delivery sys.,- kept dying in traffic.
1986 Mitsu P.U. - dead at 78k mi. - piston rings gone.
1987 Sadow- engine rebuilt at 46K mi - fuel and brake lines rusted out
at 136k mi / 9 years old, - now has spark plug stuck in it probably
due to cracked head. Stil in service, but shakey reliability. Won't
drive it further than I can walk back home.
1993 Caravan - engine rebuilt at 38k mi. - trans went at 104k mi.
again at 136k mi - fuel pump dead at 152k mi. - now sitting in drive
with blown head gasket waiting for new engine at 167k mi. (maybe at
tax refund time)
Otherwise they've been good cars, LOL.
You can see why I keep a good running spare car in the drive just in
My spare car is a 1977 Buick-Opel with 195k mi. Runs perfect leaks /
burns nothing. Still don't need a calender to measure the 0-60 mph
times. Best of all NO COMPUTER MODULES TO FRY OUT ! ! ! If it starts
running bad I know I have to replace 7 parts: 4-Plugs, Points,
Condensor and Coil. Total cost: $25 - $30 tops. It runs so well the
emissions readings almost rival that of the new cars. (when the "air
pump" is hooked up)
. . .
Motorsforum.com is a website by car enthusiasts for car enthusiasts. It is not affiliated with any of the car or spare part manufacturers or car dealers discussed here.
All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.