From £13,785
Efficient, competent and few compromises – but rivals do the same for much less

Our Verdict

Ford Focus 2011-2014
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?

21 January 2010

What is it?

This is the latest Ford Focus Econetic, an eco car that doesn’t want to look like it’s trying too hard. Wrapped in the skin of a standard high-spec Focus Focus Zetec, with all the trimmings including sports seats and a spoiler, the new car builds on the current Econetic’s green credentials with a number of new technologies to hammer the emissions down even further to 104g/km for the standard car and 99g/km with stop-start.

Developed with Bosch, this is the first start-stop system to be used by Ford. It is mated to a beefed-up starter motor for reliability and quick ignition, and comes with a small auxillary battery that stabilises the car’s electrics when the engine is switched on and off.

Ford admits its estimate of a 0.5 per cent take up of stop-start from the overall Focus sales (three per cent including non-stop-start) is conservative, but it is being coy about the technology. Ultimately this will be a test bed to gauge public reaction, and if successful it could find its way onto other models across the range.

Also appearing on the Focus Econetic is Smart Regenerative Charging, which increases the alternator output when the vehicle brakes or decelerates, recharging the battery. Low Tension FEAD (Front End Accessory Drive) features a redesigned alternator bracket and a new belt pulley design, helping to reduce tension, and thus friction on the belt, improving fuel consumption.

Improved fuel injectors and an air intake system further enhance efficiency. A lowered ride height (10mm at the front and 8mm at the back) and blanking plates to improve aerodynamics are carried over from the previous Focus Econetic.

With the serious stuff taken care of, Ford has also embarked on a spot of in-car horticulture. Aimed at teaching us the art of green driving, the new Ford Eco Mode system measures driving behaviour in three parameters - gearchange, anticipation and motorway driving - and rewards the driver’s efforts with petals on a digital readout within the instrument panel. The more efficient the driving, the more petals will grow, with a maximum of five possible.

What’s it like?

Like a Ford Focus - and that’s the point. Ford wants this to be an environmentally friendly car without compromise, and in many respects that’s exactly what it is. Everything about this car begs you to drive smoothly and sedately, and at responsible speeds around town it has enough urge to keep up with other traffic, even with the obsessive shift light blinking earlier than you expect.

The taller gearing in third, fourth and fifth is barely noticeable and the Michelin Energy Saver 195/65 R15 tyres give a little pliancy to the well judged ride.

Taking just 0.3sec to resuscitate the engine at the lights, the start-stop system is only notable for its lack of drama. It is noticeable when the engine is cold, however, but less so when up and running.

Gimmicky as it may be, the Eco Mode turns out to be an effective device to inject a bit of fun into economical driving. It steers the mind away from thoughts of wringing every last rev out of the 1.6 in a fit of frustration.

The best we managed was three petals apiece for gearchanging and motorway driving and four for anticipation (which is signified by a little set of binoculars on the readout), although there was talk of complete flowers being created on the launch. Perhaps the imagery could be a little less twee but it does actually work, although sometimes to the point of distraction.

A mixture of roads around Nice didn’t allow us to reach the claimed 74.2mpg combined fuel economy, but an indicated 62mpg is nothing to be sniffed at, and more petals would no doubt have improved that figure further. When tested in the UK, the figure dropped under 60mpg in heavy London traffic but was in line with our original findings.

The rest is standard Focus Zetec stuff, with a blend of practicality and driver engagement that has kept this hatchback hovering around the top of its class for years.

Should I buy one?

Just as it’s hard to ignore it’s obvious ability, it’s hard also to ignore its one major fault – the price. Ford’s UK price hikes have received a lot of scrutiny in recent months, so it’d be wrong to overlook the list price of the Econetic next to the obvious and competent competition. A five-door VW Golf Bluemotion weighs in more than £1500 less, while a Seat Leon Ecomotive should cost around £3500 less when it goes on sale in the spring.

