Ford Expands Manual Transmission Availability On Ford Focus
By Carl Malek
Following in the wake of Chevrolet’s recent announcement of a manual transmission option throughout most of the 2012 Cruze model lineup, Car and Driver magazine reports that Ford is also planning to expand availability of a shift-it-yourself 5 speed manual transmission to Ford Focus Titanium models. This announcement should please enthusiasts that wish to row through the gears themselves when the road get twisty.
Currently, Ford only offers a manual transmission in either the entry level S model or the mainstream oriented SE model. C/D claims that only 7 percent of Ford Focus buyers equipped a manual transmission to their vehicle versus the optional six speed dual clutch “Power Shift” automatic transmission. Despite this low buy rate number, Ford thinks there is enough consumer demand for a manual equipped range topping model to justify offering this option to consumers. The SEL version of the Focus which sits between the SE and the Titanium model in the Focus lineup, will not be affected by this change and will continue offering the dual clutch automatic as its only transmission choice for the foreseeable future.
Ford’s decision to broaden the availability of a stick shift option is thanks mainly in part to slower than expected sales numbers, with the Focus only seeing a slight 2 percent increase in sales last year, this despite an extensive redesign of the car for the 2011 model year. As a result of these poor numbers, the Focus has fallen behind key rivals including the Chevrolet Cruze, and the Hyundai Elantra in the sales race.
In addition to the slow pace of sales, the Focus’s dual clutch automatic transmission (which is currently the sole transmission offering in the top-end Titanium model) has also come under increased scrutiny by both consumers and car critics alike due to its disappointing performance in a number of key performance areas including low speed shifting behavior and overall reliability. In addition to its woeful performance out on the street, the dual clutch automatic was also cited as a key factor in Ford’s poor showing in last year’s J.D. Power and Associates Initial Quality Study along with the equally notorious MyFord Touch entertainment system.
The magazine claims that five speed equipped Focus Titaniums will begin arriving at your local Ford dealer sometime this spring, which should give winter weary consumers the perfect vehicle to kick old man winter to the curb and start the upcoming season in a more engaging way.