From £13,785
The best in its class, though that still means it's a compromised drive
Matt Prior
20 September 2006

What is it? It says here that it’s a ‘Modern, C-segment 2-door Coupe-Cabriolet with electro-hydraulically operated retractable hardtop.’ And Ford insists that it’s all about ‘Italian elegance’ – it’s the automotive equivalent of a dark blue suit with tan brogues, don’cha know. To you and me: it’s a Focus with folding roof.What’s it like? Better than most of its rivals, but making these cars is a difficult ask. Lopping the roof off the Focus hatchback loses some ninety percent of its rigidity, and it has taken a weight increase to put some of that stiffness back. Even now, if you lower the Focus CC’s two-piece roof, the body gets 40 percent floppier.Still, it’s as good to drive as any hatchback-derived CC. Better than most, in fact. With the roof up, the CC feels quite solid. The steering’s nicely oily, linear and responsive; the damping well resolved and supple. Roof down, things aren’t as taut, but it’s still acceptable.Shame it isn’t a bit faster – the kerbweight’s around 1500kg, which the 2.0-litre diesel makes a better fist of accelerating, albeit noisily, than the 2.0-litre petrol does. There’ll also be a 1.6-litre petrol engine. We haven’t tried it yet, but it will take about a fortnight to hit 60mph, so we suggest you don’t either.Shame, too, that roofless Focus motoring doesn’t feel more al fresco. The car’s burdened with a massive header rail that you sit plumb beneath, on seats that are 20mm lower than usual (and all the better for it). So top down, buffeting’s minimal – but you don’t really feel like you’re outdoors.Inside, the cabin is pure Focus-hatch, with the exception of smaller rear seats that are fine for two adults on a short journey. The boot’s usefully sized, too.Should I buy one? If you must have a hatchback-derived CC, this is as good as any. Although we reckon the VW Eos is better looking, and looks count in this class. Accept that it’s a lethargic, slightly compromised Focus with the roof adeptly lopped off and you’ll be happy. But it doesn’t have much to do with brown shoes: don’t buy the Italian elegance stuff.

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