What's it like?
To drive, almost indistinguishable from the 99g/km 1.6 TDCi Focus.
Which is to say engine performance that’s doggedly workmanlike at best, pedestrian at worst, and frustratingly mated to a chassis that displays all of the best dynamic sparkle that an everyday Ford has to offer (which is a considerable amount).
Our previous criticisms of the 1.6 TDCi’s low-rev recalcitrance hold just as true here, with an asthmatic off-boost delivery leading to some awkward moments when pulling away. The sure-fire cure is to give it a heavy boot from a standstill, but that’s entirely at odds with the Econetic Focus’s fuel-saving ethos. With practice and familiarity pulling away becomes less fraught, but it always feels like a more conscious effort than it should be.
That laggy obstinacy tends to be less of a problem once rolling but it never goes away entirely. The motor feels at its best once flowing freely on A-roads and motorways, but it’s punchy and rewarding enough around town providing you time your upshifts carefully. However, an opportunist open-road overtaker this is not.
The compromises in performance do pay off, though. On one particularly feather-footed motorway/urban run, we returned an impressive 72mpg, although such figures have to be worked for. It’s quite conceivable that with even greater restraint it would be possible to edge even closer to the Focus’s official 83.1mpg combined economy figure.
Should I buy one?
Possibly, but do your sums first, and be sure about what you want from your car.
As with Volkswagen and its BlueMotion models, Ford charges a premium for the Focus’s fuel-saving prowess, with the 88g/km model costing £750 more than the 99g/km variant in matching trim.
The 113bhp version of the same car, meanwhile, which gets to 62mph a full second more quickly while returning a claimed 67.3mpg combined with 109g/km of CO2, costs a further £250 less.
Balancing performance expectations against purchase price and running costs is becoming an increasingly complicated business.
If outright economy counts above all else, then put the Focus Econotetic on your shopping list, but it’s definitely a case of try before you buy. The trade-off in outright performance terms may be too much to bear for even the most committed environmentalist-cum-driving enthusiast.
Ford Focus Econetic Edge 1.6 TDCi
Price £18,145; 0-62mph 11.8sec; Top speed 116mph; Economy 83.1mpg (combined); CO2 88g/km; Kerb weight 1350kg; Engine 4 cylinders in line, 1560cc, turbodiesel; Power 104bhp; Torque 199lb ft; Gearbox 6-speed manual