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Exterior Design: zero stars
It's fugly. I feel like Ford asked three designers to work on separate designs for the 2008 Focus. Then the designers sat down with Ford's executive team and, rather than have to be mean to any one of the designers, they just used all of the designs. At once. We've awarded the 2008 Focus no stars and may God have mercy on Ford's soul.

Interior Design: ****
The front cockpit is plush and well-appointed when fully optioned out. The optional leather seats are fantastic and as good, if not better, than those found in the Mustang. There's some craptastic plastic on the door panels, for which I left one star by the side of the John C. Lodge Freeway, but elsewhere in the cabin I was very impressed with the quality level.

Acceleration: **
With that engine whine, it certainly sounds like it should be accelerating. However the other cars on the road moving past you tell a different story.

Braking: ***
The front disc and rear drum brakes provide adequate braking. Nothing special here and certainly nothing exciting. Although it's not like there's a lot of horses to have to reign in either.

Ride: ****
The teeth-chattering of the previous model was significantly diminished. Still not as smooth a ride as you'd hope for given the price, but better. Maybe Ford could disregard any upgrades to the suspension in favor of just making those bucket leather seats standard. Rear seat passengers however, would still be left on their own and with their own tooth repair bills.

Handling: ****
Just like the last Focus, the new one takes the corners quite well and without drama.

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Gearbox: ****
The five-speed manual in the Focus is a smooth operator, easily sliding through gears. My assumption is a short-shifter will more than likely be the first option a buyer of the manny-tranny Focus will be picking up at their local aftermarket shop.

Audio/Video: ***
The up-optioned stereo of the test vehicle comes complete with Sirius radio and Sony speakers. Still, the volume wasn't loud enough to send my head swimming, so the target teen demographic's not going to be too happy with that. No DVD player option, but I'm sure there will be greedy aftermarketers ready to supply the boppers with LCD screens.

Toys: *****
Sync. Ambient lighting system. Sync. Heated seats. Sync. 'Nuff said. Wait...Sync, Sync, Sync, Sync, Sync.

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Trunk: ****
Even without the seats down the trunk is large. With the seats down, it's ginormous. In fact it's so big I almost deduct a point because I realized it was probably why that rear-end sight line-destroying trunk-lid is so high. Instead, I'll deduct one point for the very clunky subwoofer housing that seems to take up way too much space.

Value: **
I don't think the base model Focus is worth the money — even if Sync's included in the SES trim and even if you consider it gets almost 35 MPG. But this may be one of those rare occasions where adding more options actually increases the value. Once you add the leather bucket seats for $695, the ambient lighting for $295, Sirius for $195 and heated seats for $115 — you've got a rather kitted-up car. The only problem is you've now got a car that's exceeding $18K and approaching $20K. That's a lot of money for the demographic Ford is targeting.

Overall: ***
Without Sync this car is overpriced and entirely unmemorable. With Sync, it's slightly more memorable — but requires such a hefty price in optional accessories it's difficult for me to find a demographic it's right for.

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Related:
Jalopnik Reviews: 2008 Ford Focus Coupe, Part 1