Big Black Book

bad ass book of doom? not quite yet...

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Overrated & Underrated!






This is another love child spawned out of comments on hazardous blogging. Who's the father? I can proudly say it's tokmoh. Here's the link to the mother of this child. -Hazardous Blogging-

Saw? I used to debate with Chips Yap in motortrader's forum abt Honda Civic winning 2007's Car of the Year award, and how Ford Focus mk2 is sooooo underrated here. Come on, Ford Focus, for God's sake!! It may look boring and Toyota-ish at first sight, but park it in an Ikea store, you suddenly can see its elegant Swedish-ness in its design language. It's also very practical with a very spacious boot, spacious interior, and then there's the handling: it is the best in its class, it's German engineered!! Reliability? Well, Clarkson used to own a Focus mk1 for 7 years, and he said it never go wrong, not even once no matter how badly he thrashed it!! Best of all, it's cheaper than the Honda Civic, anytime, the Focus is much, much better than the Civic, at least in UK.

[sarcasm]But all those people ever thought in rewarding the CotY is "2nd hand value good ah?"[/sarcasm]

Some time later, I managed to meet with Denis Wong, Autocar Asean's editor, and you know what he said about Focus' quality? It's worse than the Civic. I wonder if he actually knew our Focus is made in Philippines, while our Civic is made in Melaka, which have earned a reputation as Proton's QC partner-in-crime. There's even an 11-page thread in lowyat abt how lousy Honda CKD's quality is. He also said the Focus isn't as powderful as Civic, and then there's the 4-speed auto 'box. I never remembered the Focus 2.0 is built to race, and what's wrong with 4-speed 'box? The latest Altis also have 4-speed 'box, and yet, they'd still shower it with praises bcuz "it's a Toyota."


You can blame Civic's overratedness on the ad campaign Honda went on. Remember the Rising Spirit ad? I still do. What did Ford do about marketing? Did not even see a single ad on tv. If they are serious about reviving the Ford brand which kinda 'died' years ago, they should have invested in marketing.

Civic 1.8s - RM 113,800
Focus 1.8Ghia - RM 110,888

Civic 2.0s - RM 128,800
Focus 2.0Sport - RM 121,388

For the same engine capacity, you actually save more. But savings is only one factor in determining the recipient for the COTY. And so is second hand value. But look at what marketing have done for the Civic? Everyone knows that Civic is a great car. Look at the console. Fuiyo! Damn gaya! From the apeks in the kopitiams to the yuppies in their Coffee Beans & Starbucks, everyone knows what a Civic is! Moreover, the Civic is backed up by its numerous service centres all over the country.




The last model before Ford re-entered Malaysia that I remember was the Laser. Excluding all those 4x4 trucks la of course.. People are worried about the brand. Where do I get my car serviced if it broke down? Can any workshop iron out my problems? How can I be sure they are using genuine parts? Will this problem occur again?

1.8 i-VTEC - 140PS/6,300rpm ; 174Nm/4,300rpm
1.8 Duratec - 131PS/6,000rpm ; 165Nm/4,000rpm

2.0 i-VTEC - 155PS/6,500rpm ; 188Nm/4,500rpm
2.0 Duratec - 146PS/6,000rpm ; 185Nm/4,500rpm

In terms of performance on paper, the Focus is not far behind from the Civic. But still the Civic inches ahead. Did not manage to get the 0-60mph times of both cars. About handling, I think both cars are equally good. Both are FF cars. So I think they should be evenly matched in the handling department. Did not manage to get their kerb weight either. Built to race or as a daily family car, people will still look at its performance specs. People will give comments like, "No power la!" or the opposite "Makan petrol la!". However, part of those comments hold true. Some people just want an ideal car which is both powerful and gentle on fuel economy. For those kind of people, I'd tell them to just buy an electric car. Go for the Tesla, stay away from the Focus or Civic. Let's get back to topic, savvy?



