Sitting down at the pre-drive briefing with Ford engineers ahead of sampling the refreshed 2015 Focus, water bottles clinked as we wet our whistles before Q&A. While pouring a glass, we noticed something stamped on the bottle label: "1L." One liter. We were palming the exact displacement of the EcoBoost engine our group was about to drive. This was undoubtedly coincidence (such bottles litter every conference and dinner table in Europe) but it served to drive home just how small the total swept volume of Ford's wunderkind powerplant really is. It's tiny. Of course, this isn't our first run-in with the little triple – we've sampled its turbocharged charms before in Ford's smaller Fiesta. At that time, we found it had plenty of poke for the subcompact, but the larger C-segment Focus carries around another 450 pounds or so and pushes a wider profile through the air. Would the three-cylinder have the stuffing to make the most of the Focus' athletic chassis, or would it be a letdown? Would it be the same as it was when we tested it in a Euro-spec Focus a couple of years ago? There was nothing left for it but to head out on the bucolic roads surrounding Versailles the day after the Paris Motor Show and find out for ourselves. Gone is the 2014 model's polarizing mouth-breather look, binned in favor of the trapezoidal son-of-Aston grille treatment. We can't go much further without noting the Focus' much-updated appearance. Gone is the 2014 model's polarizing mouth-breather look, binned in favor of the trapezoidal son-of-Aston grille treatment and narrower headlamp look that's spread throughout Ford's passenger car lineup. It's a comprehensive rethink that includes a wholly different front fascia, light fixtures, fenders, hood, and even a relocated and resized Blue Oval emblem. Out back, the old car's v-shaped license plate pocket has been smoothed over and a pair of reshaped, somehow duller taillamps now bookend the hatchback. Overall, the new look is much more refined and svelte, but to our eyes it somehow lacks the brashness and distinctiveness of the previous car. Regardless of what you make of the exterior changes, the interior rework is likely to be more welcome. The outgoing cabin featured a high-tech aesthetic, but it also felt cluttered and button-heavy. Not so with the new one, which features a sporty three-spoke wheel and a slimmer, nicely rationalized center stack an arm's length away. The latter is a major improvement, with more traditional and user-friendly climate and infotainment controls and a handy phone bin with adjacent USB and 12V plugs. MyFord Touch remains the resident interface on navigation-equipped models like our Titanium-spec tester, and while the system is improving, it's still far from our favorite. Material choice and observed fit-and-finish on these early-run cars was very good, as was seat comfort. Any questions of powertrain refinement quickly go out the window once you step on the throttle. Powering away into the French countryside, if nobody told you there was an Evian bottle's …
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|MPG||26 City / 38 Hwy|
|Transmission||6-spd auto-shift man w/OD|
|Power||160 @ 6500 rpm|
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