Ford Focus ECOnetic
Model/Engine size: 1.6i 16v TDCi 108 bhp ECOnetic
Fuel economy combined: 65.7 mpg
Which best selling five-seat small family car can travel 65 miles on one gallon, can handle corners in an enjoyable way, yet costs less than £17,000? That’ll be the Ford Focus ECOnetic then.
You can’t argue with one of the UK’s best selling cars. Especially in its low emission ECOnetic form. All the characteristics of the Focus are still there, and you get emissions of just 115g/km.
The Ford Focus was initially launched in 1998 and helped to embed the new design language started by the Ka two years earlier. The Focus has come to epitomise modern Fords, with creative design combining with impressive material quality, build quality and outstanding road manners to make a fearsome package.
Ford’s latest update is the third major overhaul and aims to keep the Focus at the top of the class, a position it has held since its introduction. Ford has concentrated on updating the styling, which is evolutionary, and the mechanicals which are revolutionary.
The ECOnetic, so-called as it links ecologically friendly technology to Ford’s ‘kinetic design’ styling language, uses Ford’s most advanced diesel technology and improved aerodynamics (adding side skirts and a rear spoiler, and modifying the grille and front bumper) to achieve great fuel consumption. The gear ratios have been lengthened; the torque remains adequate for most driving conditions, and the engine isn’t quiet, but equally the noise isn’t excessive.
There is also lower suspension and narrower low-resistance tyres. These tyres contribute to the Focus having a slightly hard ride, and if you like a nice set of alloy wheels, you’ll be disappointed with this car, which has uninspiring flat wheel trims.
A key green element was to reduce friction which was achieved by BP developing a bespoke transmission oil. Ford was so impressed this will now be used in other models too.
Thankfully, whilst Ford has made many changes, the company has left the chassis well alone. This is good news as, despite its age, it is still the benchmark in the class for driver involvement. It’s very strange that the Volvo S40 we tested recently is based on the same platform as the Focus, yet the Focus is so much more enjoyable to drive. This means that the ECOnetic achieves our nirvana of combining really low CO2 emissions and fun. A 90 bhp version is also available which emits 1g/km of CO2 less, but the 110 bhp engine has much stronger performance and a diesel particulate filter so it gets the nod from us.
The interior is modern and has all the kit that today’s family needs – and the all-important trip computer giving mpg read-outs.
Gripes? The centre console encroaches on space for the driver’s left leg, and there’s no clutch footrest. The stereo has controls on the steering column, which is good, however they’re hidden behind the steering wheel, which isn’t great. Satnav is available, but it’s not the best in the business. And the styling of the Focus may be ‘kinetic’, but overall it’s still not a great looking car.
The Focus remains the default driver’s choice and now this comes at a reduced impact. The addition of a diesel particulate filter means extra bonus marks from us too. The best news is that Ford developed this car because the company believes that customers are increasingly seeking class-leading low CO2 emissions. The fact that the big players have realised that low CO2 emissions are now a key battleground is great news for us all.
It’s realistic to expect at least 50mpg in real-life driving from this car, you can fit in the kids, and still enjoy corners, so the Focus ECOnetic is a real all-rounder for the driver, the family, and the environment. It’s only around £250 more than the non-ECOnetic model on which it’s based, so it’s probably worth it to gain all those extra miles out of those gallons.
Fuel economy extra urban: 78.3 mpg
Fuel economy urban: 50.4 mpg
CO2 emissions: 115 g/km
Green rating: VED band B – £35
Weight: 1357 Kg
Company car tax liability (2008/09): 13% Price: £15,595 (From £12,280 to £26,805)
Insurance group: 7
Safety: NCAP TBC
Max speed: 119 mph
0-62mph: 10.9 seconds