Both cars are on par when we're talking about performance. They might be side to side on the twisties but with the higher engine output, the Civic will eventually inch ahead of the Focus on the straights. (The only reason I still hold on to the Focus is because of the WRC. Marcus Gronholm rules!!! Eat my dust Evo!)


Marketing is very important. Civic was sold as a stylish young executive car which could still afford a little weekend thrill at the local race track. How was the Focus marketed? Ads of 'Rising Spirit' were everywhere! You see them on the tv, in the newspapers and even here online! Where was the Focus?

Branding is also very important. Honda has been a very established brand here in Malaysia even before the 'Rising Spirit' campaign came up. The Civic already has a cult following here with its followers worshipping the VTEC technology. The sales of Honda vehicles was also increasing steadily. Look at the amount of Honda City on the road now. Those numbers would have been Proton Wiras' a few years back. No I'm not joking, the next time when you're on the road, do count the number of Honda City you see. People trust the brand, the brand will do anything to prevent their staff or their technology to go wrong. Where was Ford's campaign to beef up its name? Sadly they are no where to be found. Maybe a page or two in our local papers. Aaahh.. I remember now. The only commercial from Ford I saw on tv was the Ford Ranger. Built To Last. Is that it? Where was the one for the Focus? All the reasons why Civic should receive the COTY (Car of the year) Award.

What do you think? Did I miss out anything?
Do comment with an open mind.
~I can't find the Rising Spirit ad now, anyone willing to help me? I'm sure you'll remember it since it was everywhere when it came out.

12 Comment(s):

tokmoh said...

Heheh, 2 topics spawned out of that post, eh?

Yea, a part of Focus' failure would have to be Ford Malaysia's lack of advertising and awareness for the model. One outcome from my debate with Chips Yap was that he told me he'll address the matter to Ford Malaysia's management. I never find out whether it really reached the ears of those dimwit lazy farts.

I have to say, Ford Malaysia is one hell of a half, or probably no-hearted company. They closed down the Ipoh branch, they didn't bother to train their salesperson to be customer-friendly (lots of complaint from those who visit showrooms about how unfriendly their salesperson are), blablabla. They simply relied on their reputation of making tough trucks, but that also didn't help them at all. From motortrader sales report, Toyota Hilux and Mitsu Triton sell much, much better than Ranger, despite them both to be more expensive and... less 'tough'?

Just last December, Sime Darby has taken over Ford Malaysia as the sole distributor of the brand. Well, I can only hope for Sime Darby to do something to educate Malaysians of how great their product is, and the desperate need to improvise their business system to be as efficient, if not better than Honda's!!

http://biz.thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2007/12/29/business/19876679&sec=business

About reliability, as I said, it's proven to be very solid. As for spare parts… *points at Ford Malaysia*. We all know how pedantic Clarkson is. To have garnered his praise would be like managing to land a man on the Sun. And just look at the quotes for the Focus mk2:

http://www.ford.com.my/servlet/ContentServer?cid=1137383417683&pagename=FOM%2FDFYImage%2FDefault&c=DFYImage

All the big names of British motor press have only the best praises for the Focus, why can't the local ones feel the same? Why didn't they bash Ford Malaysia for failing to make it a best-seller, the impetus they needed to bring back Ford saloon lineups back to Malaysia?

Civic a great car? I was never fond of that digital speedo, analog ftw!! Overall, the Civic is too average to be considered great, and the only outstanding feature worth ooh and ahh-ing is its digital speedo. I'd probably get excited if they bring in the Europe's Civic with its Gundam-ish styling cues, but nope. Instead, we get a design that came off from a lunch break.

Civic has been around for generations, therefore they have built a cult following as you said. To challenge Civic, one needs to be bold with the product, and most importantly, trust from the consumers. There are quite a number of Ford Focus mk1 owners in Malaysia actually, and if I were Ford Malaysia's PR manager, I would've approached and quote them on how they think Focus is a very, very reliable car, it makes Honda's VTEC look like a stone age tech.

