FORD FOCUS: motoring in miniature

focus 5IF you saw the engine block of Ford’s 1.0 litre Ecoboost engine stripped of its bits, it would sit fair and square on a piece of A4 paper.

Were you so minded, you could take it on holiday with you as it would fit in the overhead locker on a plane.

Motoring in miniature then, but not in reality when it comes to its power output.

focus 4Because this little gem of a turbocharged unit – just three cylinders, mind you – produces 125ps, a healthy 200Nm of torque (with overboost) and, they claim, tops 60mpg on the combined cycle.

Compelling reasons, then, to keep it as Britain’s family favourite.

There aren’t many cars around that have enjoyed the success of the Focus.

In fact there’s only really one, the VW Golf, which by coincidence is one of the main rivals to Ford’s best seller.

That’s been a round a whole lot longer than the Focus of course, but since it made its curtain call it’s been a firm favourite with the British buying public, regularly topping the UK sales chart and notching up its first million sales in no time..

focus 1No mean feat, when it’s up against a rising tide of decent motors all vying for our money.

Ford’s family sized hatchback was – and still is – the ideal car for many. It has bold modern looks, suitably enhanced in its latest guise, it’s spacious and when you weight it all up, it’s a great car to drive.

And now (cue the death march for a lot of its rivals) there’s a new design, more equipment and much more choice.

focus 2The focus (sorry) has been on improvements with the latest version, no mean feat when what you’ve got to work with does pretty well what it says on the tin and then some.

After all, it’s already got a distinctive look, a superb chassis that makes the car a more than acceptable driving experience, and a very roomy cabin for the occupants.

On the road it’s much the same story as before, with a ride and handling mix that’s the envy of many competitors and much appreciated by those who drive a Focus day in, day out. Try one and you’ll see.

Road noise seems to have been improved and in the suspension department someone has done their job well because if anything it feels even more planted on the road, no matter how many bumps you encounter.

But on a car that’s the wrong side of 19 grand, you probably wouldn’t expect to find window winders in the rear, or an air con system that proved a little ineffective until you dialled up Storm Force 10 on the fan.

focus 6There are some tidy touches – the way the door edges are protected by a little plastic plate that slips over them as you disembark, and then slip out of the way when you shut the door (an £85 option), and the neat blue needles on the dials in what is a bit of a bland and plasticy dash area.

In fact the whole interior is a bit grey in extremis, but you do get a set of seats that offer excellent thigh and back support, as well as good legroom.

It’s a mid range car but there’s no lack of interior space. It’s as roomy as the Mondeo used to be, given that the Mondeo is now as roomy as the old Granada and then the Scorpio used to be.

Dominating proceedings is the eight inch touchscreen that incorporates Ford’s SYNC system, and the sat nav has more info on the map than Wikipedia. It’s a real step in the right direction and easy to master, with better voice controls than before.

With its new grille, it’s very much one of the Ford family, in the mould of the equally popular Fiesta and Mondeo.

FASTFACTS: Ford Focus Zetec 1.0T Start/Stop; £19,095; three cylinder 999cc turbocharged, 125ps, 200Nm; six speed manual gearbox; top speed 120mph, 0-62mph 11 secs; Fuel – urban 49.6, extra urban 68.9, combined 60.1; CO2 108g/km.

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