Ford offers extended eco test drive to customersDecember 1, 2012
Green Car Guide has helped Ford to find two families to benefit from a unique opportunity to run one of the company’s latest ‘green’ models to see how it compares with their current car.
The company joined forces with consumer site Green Car Guide
to give real-world drivers a unique extended test-drive in its petrol and diesel eco cars.
Two families were chosen for the three-week initiative after an online appeal. Applicants were asked to stake their claim for inclusion based on their credentials on eco-living and eco-motoring. Here’s how the lucky pair got on behind the wheel of a Ford Focus 1.0-litre EcoBoost and Ford Fiesta ECOnetic.
THE THOMAS FAMILY
Lives: Preston, Lancashire
Current car: Volvo V50 diesel
Background: Adam Thomas works for the Lake District National Park. He commutes up the M6 to Lake Windermere every day. Wife Cathy is a head teacher and they have two sons, Joshua (18) and Jacob (13).
Test drive car: The Ford Focus 1.0-litre EcoBoost features a compact and lightweight three-cylinder petrol engine for outstanding responsiveness and a wide torque range. It has the same 125PS power output of Ford’s 1.6-litre Focus, but 20 per cent better fuel economy. Official Combined Fuel Economy is 56.5mpg with low CO2 emissions of 114g/km.
Adam Thomas’s first impression was that the Ford Focus EcoBoost looked sportier than he expected and it was full of gadgets. “The interior is more jazzy than my taste, but the displays, dials and paddles give the ‘James Bond’ experience that I shamefully enjoy!” he laughed.
Out on the road, Adam was impressed with the Ford’s performance. “The Focus EcoBoost is remarkably quick in first and second gear from a standing start, and that’s been a genuine surprise for me. The kids commented that it makes a growling noise that makes you feel like you’re in a sports car.”
Adam does plenty of motorway miles every day and said the Focus was very smooth and comfortable at higher speeds, even with the entire family on board to add extra weight. “It obviously lacks the punch of a diesel when you drop a gear, but it’s still perfectly acceptable. It’s also roomy. My oldest son Joshua is 6ft 3ins and there’s enough space for him.”
Adam has completed an eco-driving course through work, so knows how to get the best mpg from a car. “I’m getting 41mpg, which is good, but not as good as my diesel.”
Other elements that have found favour with the Thomas clan include the DAB radio – for its clarity of sound – and the sat-nav system. Adam likes that the next route instruction is replicated on the instrument panel, so he’s always looking ahead rather than at a screen to the side. “The Bluetooth connection is much clearer than on my car, and I like the fact I can stream music while my phone is in my pocket,” he added.
The Thomas family had a couple of criticisms, incuding the lack of cup-holders for rear passengers. They also felt the audio speakers were a bit tinny at higher volumes. But overall it’s been a positive experience. “Cathy loves the styling of the car and it’s unusual for her to comment on that. Normally, as long as it’s got four wheels and doesn’t break down, she’s happy!”
THE NIJJAR FAMILY
Lives: South Woodford, Essex
Own car: Ford Fiesta ECOnetic (old version)
Background: IT consultant Rajinder Nijjar commutes to West London every day, while wife Amanda works part-time just inside the Congestion Charge zone near Old Street. They have two sons, Aron (17) and Rowan (14).
Test drive car: The Ford Fiesta ECOnetic is the most environmentally friendly model the company has ever sold . Thanks to a suite of technologies including stop/start of its 1.6-litre 95PS TDCi diesel engine, it has Official Combined Fuel Economy of 85.6mpg and CO2 exhaust emissions of 87g/km.
Swapping their own older Ford Fiesta ECOnetic for the newest version was an intriguing idea for the Nijjar family. Part of the appeal was that it would still give them Congestion Charge exemption, but hopefully lower their weekly running costs. Rajinder was quick to spot the vastly improved fuel economy during his usual M25/North Circular commute.
“On my car I usually get 55mpg, but the trip computer on the test car was showing 65mpg. I’m pleasantly surprised by that; 10mpg improvement is quite impressive because I’m driving it exactly the same way, perhaps even a little more aggressively because the new ECOnetic handles better than mine.”
Rajinder shared the car with wife Amanda during the loan period and noted she was getting around 60mpg. “She’s a bit more heavy footed than I am!” he joked.
He was also keen on the cruise control – missing from his own 2011 car – and the Sony radio with DAB. “It just sounds crystal clear and very crisp. I’ve not got a musical ear but it’s a notch above everything else.”
Also picking up praise from the Nijjars was the ride and handling, which Rajinder says is better than on his Fiesta. It is helped by the car’s supportive seats. “Amanda is very keen on the higher spec of this ECOnetic loan car, and I think she would prefer we had this one! She also likes the higher quality interior.”
Read our reviews of the Ford Fiesta and Ford Focus: