Car Review: Ford Focus 1.0T EcoBoost (125PS) 5 Door Hatch Titanium
It’s hard to believe that the Ford Focus has been with us since 1998 but the ubiquity of all three generations of this car on our roads is evidence of its popularity with the Irish motorist. The Ford Focus is consistently one of Ireland’s bestselling cars but this is no fluke or product of clever marketing – it’s one of the finest handling hatchbacks around and has been since its 90’s debut.
But there has to be more to the Ford Focus than just great handling to ward off the competition in the hotly contested medium sized hatchback segment. And that’s what Ford has addressed with the new Focus, by sharpening up the styling and improving the interior, both areas where the car was starting to lag behind rivals.
You can watch a video review of the Ford Focus below or keep scrolling down for a full, in-depth review.
The styling of the Mark 3 Focus was somewhat controversial with accusations of blandness and anonymity being fired at it. But it was never an unattractive car. So Ford hasn’t changed the general shape, but they have added a new bonnet, new headlamps and Ford’s new trapezoid grille. At the rear the tail lights are a bit slimmer and a few extra creases here and there give the car a much more elegant and flattering shape. The new grille is unmissable, giving the Focus an identity and premium presence it was bereft of before.
Inside, there is a new three spoke steering wheel and Ford has updated the graphics on the trip computer to make them more readable. It feels upmarket in the cabin and the material quality has been visibly improved, while Ford has removed a lot of the little fiddly buttons that used to plague the centre console and introduced a more modern infotainment system called Sync 2 (more on that in Equipment below). It’s still not up to class-leading levels of quality and aesthetics, but it’s close, and has its own very Ford identity, with trademark blue and white illumination and a comfortable, satisfying driving position.
The Focus has not changed in size so inside there is plenty of space front and back, but the boot is still on the small side for this class at 316 litres. But in its favour, it’s got a flat floor, wide opening and there’s a spare wheel included under the floor.
Ford has made a few changes under the skin to cement that connected to the road feel that is so much part of the Focus DNA. They’ve revised parts of the suspension, like the shock absorbers and suspension bushes, and increased the “structural stiffness of the front”. All you need to know is that the Focus is still a great car to drive, the steering is as crisp as ever and it takes on the bends with a finesse that you would expect from a hot hatch, and be delighted to find in a family hatchback like this!
Going around a bend the Focus just feels so elastic, with a tautness that seems to defy the natural laws of physics. There’s a harmony between what the front and rear of the car is doing so it feels fluid and composed going around a bend, changing direction crisply and precisely, with no obvious wallow of its body weight. Ford just seems to have nailed that Goldilocks zone of suspension engineering, where it’s not too firm and it’s not too soft. This car will munch up the miles in comfort on a motorway and it’s settled over bumps and uneven surfaces, yet take it off the big roads and motorways, and this car will never cease to impress you with its grip and body control.
The test car was fitted with Ford’s 1.0 litre EcoBoost turbocharged three cylinder petrol engine with 125PS. This engine is only available on the Titanium trim, but a version with 100PS is available on Style and Zetec trims.
It’s a lively engine punching far above its small on paper capacity of 1.0 litre. With 125PS it was never going to be lazy, but the power delivery is very smooth and it’s easy to access the power you need from the six speed manual gearbox. It’s amazingly smooth and refined for a three cylinder petrol engine. Combined with that great Focus handling, this petrol powered Focus feels sporty, responsive and refined.
There are also 1.6 diesels (95PS and 115PS) and a 2.0 litre diesel (150PS) available if petrol is not your thing.
If there is to be a downside to the 1.0 litre EcoBoost (125PS), it is the economy. Despite an official economy of just over 60mpg, I could only squeeze out 46mpg over about 900kms of driving. It’s not bad for a petrol car of this size, but disappointing considering how successful this new engine is in other areas like power and refinement. The CO2 emissions are low at just 108g/km so it will cost just €190 to tax this model per year.
There are four trim levels – Focus, Style, Zetec and Titanium – and the Focus is available as a hatchback, saloon or estate. The very base model is probably best avoided because equipment is sparse; you have to go up to Style for things like air con and alloy wheels. Zetec adds more kit including a chrome belt line finisher on the window line, front fog lamps, sports-tuned suspension and sports style front seats. Titanium sits top of the range with external updates like a chrome finished grille, and inside there is cruise control, dual zone climate control, keyless start and four electric windows (see www.ford.ie for more on equipment).
Sync 2 is a sophisticated infotainment system that comes with an 8” colour touchscreen, that can also respond to commands via voice, and has an attractive and easy to use interface to control functions like making calls, climate control and multimedia. Sadly it’s just an option on the range but on all but the very base model you do get a version of Sync that comes with a 4.2” colour screen that can be controlled via voice or steering wheel mounted controls, and includes a Bluetooth connection.
Ford’s Active Park Assist is also available as an option. This automatic parking system will parallel park the car, and now has the added feature of perpendicular parking in bays. Very clever!
I drove the Ford Focus last year just before the new car came in, and while there were a lot of things I liked about it, I did feel that the interior and exterior styling were starting to look a little bit tired and that was giving a competitive advantage to newer and flashier rivals.
Well Ford must have got my memo because they have done exactly what I wanted them to do and addressed both of those areas; the car looks smarter and the interior is much more attractive and user-friendly. The car hasn’t changed in size and family buyers may be put off by the smallish boot knowing that they can choose from rivals with greater capacity, but there should be no complaints about cabin space.
This was my first time to sample Ford’s EcoBoost engine in the Focus and it is a revolution in itself with its impressive performance and refinement, combined with low CO2 emissions. It’s hard to match the 60mpg official economy that Ford quote for this engine, mid 40s seems more achievable in every day driving. Yet in every other area this engine scores and it makes the Focus really smooth, relaxing and fun to drive.
And let’s not forget that this is one of the finest handling hatchbacks money can buy. That makes this Ford Focus a very hard car to beat.
Model Tested: Ford Focus 5 door Hatch Titanium
Price: €25,295 (Range starts at €20,295)
Engine: 1.0 litre three cylinder turbo petrol
Power: 125 PS (123bhp)
0-100km/h: 11 seconds
Economy: 60mpg (4.7l/100km)
CO2 Emissions: 108g/km
Motor Tax: €190 per year