Fleet News

Ford Focus 1.8 TDi LX estate - 5,500 miles

Ford

Review

##fordfoe.jpg --Right##ONE of the newest additions to the Fleet NewsNet test fleet - the Ford Focus 1.8 Zetec estate - has certainly not had an easy start to its life. It has been treated to the sort of hard working days, both professional and leisure, which should be bread and butter to this sort of car and has so far passed with flying colours.

Its class-leading 1,580-litre luggage space has been put to full use, carrying everything from doors to camera gear, and it has proved supremely adaptable. However, the 60:40 rear backrest requires the seat cushion, which is not divided, to be lifted to fold completely flat, which cuts down the options for carrying luggage and people.

The 113bhp 1.8-litre engine performed well during a frantic few weeks of travelling and has rewarded with 40mpg at times. It is well worth the effort of persuading fleet drivers to be fuel conscious. Over a 60,000-mile contract, a carefully-driven Focus could save the fleet 121 gallons of fuel if it achieved 40mpg compared to 37mpg, which equates to ú392.

Furthermore, there are savings in wear and tear from careful driving, not to mention increased tyre life. Tyres have been under the spotlight for more than longevity, however, as Ford quotes no less than eight different size options with this Focus alone, each with its own CO2 rating. This offers a recipe for major headaches in Government as it tries to work out a manageable way to launch CO2-based company car tax in 2002 and even sooner as it ponders the complexities of CO2-based vehicle excise duty.

Tyres and CO2 figures aside, the Focus is an ideal example of what Ford does best - producing cars that are built to be practical. But there are a few niggles - why, for example, in these days of rust-proof cars, was the same care not extended to the small silver keyhole covers, which despite being untouched thanks to remote central locking are looking decidedly weathered.

As an example of just what good value it is, compare the Focus's ú14,500 asking price with those for mini-MPVs, most notably Vauxhall's new Zafira, which in the Elegance trim costs ú18,450.

John Maslen

CO2 emissions and fuel consumption data correct at time of writing. The latest figures are available in the Fleet News fuel cost calculator and the company car tax calculator.

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