Monday, March 7, 2016


Boca Woods Country Club

Once again back on the highways and byways of southern Florida, with beautiful winter weather, immaculate golf courses and unfriendly natives!

Golf Course manager Dave, and a native!

I turn to my regular car provider, Avis, for some economical transport.
First up is a 2015 Ford Focus hatchback.

On the back it's wearing a ‘Flex Fuel’ badge. I’m not quite certain just what that means! I just refueled with Regular 89 octane plus ethanol.

The most obvious first impression is the great steering and handling.

The Focus has great driving characteristics, and it points very well.

The performance of the 1.6L four is quite acceptable and the interior is roomy enough for four big adults.
On the Limit (70 mph) across Alligator Alley
The trunk? Well that’s another story.

Trekking across ‘Alligator Alley’ from Fort Lauderdale to visit friends in Fort Myers, the Focus recorded an impressive average fuel economy of 40.5 mpg (5.2 L/100km)!

However, within an hour we had sore bums! The seats are simply not designed for comfortable long distance travel.

Surprisingly, most of the other Ford Focus’ we saw were hatchbacks, which is quite a change in preference for the American market, which traditionally favors three-box sedans.

So then we get a flat tyre and on goes the space-saver spare, which means the Focus can’t be driven at speeds above 50mph (80 kmh), and if you were to share the freeways with the locals travelling at that speed you would get honked into oblivion!

NY-registered Rio, escaping the snow to sunny Florida!

Back to Avis, and all they can offer for the remainder of the rental period is a Kia Rio four-door sedan with a 1.4L engine.

Now, an interesting comparison. The Kia is on the lowest rung of any rental car ladder I’ve experienced. It's the epitome of basic!

However, whilst the performance is forgettable (wheezing, breathless acceleration), the car is just as roomy as the Focus, and the trunk swallowed both our 62cm suitcases, plus hand luggage, and other odds and ends.

In the Focus we just squeezed the big bags in the trunk. Everything else, hand luggage, duty free and other bits and pieces were on the back seat!
Two 62cm cases, and lots of room for more in the Rio trunk!

Fuel economy over two days was an impressive 4.4 L/100km, and while it struggled to keep up with the freeway traffic flow, it was quiet, robust, well-built and thoroughly acceptable.

To me, it’s just further evidence that Hyundai-Kia has come a long way in designing and making excellent quality cars, and it is facing a very bright future in the USA, as its J.D. Power IQS (Initial Quality Study) scores are shooting up the chart.

Oh, and by the way, another win over the more expensive Ford Focus. The Ford Sync system for pairing smartphones and Bluetooth devices sucks. It took us many attempts over 30 minutes just to get an iPhone paired! How hard is that? Ford needs to rethink the Sync.

In the Kia Rio, it took less than two minutes! That shows how fast the Koreans are learning.

World domination?

Maybe not, but they are well worth considering.

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