Long term car test: Ford Focus 1.0 EcoBoost
HAVING your cake and eating it is a bit of an odd expression when you take pause to consider it. I'd probably be a bit disgruntled if offered a cake with explicit instructions not to eat it. Yet it's a phrase that has entered the common parlance and it's one that's often trotted out when considering the car that's gently ticking cool in my driveway at the moment, Ford's Focus 1.0-litre EcoBoost.
The reason? Running my eye down the specification sheet for this car, three key numbers jump out at me. First up is the 125ps power output which is a reasonable amount of go for such a tiny three-cylinder petrol engine.
Then there's the fact that the combined fuel consumption figure is a very diesel-looking 56.5mpg and emissions are rated at just 114 g/km. Does this Focus really offer the economy of a diesel with the zippiness and handling of a petrol car? At first glance it would appear to do just that.
True, I haven't achieved anything like the quoted combined cycle fuel figure in my time with the car – but then real world results very rarely match quoted industry figures. Well over 40mpg on a regular basis is pretty much what I was expecting – and pretty much what I've been getting.
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Is that enough for technology that sees this car priced from around £18,000? That's a lot, though the lesser-powered 100ps 1.0 EcoBoost unit can be yours in a Focus for around £16,500. The idea of this long term test was to find out whether such a figure might be justified.
Certainly, there are some definite plus sides to this car. Let's talk about handling because that's something Ford Focus drivers hold dear to their hearts.
This three-cylinder engine is just tiny, the 999cc unit being so small that you could fit its block onto an A4 sheet of paper. It weighs just 97kg yet must propel 1,200kg of Focus up the road. It actually doesn't make a bad fist of this at all.
The Focus has a responsible adult side to its personality too. The quality inside is impressive; certainly a long way removed from the plasticky overstyled Focus interiors of the past. It doesn't quite feel as bulletproof as a Golf or, whisper it, an Astra but I love the driver-focused feel and the neat bank of switches in the middle of the dash arranged in a mobile phone-inspired herringbone design around a small central rotary selector.
Overall? Well, if you want a car that's entertaining to drive, which still turns in decent, if not remarkable, fuel figures and which will usefully reduce your tax bill, this Focus 1.0-litre Ecoboost model fits the description perfectly. Having your cake and eating it? Maybe not. There's no such thing as a free lunch, cake or otherwise.