This is the Econetic version of Ford’s top-selling Focus hatchback, itself the second-most popular car on British roads.
This one has the potential to be even more suited to the British buying public – the Econetic is slower than other Focus dervs (who can go fast here anyway?), but it boasts higher claimed fuel economy (perfect for rip-off prices) and incurs no road tax (take that, Chancellor). So, has Ford built the perfect car for modern Britain? Read on for the CAR review.
Read our new Ford Focus review: we drive the latest hatchback
What’s special about this version of the Ford Focus?
Look elsewhere, power-freaks. Ford has detuned the 1.6-litre turbodiesel motor from 114bhp to 104bhp, though torque remains entrenched at 199lb ft. Consequently, the sacrifices in traffic light grand prix stakes aren’t too embarrassing, relatively speaking: the Econetic Focus hits 62mph in 11.8sec, and tops out at 116mph – 1.0sec and 4mph slower than its less eco-minded sister.
And on the eco-up side?
Claimed fuel economy climbs from 67.3mpg to 76.4mpg, and CO2 emissions tumble from 109g/km to 99g/km – into the only tax band that pays zero annual tariffs. The £20 that saves you versus the non-Econetic model – and the potential fuel savings – begins to offset the extra cost of the low-resistance-tyre-shod Econetic car, which costs an extra £250 to buy.
If you want an even greener Focus, the entry-level Edge Econetic emits just 88g/km – but that’s still short of the VW Golf Bluemotion 1.6 TDI with its claimed 85g/km and 88.3mpg.
What sort of economy does this green Focus score on road, rather than paper?
Mixed driving returned an average of around 60mpg – almost twice that of the downsized, petrol-powered Ecoboost Fiesta CAR tested earlier in 2013. On a long motorway run, taking advantage of the Ford’s lengthy gearing, we tickled the frugality up to 70mpg – no mean feat for a standard-profile family hatchback.
Don’t take the motorway every time though – avoiding back roads is to miss out of the Focus’s keen handling. The gawky-looking Mk3 isn’t as playful as the first two models to wear the Focus badge (blame a shift towards Golf-chasing refinement for that, as well as the ‘One Ford’ one-size-fits-all-markets compromises), but a British-specific chassis tune means this is still a cut about the dynamics of everyday hatch-dom, if not quite as incisive as the excellent new Mazda 3.
What’s the inside story?
If the new Ford Edge and S-max concepts are anything to go by, Ford is at last moving away from cabins designed with a machine gun loaded full of fiddly buttons. Good thing too – the Focus has been on sale since early 2011, and its mobile phone-inspired centre console is looking as dated as, well, a three-year year old mobile phone.
Quality is off the pace of not only the German MQB-platform rivals (VW Golf, Audi A3, Skoda Octavia and Seat Leon) but also struggles next to the impressive Hyundai i30 and Kia Ceed, with materials and general ambience on the dowdy side, even if build quality is sound. This generation of Focus is yet to even have a mid-cycle facelift, and it still has to solder on for a few more years yet...
This is a Focus, er, focused on the fleet market, and why not when nearly 70% of all Focus sales in 2012 were snapped up by company car buyers, rather than private consumers. There are more desirable models coming on stream from Europe, Japan and Korea, but thanks to real world eco-savings and a chuckable, forgiving set-up, the Focus continues to hold its own against some increasing stiff competition – for now…