Having owned a number of Ford Focus’ over the years, the prospect of trying out the new third generation model is pretty exciting. Then I learned that the car I would be testing would have a 998cc petrol engine tucked away under the bonnet. An engine of such tiny proportions lugging around a c-segment hatch would be a recipe for disaster surely? Much to my surprise this could not be further from the truth
The engine in question is a new 1.0T EcoBoost unit and that T stands for turbo which means that Ford claim that it’s small but mighty in the power it serves up and achievable economy it’s capable of. The question is how good is this third-iteration Focus and can an engine as tiny as this cope with such a tough task and still return decent economy?
It’s common knowledge that the first generation Focus was a revelation for Ford and anyone that drove one. Visually it stood out from the crowd with its sharp ‘New edge’ lines making it look far better than any of its rivals and it still cuts a dash today. The second generation lost a lot of this charm looking more like a squashed Mondeo – itself a rather safe design.
This new Focus is a return to form, finally looking interesting 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 model photographed and tested here is a Titanium so sits on ig 17 inch wheels, has chrome trim here and there and a neat spoiler. Candy Red is also a colour that suits the Focus 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 well. The materials used are also well thought out to give a good impression of quality, although the rough plastics lower down do however lack the quality feel found in a Golf for example.
Kit on Titanium models is also 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.
It’s a touch smaller than the model it replaces so cabin space is a little tighter than before, and there is no hiding the fact that the dashboard and wide centre stack rob front seat passengers 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 squeeze. Many rivals 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 when you need to carry larger items.
Thrilling handling with plenty of driver involvement and a well sorted ride are a Focus trademark. The new model changes the mix slightly. There is no hiding the fact that body control is still superb as are grip levels. The ride is also beautifully balanced even when riding on the big rims.
What has changed is that the driver’s connection to the road through the controls which is a little blunted as a result of much improved refinement. The steering isn’t quite as direct as before and the gearbox although perfectly smooth also feels little less mechanical in its action. Thankfully the new-found refinement is a welcome addition to the mix that 90% of buyers will be grateful for.
Just like the rest of the package the engine is also quietly brilliant. First all 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 kicks out 123bhp.
It’s a superb engine that sounds fantastically fruity and the punch on offer comes as quite a surprise wherever you are in the rev range. Refinement is top-drawer even under fairly hard acceleration and vibrations are minimal.
Although Ford say 67.3 mpg is achievable on a mixed cycle, whilst with me, 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 under powered 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.
Price as tested: £22,240
Personal Lease from £163.76 per month
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
Dimensions: Length: 4358mm – Width: 2010mm – Height: 1484mm – Wheelbase: 2648mm
*data from Ford UK