THE original of the species was launched here in Ireland as far back as 1998. Since then the Ford Focus has been on Ireland’s top selling car list no less than ten times!
Road Tested By Hugh Maguire.
Now the new 2011 model Ford Focus which was launched here in April of this year is set to continue that success as it is already Ireland’s top selling car ahead of the VW Golf and Toyota Avensis.
Prices for the new Focus range are competitive and kick off at just €20,825, however this week I am road testing the 1.6 TDCI diesel Zetec model to see just what has made the new Focus such a hit with the motoring public.
As before there is a host of models and engine/body style options to choose from. My test car is the four door saloon powered by a 1.6 litre Zetec diesel engine and benefiting from some of the new technologies which Ford have recently introduced, namely Auto Start Stop, Torque Vectoring Control, and Active Park Assist.
The new 2011 Focus boasts a more muscular style which is appealing giving the new car a distinctive profile on the road. Personally I prefer the shape of the hatch to the saloon, it just seems more balanced. Nevertheless both look very well indeed.
Behind The Wheel
The cabin of the new Focus is excellent and actually quite contemporary with sweeping lines and a definitely sporty overtone. I like the broad centre console with large easy to use buttons for the audio and climate controls, while the instruments are equally clear and concise. I am a little less keen on the blue instrument needles and blue switch lighting though.
The driving position is great and the level of standard equipment as we have come to expect from Ford is very good. I am not going to list everything here but in addition to all the now expected safety features such as ABS, ISOFIX, multiple airbags and so on, the new Focus boasts some very interesting new technologies which merit mention.
The new Focus can be ordered with Active City Stop, a feature which when it senses an impending impact at city traffic speeds will automatically apply the brakes to either reduce the impending impact speed or maybe avoid it altogether.
Another nice feature which was on my test car is the Active Park Assist. Put simply this system will steer the car automatically (you can completely remove your hands from the steering wheel) into a parallel parking space. The driver simply controls the speed as usual via the accelerator and brake. It takes a bit of getting used to, as you must trust the car but it works very well. A great feature for those who hate trying to parallel park in tight spaces.
Auto Start Stop is becoming ever more popular in a bid to reduce emissions and so to it is with the new Focus. The engine simply stops and starts automatically in traffic saving fuel and reducing emissions.
This 1.6 TDCI produces 95 PS and is mated to a smooth 6-speed manual gearbox. I found it to be a lively and free revving unit that also proved quite refined. With plenty of mid range get up and go the new Focus performs very well.
Furthermore it returns pretty good fuel consumption results too, with this Zetec burning 6.0 litres per 100km over my 800km on the road. In addition this engine falls into tax band A at just €104 for annual road tax.
Ford’s engineers have always managed to produce cars with a very good chassis and the new Focus is no different. In fact I could go so far as to say that the Focus is one of the best handling cars in its class. The ride and handling combination is just about perfect, comfortable and smooth yet firm enough to be rewarding to drive.
The steering is nicely weighted, and the powerful brakes provide reassuring stopping. Accomodation in the saloon is very good with ample head and legroom for adults both front and rear. The boot is a decent size too!
I really like the new Ford Focus. It really does everything very well and nothing badly! The Focus 1.6 TDCI costs €23,425. The Zetec pack on the test car adds 17 inch alloys and rear privacy glass at an additional cost of €200, while the Active Park Assist costs €700 and Bluetooth with Voice Activation adds another €200, bringing the total for my test car to €24,575 which is very good value.