And when they've gained trust from the people, they can sell more, make more profit, open more branches, expand; it keeps on going like a chain reaction. But nope, they lost sight of their intention to "bring back Ford saloon lineups into the Malaysian market."

That is Ford Malaysia's failure. It's about time Sime Darby do an "Air Asia" thing in this Civic vs Focus feud. Since my debate with Chips, we have two more contenders: Altis and Lancer.

Lancer, have increased the price recently, and became pretty expensive, and the 1-year waiting list. ONE YEAR. You sanggup wait one year for your car?!?! Also, even Paul thinks the interior of Persona is better than Lancer’s, a big letdown since its exterior is very attractive.

Altis, ugh......"it's a Toyota." Nuff said.

Focus then, is the clear winner here, if talking by car terms alone. But as I learnt now, it's not the product that is the success factor, it's the business system. Honda and Toyota have good business system, so no matter how friggin expensive or rubbish their cars are, the buying will continue. Indirectly, this'll be a major factor in determining a car's second value.

Ford Focus = win

Ford Malaysia = f**king noob biatch, go f**k off in hell!! U tak mau buat business, u keluar dari Malaysia!!!

Sime Darby = hm......gambatte?

Oh, another thing: Focus RS is coming next year, and it'll pwn Civic Type-R kaw kaw, muahahahahahahahahahaha!! 5-cylinder turbocharged? 280-300hp? Bring it on!!!

kevin said...

not much time to comment.

CIVIC : hate the dash, hate the big on the outside but small on the inside looks, its japanese. no soul.

FOCUS : totally underrated here, great cabin space, easy on fuel, good power, service a bit kacau compared to honda.

tokmoh said...

I just noticed this:

"So I think they should be evenly matched in the handling department."

Nonnononononononono, next to Focus's legendary cross blade rear suspension developed in Focus mk1 for WRC, any other hatchback aside from Gen2 and Golf GTi looks like it's made of satay sticks. The great news is, they've further improved it with the Focus mk2.

The media should be held responsible too. In Britain, I think Ford Focus' marketing isn't as lavish as Honda Civic's rising spirit, it's because they've earned a great love from the British's motorists, with the aid of media exposure as well. Just look at all the praises the British motor journalist have given to the Focus, compared to ours? I remembered someone quoting Evo Malaysia magazine: "If you buy with your heart, get the Focus. If you buy with your brain, get the Civic."

WTFOMGBBQPWNED?!?!?! It should be:

"If you buy with advice from a car enthusiast or expert, get the Focus. If you buy with advice from an accountant, get the Civic."

THe Focus can make Henry Ford drop tears of joy from up in heaven. It is built with his philosophy and vision to make a cheap but brilliant and reliable car that can shame its more expensive competitors.

The Civic, makes Soichiro Honda-sama walks around with a box mask. Engineering innovation is what Honda-sama wanted in every model that rolled out of his factory, thus mediocrity is NOT an option. The Civic, unfortunately did.

Vincent said...

Sorry this is the 4th time I'm typing this comment. Grrr.. Sudah type panjang panjang then hilang.. Ok here goes..

Aaaawww.. come on tokmoh! You gotta give the Civic some credit! How can you say it's mediocre when so many are running around on the road? No no it doesn't only depend on marketing. Consumers bukannya bodoh, boleh bsing dan boleh BOYCOTT.. lol.. It doesn't really depend on marketing to sell the Civic. If it's a bad car, no matter how good the marketing is, the car just won't sell.

Look at the exterior and tell me it's mediocre. There's nothing mediocre about it! It's beautiful! You will surely notice if a Civic pass by you. No matter how many times it did.. The only grudge I have about the exterior is that the tail don't match the overall package somehow.. Looks awkward at times..

