Small and Mighty
Having owned three Ford Focus’ over the years the prospect of trying out the new mark three was pretty exciting. Then I learned the car I would be testing would have Ford’s brand new 1.0T EcoBoost engine nestled under the bonnet.
Surely an engine of such small proportions lugging around a c-segment hatch is a recipe for disaster. Could it cope with such a tough task and still return decent economy? Read on to find out…
It’s common knowledge that the first generation Focus was a game-changer. Visually it stood out from the crowd with its ‘new edge’ lines and clever use of triangles. It looked far better than any of its rivals and still cuts a dash today. The second generation lost a lot of this charm looking for like a squashed Mondeo – itself a rather safe design.
This new Focus is a return to form. Finally it looks interested again. From the massive stretched-back rear lights to the aggressive front lower bumper. It all gels together well to resemble a larger, more sophisticated Fiesta – which is no bad thing. No doubt purists will miss the trademark high mounted taillights but the result here is generally good looking. The car I tested had ‘Titanium’ trim so is helped further with bigger 17” wheels, bits of chrome trim here and there and a neat spoiler all in Candy Red – a colour that suits this car very well.
The Focus’ cabin is a really great place to spend time. The design of the dashboard is clearly a throwback to the original Focus with its jutting angles and prominent centre stack. Everything is where you would expect to find it and works perfectly. The materials used are also well thought out to give a good impression of quality although the rough plastics in many places don’t ooze quality as those in a Golf do.
Kit on the Titanium model I tested was more than generous with standard fit DAB radio, cruise control, Bluetooth/USB input for the stereo, LED mood lighting, dual zone climate control, automatic lights and wipers and a heated front windscreen. It’s also refreshing to see a good quota of the latest safety kit included in the £850 Drive Assistance Pack. This includes Active City Stop, Lane Departure Warning, Lane Keeping Aid, Traffic Sign Recognition, Driver Alert, Blind Spot Info and Auto High Beam.
The new Focus is a touch smaller than the model it replaces so cabin space is a little down from before. Front space is decent although there is no hiding the fact that the dashboard and wide centre stock rob the front seat passenger of vital leg and hip space. Room in the back is more limited, two adults will be perfectly happy with good headroom but the reduced width of the cabin makes carrying three across the bench a pinch. There are rivals that are more accommodating but there are also many that are on-par with the Focus. That said the boot is a good size and a really usable shape and the rear seats fold flat for larger items.
Thrilling handling with plenty of driver involvement and a well sorted ride are a Focus trademark. The new Focus changes the mix slightly. There is no hiding that body control is still superb as are grip levels. The ride is also beautifully balanced even when riding on 17” rims. What has changed is that the driver’s connection to the road through the car’s controls is a little blunted as a result of much improved refinement. The steering isn’t quite as direct as before, the gearbox although perfectly smooth also feels a little less mechanical in its action. Thankfully the new-found refinement is a welcome addition that 90% of buyers will be grateful for, Overall the drive on offer still edges everything else in its class.
Just like the rest of the package the engine is also quietly brilliant. Experiences of 1.0 litre engines in the past must be erased from memory to truly understand what’s going on under the bonnet. The unit is tiny; 998cc with only three cylinders but it has direct injection, a small turbocharger, stop-start and amazingly still kicks out 123bhp. It’s a superb engine that fits well with the Focus’ character. The sounds it makes are fruity and the punch on offer come as quite a surprise. It’s also impressively refined even under fairly hard acceleration and vibrations are minimal. Although Ford tell us that 67.3 mpg is achievable on a mixed cycle, I managed 43mg. Obviously some way off what’s expected but still pretty good considering the pace and fun on offer – this isn’t an underpowered car. The example I tested also only had 5,000 miles under its belt so I would expect economy to improve as the miles piled on.
Ford Focus 1.0T EcoBoost Titanium
Price as tested: £22,240
Engine: 1.0 litre 12v 123bhp – 0-62mph: 11.3secs
Maximum Speed: 120 mph –
Economy: 44.8mpg (urban) –67.3mpg (extra-urban), 56.5mpg (combined)
Emissions: 109g/km (Band B) – VED (12 months): £20
“The third generation Focus is; as it has always been, a superb all-rounder. It drives very well, looks distinctive, is well built and boasts some really great safety kit. The EcoBoost engine lives up to the expectations, it’s punchy, refined and cheap to run. Admittedly the Focus has lost a little cabin space and driving thrills but it has gained a new found level of refinement and that for many makes it the most complete, broadly talented car in its class.”