Most people likely look at a compact car like the Ford Focus and assume that it’s a little fuel-efficient commuter vehicle for the city. Those people likely have not seen the new performance-oriented Focus RS. The little 2.3-litre EcoBoost engine may sound like a modest four-banger, but it’s turbocharged and tuned to develop some 350 horsepower and 350 lb-ft of torque. This is not your average grocery-getter and it’s on display at the Vancouver International Auto Show this week.
I was invited out by the kind people at Ford for a special media preview event yesterday. We were introduced to the newest additions to the Ford (and Lincoln) family and the all-wheel-drive Focus RS was certainly one of the highlights. If you’re looking for some rally-inspired fun that’s road-ready, the Focus RS can certainly hold its own against the Subaru WRX STi or the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution.
The safety and technology features that we highlighted in the video from last year’s show carry over to the current lineup, of course, but further refinements and improvements have been implemented too.
The 2017 Ford Fusion has received a mid-cycle refresh and update. There’s a new Sport model with a 2.7L twin-turbo V6 developing 325 horsepower. You also get loads of tech, like the pre-collision assist, adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go, and park assist for both parallel and perpendicular parking.
You’ll also notice that the traditional shift knob is visibly absent. It’s been replaced by a rotary dial instead. This is a curious choice and you might almost mistake it as the controller for the SYNC 3 infotainment system.
Up until recently, I’ve always been someone who gravitated toward sport compacts. Now that I’m a stay-at-home dad, I understand and appreciate the appeal of the SUV (and I don’t want a minivan). Apparently, I’m not alone.
Ford representatives told us that SUVs will make up a projected 40% of the Canadian automotive market within the next few years. That’s why Ford is so dedicated to ensuring they approach this segment of the market as strongly and as intelligently as possible. The new Ford Escape is one such example with plenty of tech, plenty of hauling power, and a more rugged-looking design. Using the smartphone app, you can remotely lock, unlock, and even start the Escape from wherever you are.
Where the option is available, 4WD/AWD is hugely popular among Ford customers. The uptake is somewhere around 90% on the larger Explorer, hitting around the 80% and 70% mark on the Edge and the Escape, respectively. You can probably attribute that to Canadian winters, even among the more mild climes of Vancouver.
One sub-segment among SUVs that Ford doesn’t yet approached is the one more recently created by vehicles like the Honda HR-V and the Mazda CX-3. You might call these sub-compact crossovers, catering to “car” people who want a little more space and utility. Ford did say that, globally, they plan on unveiling five brand new nameplates by 2020. At least one of those could be a smaller crossover.
Maybe those Matthew McConaughey commercials worked, because Lincoln has been experiencing some remarkable growth. Sales have increased by about 16% in Canada. That’s no small feat and they’re looking to continue that positive trend with the new Lincoln Continental.
If you’re into quiet luxury, this could be for you. The 30-way adjustable seats even allow you to independently adjust the extenders for your left and right thighs. You want to be comfortable while listening to the 19 speakers of the Revel Ultima audio system, right?
The 2016 Vancouver International Auto Show runs until this Sunday, March 27 at the Vancouver Convention Centre West. General admission tickets are $16 today, going up to $18 for the remainder of the show. Check out the rest of the photo gallery through the embedded slideshow below.