Is the new Focus as good as its best-selling predecessor? JAMES BAGGOTT investigates what’s new
What is it?
Quite possibly the most important car launch of 2011. The Focus has topped the best-seller charts for most of the years since its launch in 1998 with 1.4m finding homes in Britain. This new model combines a fresh look, clever technology and the tried and tested appeal of exciting driving dynamics to steal back the top slot. The Focus floor pan will go on to underpin at least 10 models around the world and account for two million annual sales.
What’s under the bonnet?
At launch there’ll be a choice of three petrol and four diesel engines. We managed to try the brilliant 1.6-litre ECOboost engine and the upgraded 2.0-litre TDCi Powershift Auto on the launch. The former is easily the pick of the two. It produces 150bhp while only emitting 139g/km. Although it sounds like a small unit it’s powerful and great to drive hitting 60mph in 8.4s while still returning 47mpg. Diesels will be the most popular though and they’re equally impressive.
What’s the spec like?
Standard specification has been improved. There’s four to choose from now: Edge, Zetec, Titanium and Titanium X. All get an alarm, air con, DAB, Bluetooth and USB connection and ISOfix. The clever tech has been split into seven option packs. Driver Assistance Pack (£750) for example offers blind spot information, low speed safety system that brakes for you if it detects a crash is likely, lane departure warning, speed limit spotting display, driver alert and auto high beam.
What’s it like to drive?
Even better than the outgoing model. The ride is noticeably improved, soaking up bumps the last generation would crash over. Electric steering is decent, the handling sublime and the performance from the ECOboost unit a delight. The driving position is better too – it feels higher up and is more comfortable, but the downside is space. That dash may look stylish but it reduces leg room and the cabin feels a little cramped.
What do the press think of it?
What Car? said it ‘only enhances Ford’s reputation for building brilliant- driving motor cars’ and only said the ride and interior quality was below par. Auto Express believes it ‘leaps from also-ran to class contender,’ while Autocar said it can’t help but feel just a ‘little disappointed’.
What do we think of it?
We like it and it’s bound to be a hit with buyers. We were always told the new Focus would be more driver orientated than the outgoing model and that’s rung true. Some existing Focus owners will find the reduced cabin space a hurdle, and you’d be well advised to steer them towards the more suitable C-MAX. But overall the ride, handling and performance of the new model will appeal to the masses.
Model: 1.6-litre ECOboost
Price: £19,745 (tested), range from £15,995
Engine: 1.6-litre, turbocharged petrol
Power: 150bhp, 240Nm
Max speed: 130mph
Residual values (three years): 32 per cent
The new Focus is a car that appeals to all buyers of all ages. Ford is looking to increase the numbers of retail buyers.
Vauxhall Astra, VW Golf, Renault Megane
Key Selling Points
1. Driving dynamics still a cut above its rivals
2. It can spot speed limit signs and display them on the dash
3. Safety aids keep drivers in the right lane and warn of tiredness
Not only is it clever and safe but it’s great to drive too
Read our exclusive interview with Ford of Britain boss Nigel Sharp here
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