Ford Focus Titanium 1.6 Ecoboost 27 | 04 | 2011Scotcars rating

    Ford tackles the best in class; but can it make the Focus even better than before?

    WHEN FORD DECIDED to create its latest Focus, it was faced with one major problem; just how do you improve on the car which is already the best in class? Ok, there are other cars some people might highlight as having a more attractive superficial interior quality, or perhaps they look slightly more sophisticated, but once out on the road the Focus has left the rest trailing when it comes to driving dynamics.

    After 12 years and two generations, the Ford Focus — first launched in 1998 — remains the car to beat, so I was keen to get behind the wheel of the latest 1.6 Ecoboost at Mar Hall, just outside Glasgow, and head off down to Largs.

    This latest version definitely has its mojo back; it's a delight. With its crisp steering responding instantly to the driver's input, the new Focus feels taut and alert. And the cabin's a quiet place to be cocooned.

    Now before we go any further, don't confuse the Ecoboost with Ford's miserly Econetic models; they are completely different powerplants. This all-new 1.6 Ecoboost is Ford’s new super-frugal turbocharged 1.6 petrol engine which delivers along the same lines as the naturally aspirated 2.0 would have a few years ago.

    How about this for starters; 177lb/ft of torque, 139g of CO2 per km, 148bhp, 0-62mph in 8.6secs and an almost diesel-like 47mpg on the combined cycle. Not bad, eh?

    Externally the Focus has morphed into something bigger and even more stylish. From the side it looks like a slightly stretched-out Fiesta, and it also shares the Fiesta's approach to visibility — both cars have a slightly bizarre back-half window design. I guess it's intended to make them look sleek and cool … or something along those mysterious arty lines. One thing's for sure, the current Focus certainly looks sharper than the model it replaces.

    CLICK HERE to see our Focus Video

    This is perhaps most noticeable at the front where the Focus is all triangles and trapezia. Some people might find it slightly too much, but there's no denying the styling is unique — the same argument can be made for the interior where there are pronounced styling lines embossed into the complicated-looking dashboard — and here we must remember the new Focus has been created as a car for all world markets supplied by worldwide factories.

    The cabin returns to the fresh, vibrant styling which made the original Focus such a star. Ok, some people might find it a little busy — there does seem to be buttons everywhere — but it all very quickly becomes instinctive. There's Bluetooth, voice activation, torque-vectoring ESP and a DAB digital radio are all standard, even on the entry-level £16k Edge.

    And while the quality has been significantly improved, so too is there more interior space for occupants. Rear passengers might find themselves feeling a tad more claustrophobic than in one of the German rivals, simply by dint of the sporty sloping roofline, but in reality it doesn't massively impinge on headroom.

    Ford has gone big-time with options. Now, take a deep — a very deep — breath. There's a device to tell you if you're falling asleep, automatic main beam for the headlights, a cruise control to ensure you maintain an optimum distance to the car in front, devices to warn you if you're drifting out of your lane and ultimately to steer you back in, a system designed to apply the brakes automatically if you're about to bump into the car in front in slow traffic … and automatic traffic sign and speed limit recognition.

    CLICK HERE to see another Focus Video

    Probably like me you're thinking there are a number of these — if not most — that any half decent driver, paying even 50% attention to what he or she is doing, won't need. Of course, now such technology is available, manufacturers have to offer it to buyers. Cynics, of course, will point to them as mere profit-generating tools.

    Strangely, luggage capacity — on a car which is wider and longer — is down on the outgoing model, but there's still more than enough space for all your goodies; there's 316 litres up to the parcel shelf with all the seats in place, or 1101 litres to roof level with the rear seats folded down. And while the tailgate opens very wide — and high — there's also a rather annoyingly high load sill.

    Anyway, enough. How was the Focus on the road? You'll not be surprised to hear it remains the best-in-class.

    After the slight disappointment of the previous generation Focus, this latest version definitely has its mojo back; it's a delight. With its crisp steering responding instantly to the driver's input, the new Focus feels taut and alert. And the cabin's a quiet place to be cocooned simply because of the ability of the car's suspension to smother bumps more quietly and effectively than before.

    While the 150bhp Ecoboost unit was full of poke and fun on the twisty route cross-country from Largs, it was also very relaxed and quiet when it came to cruising on the M8. It's really quite the perfect package.

    CLICK HERE to see Focus auto-park in action

    The Titanium comes with rear parking sensors, but in addition there's also side and front sensors; this, of course, all means you can look incredibly talented when you inch into the tightest parking space.

    But if even that's too difficult for you, there's also auto-park. This is brilliant, but at the same time leaves you with the strangest sensation. You pull up past a vacant parallel space and the car, with the driver simply controlling the clutch and throttle if needed, manoeuvres the car into the space. All you do is control the pedals and watch mesmerised as the steering wheel birls clockwise and anti-clockwise to ease the Focus into the parking bay. Weird!

    Since its launch in '98, the Focus has more often than not been the country's biggest-seller, and this new model will only further enhance its reputation. Ok, in Titanium spec it's not exactly cheap, at £19,745 without options — that's partly due to the fact the Titanium trim level is the lowest available with the EcoBoost engine — but it is something of a belter.

    With its coupe-like styling and sporty, aggressive stance, allied to its exceptional handling and ride, plus new generation of environmentally efficient engines, the newcomer ensures the Focus remains the leader of the pack.

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    Jim McGill

    Quick Stats
    Price OTR/As Tested £19,745 / £22,895
    Engine / Power: 1598cc / 150bhp
    How fast?: 0-62mph 8.6secs,  Max 130mph
    How big/heavy?: H1465mm, W1824mm, L4534mm / 1333kg
    How thirsty/CO2?: Combined 47.2mpg / CO2 139g/km
    InsGP/Road tax: 19 / tba
    Alternatives: VW Golf, Vauxhall Astra

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