Let's go inside shall we? Try sitting inside and tell me it's boring! You have to try this one out. Seriously. The dashboard gives you a very spacious and wide feeling. It's as though as the dashboard extends towards the horizon. Then look at the driver's side. You have the double tiered console. The speedo on the top and the tacho below it. Who doesn't love the digital blue glowing speedo? Hmmm.. Maybe purists like you, tokmoh who prefers anologues.. It's unique in the market for a digital speedo that looks nice.. Looks a lot better than the one in the S2000. I believe a small group of purchasers bought the Civic straight away after looking at the digital speedo. I love how the handbrake and the gear stick looks. It's very matching and nice to look at. Haha..

About handling.. Hmmm.. Sorry my mistake, I did not take into account Ford's foray into WRC although I did mention it about something else. Ok the Focus might inch further forward than the Civic around the bends but still when the road straightens out, the Civic will overtake the Focus with that extra few horses. Still evenly matched!

Tokmoh now it's getting a bit absurd. How can you compare a turbo car with a NA oned? Of course a turbocharged engine will put out more power than a NA engine of the same capacity. Yes I know if Focus vs Civic then Focus RS vs Civic Type R. But when it reaches that level, it's a totally different ball game. Look at the K20A engine in the Type R. It's a 2.0 litre NA engine pushing out an impressive 220bhp. That's more than the 100bhp/litre mark. Most 2.0litre engines will produce between 160-180bhp. But this 2.0Litre i-VTEC pushes out 220bhp! Bolt on a supercharger or a turbocharger and it's ready to take on the RS!

Consumers want something different, something exciting. Thus Honda delivered. Soichiro Honda papa up there won't be crying tok moh, he'll be smiling.

I don't think this is going anywhere. Dengar ajer Focus tokmoh sudah naik stim. I'm kinda a die-hard fan for the current Civic. We should have those cars in Sepang and try them out. At least we'll get somewhere! lol..

kev : no soul? how can you say that?

jėss.T said...

wasai... comment box become essay box

XD

kevin said...

vincent : *stands up* i dont like the digital dash. i dont like blue dials on dash.

the last time i saw a civic on the way to penang, KCA 616 new car, doing 160kmh. terbang wei. then it started to rain. 15 min down the road. i saw KCA 616 depan belakang hancur! HAHAHAHHA.

jess : tokmoh biase post blog on ppl's comment. hihihi.

jėss.T said...

wahh then syeok la that tokmoh! =) got lotsa things to say!


goodgood

Vincent said...

now my moh moh hilang.. oi! come back n fight wit me!

kevin : biasa la they all tuu.. Friend's rx7 crashed the same way..

jėss.T said...

mohmoh? ewwwwwwwwwwwww... ehich part of yr mohmoh. never shave ka?

XD

Vincent said...

tokmoh stand up n defend ya self!

tokmoh said...

Sory, been busy with some stuff, but I did drop a comment last Mon!! Dam blogspot n wordpress!! Here I go again, sigh......

Consumers bukannya bodoh? O rly? I think I've spotted more Rush than my fingers can count, tell me just how bodoh our ppl are to buy that overpriced good-for-nothing SUV wanna-be......

Exterior feels just like any other Jap saloon, it certainly has no zesty Gundam-ish madness its European sibling has. The current Civic is remembered for that (futuristic design), taking that away n replacing it with well, what we get is mediocre. The Focus meanwhile, looks very Swedish, n no one can deny Swedish design roxXxorZz, everyone wants to Ikea-fy every corner of their house.

Hoho, the interior gave me the creep actually, do they have to use BEIGE?!?!?! Seriously, they got the color wrong, absolutely wrong, tsk tsk tsk....

Straight line speed vs cornering ability, eh? Got watch JC did a Ford Mustang vs Lotus Elise test before? In the end, the Lotus won, despite the Mustang being much, much more powerful n faster in straight line, as the Lotus eats it at corners, wakakakakaka

Walau, talk engine of cuz la VTEC pwn everyone else kaw kaw, but be aware: K20A needs RON100 to get 220bhp, so impossible to achieve in Msia. Hm...rather than RS, the Focus ST would be a more realistic rival to Type-R. If u read an Autocar Asean issue sometime last yr, there's one where they did a 14 hot hatch test, n I remember the Focus ST was better overall than Civic, wakkakak. A life owning a hot hatch (or saloon, since we get the saloon version here) is more than just driving it on the track. On normal road, the Focus ST is much, much more comfortable than the Civic, wahahahaha.

