From £13,785
Ford Focus eco-triple demonstrates that there is a substitute for cubic inches

Our Verdict

A big seller is the 113bhp 1.6-litre diesel in Zetec trim.

Can the Ford Focus capture the hearts and minds of hatchback buyers?

7 February 2012

What is it?

A new, three-cylinder 1.0 litre turbocharged version of the Ford Focus, driven here in 123bhp form but also available with 99bhp.

This engine, whose cylinder block has barely the area of a sheet of A4 paper, arrives first in the Focus because its high-tech gadgetry (variable valve timing, miniature turbo, advanced electronics, direct fuel injection system) would make it expensive for the Fiesta.

The triple's efficiencies – which include super-efficient combustion, stop-start, a remarkably wide torque spread (with peak 125lb ft torque that overboosts to 148lb ft for 30 seconds to assist acceleration and passing manoeuvres), a six-speed gearbox and a 30kg weight saving over the front wheels – result in CO2 output of just 114g/km and combined fuel consumption of 56.5mpg for the six-speed version.

Five-speed figures are a little sharper, but that model loses a bit of performance against the six-speeder's 120mph top speed and 11.3sec 0-62mph acceleration. Both versions bring impressive tax advantages to business users.

What’s it like?

Even such promising paper figures don't prepare you for the driving experience. You barely hear the thing start, and it idles so smoothly you'd swear it had stalled. Your brain tells you such a small engine will need lots of revs off the mark, but it gets going easily because the combination of a tiny turbo, advanced electronic engine management and double variable valve timing give it amazing oomph in the low gears, even below 2000rpm (though the redline's 6700rpm).

It flows through the gears, always quiet but sounding more like a thoroughbred six than anything mainstream. You'll enjoy revving it, but you soon learn that changing up in the 3000s (aided by a smooth clutch and a slick six-speeder) delivers far better economy with pretty good performance.

Amazingly, the car is even long-legged. You've got to be indicating nearly 90mph before the tacho shows 3000rpm in sixth, and it can maintain this up hill and down dale. It is already clear, however, that like Fiat's TwinAir this Focus triple is an economy car for the willing. We turned 52mpg on a medium-fast, 80-mile trip through southern Spain, where another crew, not much faster, returned economy in the late 30s. You have to understand Ford's triple to make it sing for its supper.

Should I buy one?

This engine is a game-changer. It shows just how much life remains in petrol engines of a suck-squeeze-bang-blow persuasion. And that nowadays there is indeed a substitute for cubic inches.

Daft as it may sound, the tiny but super-advanced turbo triple – engineered in Dunton, England – confers a remarkable new layer of smoothness and refinement on the Ford's big-selling C-segment hatchback that is so obvious, so impressive and so refreshing that it leaves the four-cylinder models gasping.

Ford EcoBoost 1.0 Zetec 5dr

Price: £17,745; Top speed: 120mph; 0-62mph: 11.3sec; Economy: 56.5mpg (combined); CO2: 114g/km; Kerb weight: 1240kg (est); Engine: 3 cyls in line, 999cc, turbo, petrol; Installation: Front, transverse, FWD; Power: 123bhp at 6000rpm; Torque: 125lb ft (148lb ft on overboost) at 1500-4500rpm; Gearbox: 6-spd manual; Fuel tank: 55 litres; Boot: 316/1101 litres; Wheels: 7Jx16in; Tyres: 215/55 R16.

Join the debate


7 February 2012


My 3 pin socket can wait.

7 February 2012

If its this impressive in a Focus, imagine how good it would be in a Fiesta.

On another note, I've driven a few 3 cylinder cars, and they have far more character than fours. I am therefore wondering if 3 could be the new 6...?

7 February 2012

I imagine it does sound decent, triples often do. I am amazed at the length of the gearing, no doubt it helps with the economy. Just such a shame its in the Focus. I dont doubt its a decent car overall, but it looks so dull.

7 February 2012

This sounds like a great engine as I suspected it would be. Now all that's required is to make sure that production examples are as good as the ones loaned out to the press - and shed a bit of size and weight of the car they put it in.

7 February 2012

I'd say these downsized turbo engines will be a bundle of trouble in years to come.

7 February 2012

I was hoping to see a picture of the engine or a shot under the bonnet. Must look lost in that size car. I'm guessing it's smothered in plastic though like most engine's nowadays.

7 February 2012

and real life fuel consumption, somewhere between 30 and 60 mpg.....

7 February 2012

What a brilliant engine, for such a small displacement it has a rather wide range of ability the BHP and torque are nothing to sniff at especially for a 3 cylinder 1.0L, i really like it doubt it will see the light of day in my part of the world some how.

This engine in the fiesta would be incredible!

7 February 2012

This seems like a winner all round but like all turbo engines lets see how the economy figures are after a proper long distance drive.

7 February 2012

A 1.0 engine in a Focus should be terrible. Judging by this review, it is actually very good. It's not that slow, and seems quite economical, although I'm not sure the figures would be hugely achievable. I'm not too keen on Zetec trim on the Focus, but the engine seems alright. As someone else said, it would be great in the Fiesta. Better still in the Ka. A new SportKa would be great for rivalling the Up GT. This one-litre turbo should make a new Sportka quicker than the Up GT, as well as more economical and cheaper.

Come on Ford! Give us a new SportKa...


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