Our cars: Ford Focus - March 2012
Week ending March 16
Driven this week: 300 miles
Ford Focus review
This was my first time in our Focus, and even though I only crawled it through London, I found plenty to like.
The turbocharged petrol engine for a start. Most of the hatches I get into have diesel engines – no surprise there – but it was a pleasure to drive a smooth, punchy petrol engine that’s free from low-speed and cold-start clatter. Even though we’re only averaging mpg of mid-30s, I reckon you’d have to be doing considerably more miles to consider the diesel – especially when pump prices are taken into account.
The rest of it? I love the Focus’s comfort and driving position. I also like the low speed ride comfort.
Major gripes are the slightly gimmicky controls and displays, which seem to lack both class and clarity to me. Neither does this latest Focus have the sharpness and fun of the previous car. But it is a lot more refined.
Week ending March 16
Driven this week: 451 miles
A 200-mile stint in our long-term Focus this week was the first experience I’ve had in the new model; for everything I like about it, there are things I don’t.
Firstly, our Focus has a DAB radio, seemingly far more complicated to use than the standard version. My taste in music appears to be different to everybody else’s in the office, so my first job was allocating a new preset for Kiss FM. This took almost 15 minutes, which resulted in the deletion of another station I wanted to keep.
Then there are the buttons on the steering wheel. Due to its contours, I found it almost impossible to reach the ‘up’ buttons using a thumb, so it was a case of moving my hand and looking down at the wheel. A busy dashboard layout made other tasks unnecessarily difficult.
As a driving tool, however, the Focus deserves the praise it receives. Precise steering and smooth gearchanges made manoeuvring it around town a pleasure, and the turbocharged engine provided plenty of overtaking ability on the motorway. My only criticism was the poor turning circle.
With a few ergonomic tweaks, the Focus could be as enjoyable to use as it is to drive.
Week ending March 2
Driven this week: 1420 miles
You may notice a jump in the Focus' mileage. The Ford's keys were commandeered by Sam Boyle, one of What Car?'s fuel efficiency testers, for a trip to Neuchatel in Switzerland. Sam and his fiance chucked a week's worth of ski gear at the Focus, which it swallowed with ease, and headed for the ferry.
On the 1400-mile round trip the Focus proved what relaxing cruiser it is. At 6'2" and 15 stone, Sam's not a small bloke, but he was comfortable the whole way there. The Ford's blind spot indicator made those Continental motorways miles even less stressful.
Like everyone who drives the Focus, Sam baulked at the fuel consumption though. He drove a four-wheel-drive car once he got to Neuchatel, so the Focus was mainly driven on motorways. Sadly, it returned 33.3mpg some way off the Ford's claimed 56.5mpg out of town figure.
The Focus is going in for its 12-month service, and I've asked for it to undergo the manufacturer's Econocheck scheme. For £29.99 a device is fitted to your car for a week to assess how, by adapting your driving style, you can cut your fuel bills. If my driving style is what's stopping me achieving the claimed figures, I'll hold my hand up.