If consumers want something different and exciting, the Focus can do the job much, much better than the Civic. Their fear of "bad 2nd hand value" is what prevented them from buying it. Such a pity Ford Malaysia failed and disappointed me. Very, veeeeeery disappointing, tsk tsk tsk...

That's called influenced by emotions mah...orewa daisuki Focus, yehehehehehe.

Wanna go Sepang? Can...we become motor journalist la, wakakakakaka

Sory if this response kinda cincai, rly frustrated last time comment lesap into thin air for nothing aih...Also, cuz I wanna go lunch n sambung marathon CODE GEASS: Lelouch of the Rebellion, wakakakakak

Later~

Vincent said...

I know that feeling tokmoh, mine lesap 3 times n it all happened here in my own blog! It's ok.

Hmmm.. The Rush memang really over-priced. Civic might be over-priced a bit too. I feel if it goes around RM100k it would fit just nicely. Oh talking about pricing, just by looking at the new Perodua Natica and comparing it to it's RM 89,900 is really really crazy! I won't pay that much for a Perodua..

Ok let's get back to topic. Who says the Focus looks better? The Civic's front light is unlike any other vehicle's. It's has that weird but flowing kinda shape which makes it even more special. On the other hand, the Focus looks more or less like other hatchbacks. It has the same traditional three phase design, maybe in the Focus, it's two. The front end and the passenger cabin. Don't get me? The Civic's front end is short for such a big car. Most sedan it's size would have a longer bonnet to fit in the engine. In the Civic's case, it's shorten up to provide more room for the passenger cabin. That difference in a few inches up front makes it very unusual in this part of the world.

Well.. The dreadful beige.. Almost all luxury cars come with beige interior and wood paneling. Not that I'm saying the Civic is one. I think to them (The manufacturers, not only Honda) beige = luxury = class = elegance and bla bla bla... I would have black if there is such an option.

Oh please tokmoh not that comparison. Civic is no Mustang. It doesn't have that ancient leaf spring suspension which I don't know why Ford put it in their Mustang! Bodo mia Ford... =p And the Focus is no Elise either. Little ground clearance. Rear mid engine, rear wheel drive setup. Short wheelbase. 720kg. 0 - 60mph in 5.8 seconds. Close ratio gearbox. Low final drive ratio. No radio. Optional A/C. Two doors. Very very stunning looks. 4 biji headlamps. Hmmm.. Sounds more like an Elise rather than a Focus. True enough the Focus might have WRC suspension setups but still it doesn't make it an Elise. The Civic is one of the finest handling car in the FF section, it doesn't qualify the Mustang title in this comparison. Put it out on the track it'll be a close battle. It all depends on the driver. The better driver would take the finish line.

Eating up the corners on track and soaking up the pothholes of Malaysia? Both those two situations definately doesn't go together. To take corners at high speed, you will need a harder suspension setup which will give you a backache and and sore butt if you take it out on the open roads full with potholes. As there is no such thing with high power good fuel economy. You can't have the best of both worlds here.

Owh.. Really? RON100 is needed to achieve that figure? Did not hear that before.. Well it's not that flexible but still it has the better engine than the Focus.

Huh? Autocar Asean did a test for 14 best hot hatches and the Civic was in it? The Euro one? Our Civic here is definately not a hatchback. For some reasons, it was called Euro R if I remember correctly. But it doesn't deserve the R badging. It should just stay Civic Euro. It's a nice looking car but that against the ST? How can that be? It's unfair! *mocks Autocar Asean*
The Type-R would be a better opponent compared to the wimpy Euro R.

When I saw the Focus in Tesco. My first impression of it was, it was very very Hyundai-like.. Yea I know hyundai is coming up. But it gives you the impression of the previous version of Accent.

Still the Civic is better than the Focus! =)