Ford Focus road test: Mean, moody economy

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Hot hatches are all very well and good and are great fun to drive but when petrol is more than £6 a gallon a fuel-sipping car is a more sensible proposition for most of us.

The majority of manufacturers have experimented at some point with eco engines with varying degrees of success and Ford are no exception.

Picture: Spencer Griffiths

Picture: Spencer Griffiths

The ecoboost engine in the Focus we had on test a couple of weeks ago, though, has been a huge success, with the Bridgend engine plant working flat out to meet demand.

It’s a direct petrol injection turbocharged affair which delivers an amount of power and torque more usually found in larger displacement engines.

Although economical, there’s 178bhp available from the 1.6-litre petrol engine, which makes it surprisingly sprightly, in fact some would say rather sporty.

It can sprint from 0-62mph in 7.9 seconds and go on to top speed of 138mph while returning 47.1mpg. CO2 emissions are 139g/km. Fuel economy is aided by the start stop system, which is cropping up ever more frequently in new models.

The Focus Ecoboost is an easy car to live with. The suspension is comfortable and the steering well-weighted with a pleasant easy-throw gear shift.

Visually, the front appears mean and moody rather than overtly aggressive but the front air intakes and the rest of the body kit make it look like it means business.

It’s not a cheap car to buy despite being cheap to run. The Zetec S we had on test has an on-the-road price of £20,495. This was bolstered by an extra £1,000 for the driver assistance pack. This comprises of a whole raft of aids to make life on the road easier including active city stop, lane departure earning, lane keeping aid, traffic sign recognition, driver alert, auto high beam and blind spot information.

Equipment levels are high, even for those models at the lower end of the price bracket with all getting air conditioning, electric front windows and trip computer.

The Focus Ecoboost is a great compromise for those who like the economy of a diesel but don’t want to fork out the extra cash.

Ford have announced a second Ecoboost engine is being fitted to the Focus. This three-cylinder engine delivers either 123bhp or 98bhp, with a combined fuel consumption of 56.5 or 58.9mpg. The smaller of the engines emits best in class petrol CO2 emissions of 109g/km.