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.

Author: Carl Malek

Carl Malek is Autosavant’s resident German car fanatic and follower of all things General Motors. Carl first entered the world of automotive journalism as a freelance photographer during his freshman year of college before making the switch to automotive writing several years later. Carl developed an interest in cars at an early age, which helped him overcome the challenges of a learning disability in mathematics. In addition to writing for Autosavant community, Carl also contributes to many car forums and enjoys attending automotive events in the Metro Detroit area with his family. Carl’s message for others with learning disorders is to believe in yourself, be persistent, and face all challenges head on.

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4 Comments

  1. This is good news, but Ford really needs to update the manual gearbox to a 6-speed.

    Regarding the dual clutch automatic, I drove a Focus so equipped for about a week, and I think one of the biggest reasons this gearbox has recieved so much criticism is that most people expect it to behave just like a regular automatic with a torque converter. I’m not trying to say the PowerShift is perfect, but people need to understand that it is more like a manual with automatic capabilities than a true automatic.

    As an aside, one part of the PowerShift that makes no sense to me is the decision to use a little rocker button on the gear lever rather than steering wheel paddles to shift the gearbox manually. The rocker button does not fall readily to hand and is generally not as easy to use as paddles. Why Ford invested so much money to develop a dual clutch gearbox only to de-emphasize the enthusiast capabilites with the stupid rocker button I’ll never understand.

  2. I agree with you Luke and Ford is not the only maker to use a rocker button for manual shifting GM also uses a similar feature in some of their models. Personally instead of a rocker switch for up and down shifts I would like to see more automakers use either the fore mentioned paddle shifters or a separate shifter gate setup that’s used by companys such as Chrysler, Mazda, and many European makes

  3. I don’t understand why they don’t offer the superb 6 way stick that have been available in Europe all the way for the Titanium (among others) trim levels? That’s what I have, along with the great 150 hp Ecoboost turbo petrol. I don’t understand the “World Focus” commitment when something as important as engine and powertrain offerings are so dramatically different?

  4. I just ordered the manual Titanium.(even the dealer had not heard that Ford was offering it) I was a WRX driver but changed to an earth friendlier FORD and know it was built here putting Americans to work. I want the quicker pick up of a manual and the nicer interior of the Titanium. I am old and I want to drive a bit more in comfort. The Impreza interior is SAD. I loved the WRX but the turbo was a waste as I do not speed. Most of the hatchbacks in this size do not offer a nice interior and manual transmission in the same car.

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