The Ford Focus ECOnetic 1.5 TDCi is a perfect example of the brand’s aim to offer cars that offer excellent economy and a good driving experience at an affordable price without resorting to complex and expensive hybrid technology.
The Ford Focus really needs no introduction – it’s consistently been one of the UK’s best-selling cars for years, because it offers good value, it’s great to drive, and it’s cheap to run. The Focus ECOnetic 1.5 TDCi is one of the latest models that aims to push this package further still; with an official combined NEDC fuel economy figure of 83.1mpg, it really does promise low running costs.
Another reason why the Focus is so popular is its packaging. It looks sleek, but it’s also a practical shape and size – it’s big enough to carry five adults and luggage in comfort, but it’s not too big to make it a handful to drive and a nightmare to park. The main issue with our test car was the 16-inch steel wheels – it just doesn’t look as attractive as most other alloy wheel-adorned Focus models that you see on the roads.
The mechanicals are also mostly familiar; diesel engine, 6-speed manual transmission, front-wheel drive. However our test car has the relatively new 1.5-litre diesel – promising over 80 miles per gallon.
The interior is generally attractive and ergonomically sound, although there are some fiddly buttons.
After testing green cars for ten years, we become fearful when we hear model descriptions such as ECOnetic. All too often in the past this has meant a car that has various compromises in its driving experience. Thankfully this is not the case with the Focus; it is genuinely excellent to drive. It feels light and responsive, with good handling and a comfortable ride (although normal front-wheel drive rules apply – too much acceleration through a wet corner and understeer will result). Diesel engines often don’t feel much fun; again, this is not the case with this 1.5-litre unit – it feels flexible and refined.
In the interests of finding out as much as possible about the basic handling of cars that we review, we tested a Focus ST on an excellent series of roads back-to-back against a whole range of other cars – 17 in all, and including various items of performance-focused machinery. We judged the Focus ST to be the best driver’s car of the lot; it’s completely normal if you drive it normally, but then it transforms into huge rewarding fun if you use the performance on offer. So it’s worth remembering that the Ford Focus ECOnetic 1.5 TDCi has the same platform as the Focus ST – ie. whatever Focus you go for, it’s basically a car that handles well.
The Focus ECOnetic 1.5 TDCi has an official combined NEDC fuel economy figure of 83.1mpg, equating to emissions of 88g/km CO2. This sounds amazing, but as we know, this isn’t what you’ll get in real-life driving. However, even our real-life economy was excellent – after a week of mixed driving we averaged 67.2mpg. The best we saw, on a cross-country drive, was an incredible 88.9mpg. The worst we saw was 47.9mpg – which is still respectable.
The basic price of this Ford Focus ECOnetic 1.5 TDCi model is £19,145. Our test car cost £20,250 due to options of Candy Red special metallic paint (£745), rear park assist (£225), driver’s seat lumbar adjust (£50), and door edge protectors (£85) (a piece of rubber that magically appears out of the door when it’s opened to cover the edge of the door, before retracting once again).
Focus trim levels start at Studio, then Style (ie. our test car), Zetec, Zetec S, Titanium, and Titanium S. Although our test car was in a spec near the bottom of the range, it generally had sufficient equipment, and we could live with most things, but the steering wheel felt cheap and the exterior didn’t look special with its 16-inch wheels, but the worst thing was having to physically switch off the lights every time you got out of the car – virtually all press cars these days seem to have automatic lights that switch themselves on and off for you. We have obviously become very lazy!
The Focus is available as a five-door hatchback or as an estate, and with petrol or diesel engines. There’s even an all-electric Focus.
The Ford Focus ECOnetic 1.5 TDCi offers a good driving experience, excellent real-life economy, a practical shape, an affordable purchase price, and low running costs. The 16-inch steel wheels are designed to assist fuel economy (as well as being cheap), but they don’t help to make this Focus a car that you’d be proud to have on your drive. However we can’t really mark the car down due to its wheels, especially as you would be able to source alternative wheels if you really wanted to, so the Focus ECOnetic 1.5 TDCi gains a Green Car Guide rating of 9 out of 10. But – the Focus with the 1-litre EcoBoost petrol engine is also excellent. So if most of your driving is over long distances, then the diesel option may be best. But if most of your driving is short distances in urban areas, then the 1-litre EcoBoost petrol engine will have less negative impact on local air quality, it’s ultimately better to drive, and it’s cheaper.