Quite a few things, from the simple joy of good ergonomics to the complex engineering of what Ford would call ‘Control Blade Suspension’ and ‘Revoknuckle’. But as that’s a list that even a laundry would refuse, we might have to do without a thorough nut-and-bolt assessment.
But that’s OK, because the Focus was never about one thing, one piece of good design or engineering. We don’t even know if suits still talk about synergy (or if they ever did the David Brent finger interlacing), but it’s synergy, at its core, that makes the Focus great: the parts were generally good, but the car was much more than the sum of those parts. So we’re OK to generalise, because we’ll still get the point across.
Like describing the handling – describing the complex interplay of camber, caster, spring rate and damping force is unnecessary when you can sum up the result with a simple ‘Generally, it was brilliant’. In the main, in fact, it was absolutely brilliant – with the sort of feel (and dare we say, focus) that instils confidence in the machine you’re controlling. Whether the driver used that confidence to explore ever-larger fractions of commitment, concentration and car control – perhaps even the fabled ten tenths – or just appreciated how solid the Focus felt on commutes and car trips, was really up to the driver and the spec level they’d bought.
But the handling, which was arguably the Focus’s main selling point (well, at least for people who share our point of view on what B-roads are for) never came at the expense of ride quality, interior comfort or... well, expense. In fact, if we had to point to one lasting effect of the Ford Focus, it has to be how it democratised good-handling, enjoyable cars.