From £16,2357
This extrovert-looking Focus gets a bespoke 180bhp 1.5 Ecoboost petrol engine and Zetec S chassis but is hard to justify over the standard Zetec S
22 December 2015

What is it?

It’s a slightly garish-looking special edition of the Ford Focus, although you’ll be pleased to know that this Black Edition (also available as a Red Edition, with the colour scheme in reverse to what you see here) isn’t all about the styling.

Underneath is a Zetec S chassis, while the 180bhp version of the turbocharged 1.5-litre Ecoboost petrol engine is unique to this special edition. The only other engine option in the Red/Black Editions is the 148bhp 2.0-litre diesel, so this bespoke petrol is certainly the more interesting prospect. Think of it as a halfway house between the standard Focus Zetec S and the Focus ST hot hatch.

It’s the styling and extra poke from that engine that you’re paying for here. There’s no extra equipment over the standard Zetec S, which is £1675 cheaper with the 148bhp version of this 1.5 Ecoboost engine, while - perhaps more shockingly - an ST-1 costs almost exactly the same, although it isn’t as well equipped. It is worth considering that the Red Edition, which is identical but for the exterior styling, is £500 cheaper. 

So does the Black Edition make sense or is this niche in the range just too narrow? 

What's it like?

The Zetec S chassis is a known quantity, and a seriously good one at that. It turns in with the sort of zealous precision missing from just about every other family hatch, while the damping remains impressively pliant, making this the perfect illustration of why the Focus has such a towering reputation for ride and handling in this class.

It’s a shame that the steering is a little odd, being a bit to keen to self-centre and without the intuitive, progressive build of weight and sense of feedback that comes with a really excellent set-up. Still, it’s good enough to make the most of the Ford’s responsive chassis while making life easy in more mundane situations.

The engine is a high point. It revs smoothly and with real gusto once you’ve got past the fairly flat sub-2000rpm zone, carrying right on to its power peak at 6000rpm and making for easy and rapid progress. However, it doesn’t feel very hot hatch-like. You do have to rev it quite hard to get the best from it, and even then it never feels exciting, just impressively refined and muscular.

It’s standard Focus fare inside, other than some red contrast stitching on the steering wheel, handbrake and floor mats. You do get the 8.0in colour touchscreen, complete with DAB and every other sort of audio function you could want, along with hefty bolsters to the comfortable seat, and air-con. Sat-nav is a cheap option, although it seems a bit cynical that cruise control and rear parking sensors cost extra. 

Should I buy one?

Only if you want the extrovert styling enough to be willing to spend four figures on it, because there’s little incentive otherwise. Clearly this 1.5 engine is going to appeal to those who like a decent level of petrol performance but don’t want the expense of buying and running the ST, and that makes a lot of sense. Problem is, in reality the 148bhp 1.5 Focus Zetec S feels almost as fast, has identical ride and handling and is usefully cheaper to buy and insure, so we’d settle for that. Alternatively, we’d find the extra for the ST-1 and enjoy the full-on hot hatch experience, despite the lack of the 8.0in colour touchscreen in that car's fairly basic specification.

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If you do feel that this higher-powered 1.5 suits your purposes, have a careful look at what else you can get for similar money – specifically the faster, better equipped and slightly cheaper Leon 1.8 TSI FR – before making the final decision.

Ford Focus Zetec S 1.5 Ecoboost 182 Black Edition

Location: Surrey; On sale: Now; Price £22,520; Engine 4 cyls, 1499cc, turbocharged, petrol; Power 180bhp at 6000rpm; Torque 177lb ft at 1600rpm; Gearbox 6-spd manual; Kerb weight 1325kg; Top speed 138mph; 0 62mph 8.6sec; Economy 51.4mpg (combined); CO2 rating & BIK tax band 127g/km, 20%

 

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John O'Groats 6 January 2016

Hare and the tortoise

An acceleration time of 0-62mph seems somewhat more in the tortoise than the hare mode for a vehicle powered by a 180bhp donk.
John O'Groats 6 January 2016

Hare and the tortoise

An acceleration time of 0-62mph seems somewhat more in the tortoise than the hare mode for a vehicle powered by a 180bhp donk.
aston01 24 December 2015

£22k and no Cruise Control.....

Basic cars like the Vauxhall Viva now come with cruise control, I wouldn't buy a Ford (even though I am entitled to privilege discount) just because of having to buy a titianium spec just to get cruise as I use it every day, Ford just being tight...
Adrian987 24 December 2015

Optional extra

Is cruise not available as an optional extra, £250? Some may not wish to feel they are paying for something they would never use - not all need/like cruise control. Personally, though, rather like you @aston01, I do prefer it to be in the price. I would go for the Red Edition, add cc, and still be better off by £250 compared with the Black Edition. Easier to keep looking clean too!
bomb 24 December 2015

Autocar wrote:

Autocar wrote:

...the 180bhp version of the turbocharged 1.5-litre Ecoboost petrol engine is unique to this special edition.

I don't know who told you that. The same 182PS 1.5 EcoBoost has been available in the Focus Titanium X from launch.