The price shouldn’t detract too much from what is a very capable car. But in the face of equally efficient and impressive competition in a very competitive segment, the Econetic doesn’t quite do enough to justify its extra cost and secure a place as the default eco hatchback choice.

Join the debate

Comments
28

2 December 2009

£20k!!!!????????? The same 20k that's around the list price of a 2.0 tdci titanum, how does ford explain that one then. (Not that anybody in their right mind pays 20k for any boggo focus, but to company car drivers it makes a difference)

2 December 2009

FOUR thousand pounds more than a Seat Leon Ecomotive - better engine, better car.

Ford UK is mainstreaming urine extraction.

2 December 2009

£20K to buy it just to save a few quid on fuel. Would it ever pay back the premium with fuel savings it asks over a normal diesel or even petrol engined Focus?

3 December 2009

Remember though, it's a Ford, so:

....the good news is that it will be available with about 20% off at a broker near you, and

....the bad news is that whatever the indicated mpg is, it will turn out to be optimistic if you measure actual fuel consumption.

3 December 2009

[quote morellomax]

....the good news is that it will be available with about 20% off at a broker near you, and

....the bad news is that whatever the indicated mpg is, it will turn out to be optimistic if you measure actual fuel consumption.

[/quote]

More than 20% if you look hard enough and give it a few months! The list price remains stupid though, and is a big problem for company car drivers like myself.

As for the fuel economy, I reckon you could get close to the 74mpg without trying too hard. I average 60mpg out of my current shape standard 1.6 TDCi Focus with very mixed driving so it would seem reasonable to expect high 60s out of the Econetic.

It has been suggested the 1.6 TDCi is being uprated to 125bhp in the near future, so hopefully this will find it's way into the new Focus, and still dip under the 120g/km CO2.

3 December 2009

[quote BigEd]FOUR thousand pounds more than a Seat Leon Ecomotive - better engine, better car.[/quote]

Maybe, but unless I am mistaken the Leon is rated at 119g/km, which is still 5g more than the current version prior to these tweaks they are reviewing. With the Start-Stop they claim 99g/km, which is a massive difference and also means no car tax...

3 December 2009

Isn't that the difference between £35 a year and £0 a year though? You'd have to keep your focus an awfully long time to make up that difference

3 December 2009

As others have noted £20k sounds like a helluva lot of cash for a Ford Focus. I think I'd rather get a nearly new Audi for that kind of money. One could also get a Volvo as well for similar money and similar emissions. I'm sure others are correct when they say this car will be discounted. The question is what makes it more desirable than all the other eco cars which are coming out now?

3 December 2009

[quote Geetee40]Maybe, but unless I am mistaken the Leon is rated at 119g/km, which is still 5g more than the current version prior to these tweaks they are reviewing. With the Start-Stop they claim 99g/km, which is a massive difference and also means no car tax...[/quote]

Leon gets the new 1.6 CR VAG engine and stop/start and energy recuperation early next year bringing Co2 to 99g/Km and is still 4K cheaper maybe not quite as good to drive more stykish espewcially in FL guise. Worse still for the Ford is the Golf Bluemotion having the same kit as the Leon but still only 18K for a car with similar spec to a 20K Zetec.

Fords have just become overpriced the Focus is priced too similar to premium hatches such as the 1 Series and Audi A3 in some cases they are cheaper, total madness even if the euro is to blame!!! A 20K Focus 1.6 TDCi is just absurd that's what you paid for a an ST3 only 18 months or so ago!!!

3 December 2009

Fords have been overpriced (list price anyway) for ages. Earlier this year I was quoted nearly 18k for a Focus 1.6 and just over 10K for a Kia Ce'ed 1.6. I know the Ford has better ultimate handling and steering, but as I use my car to carry my wife and kids to the shops or along the M6 to Manchester instead of trying for quick laps of Brands Hatch the difference was negligible. The Kia was as well built and quiet, had a nicer cabin ambience and of course a 7 year warranty. As a Skoda owner, I have no issues with badge snobbery and cannot see what the extra 7 grand was getting me. I could buy a Fiat Panda with the difference.

 

 

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