Ford Focus 1.6 Econetic (2008) review

Published: 30 April 2008

Ford Focus 1.6 Econetic (2008) review
  • At a glance
  • 4 out of 5
  • 4 out of 5
  • 4 out of 5
  • 4 out of 5
  • 4 out of 5

Ford’s gone green with the Focus Econetic, so you can put that order for a Toyota Prius on hold. Stick a pair of sill extensions and narrow tyres on a Focus, lower it, and you get a drag factor of 0.31 and a class-leading carbon output of 115g/km. It even comes with a natty little Econetic badge on the bootlid, too.

Class-leading CO2 figures for this Ford Focus Econteic? Tell me more.

This Focus makes no pretence at being a hot hatch. Ford’s after an entirely different sector of the market – although maybe not that different. Clearly it’s after people who want to show off, just in a different way.

You see, you could save yourself £250 and buy a Focus Style with the same engine: a particulate-filtered 109bhp diesel. You’d pump out slightly more CO2 (119g/km) and be slightly less frugal (62.7mpg rather than 65.6mpg) but you’d do so without feeling as self-conscious as the gawky-looking Econetic makes you feel.

So it’s no catwalk model then.

You’re right. Ford’s facelifted Focus looks a bit stuffy in the company of its S-Max and forthcoming Fiesta. And the skinny tyres, hubcaps and sill extensions only make this one look all the nerdier.

Click 'Next' below to read the rest of our Ford Focus Econetic first drive

What’s it like to drive?

It doesn’t feel any different from a standard Focus – and that’s obviously a good thing. The ride is pliant but firmly controlled, it’s keen and agile in corners, the steering is sharp and accurate (if less feelsome than the Focus MkI’s) and it’s just about quick enough to entertain.

The 1.6 diesel isn’t overburdened with torque, despite the peak figure of 177lb ft at a lowly 1750rpm. That’s because it soon drops off, so you tend to row along by upshifting and surfing the flow of what it has got. But the nifty gearshift is a pleasure to use, and the whole drivetrain is taut and flatters your driving by making the car easy to pilot smoothly.

Thing is, unless you pussy-foot everywhere and accept that this is no hot hatch, I doubt you’d match Ford’s fuel economy figures. Hoof it and you’ll up the entertainment quotient, but that’s hardly what green cars are about, is it?

Is it economy class elsewhere?

The Econetic is based on Ford’s Style trim level, and it comes with air-con, CD, ABS and stability control, even electric mirrors and a leather-covered steering wheel. But while Ford makes great play of the Focus’s interior quality and finish, all you really get is a soft-feel dashtop. Every other surface is tough but unyielding and cheap-looking, and the plastic doorcards are especially grating in a £16.5k family hatch.

Click 'Next' below to read the rest of our Ford Focus Econetic first drive

Verdict

Read this and you might form the opinion that I’m not a Focus fan. Yet I am and always have been. It’s just that the Econetic seems a bit of a token gesture, engineered to garner headlines with its ‘lowest in class’ CO2 claims.

In every respect apart from its shallow re-engineering, it remains a fine and laudable car. But until Ford does something completely radical, don’t show off about your green credentials with a boot badge. Just buy a standard Focus and enjoy it in the knowledge that you’re hardly killing the planet with it anyway.

Specs

Price when new: £16,550
On sale in the UK: Now
Engine: 1560cc 4-cyl turbodiesel, 109bhp @ 4000rpm, 177lb ft @ 1750rpm
Transmission: Five-speed manual, front-wheel drive
Performance: 10.9sec 0-62mph, 119mph, 65.6mpg, 115g/km CO2
Weight / material: 1357kg/steel
Dimensions (length/width/height in mm): 4337/1839/1500

Rivals

Other Models

Photo Gallery

  • Ford Focus Econetic drive: rear three-quarter photo
  • Ford Focus Econetic drive: fuel filler cap photo
  • Ford Focus Econetic drive: rear three-quarter photo
  • Ford Focus Econetic drive: fuel filler cap photo