But after lots of long, fast journeys, the engine has again proved that diesels benefit from increasing mileage and hard acceleration. While it is still a little noisy on acceleration, its performance and refinement has improved beyond measure. It's still not as good as PSA's HDi or VW's TDI units, but it's not far behind. But there has been a small price to pay for speed: economy has fallen by about 2mpg overall.
Because of the engine's tightness, I initially thought Ford had made a serious blunder in its choice of gear ratios. Fifth is high and the gaps between third, fourth and fifth seemed too far apart. This gave rise to the feeling that you are over-revving in the lower gears and when you changed up the engine was turning too slowly.
Now, with more than 6,000 miles on the clock and the engine spinning freely, all this has changed. The car feels lively and the virtues of its competent chassis can be explored to the full. Like the previous driver, I've used the Focus estate's load-carrying capacity to maximum advantage, helping a friend with a house move. Its ability to swallow large amounts of household paraphernalia never ceases to amaze. This brings me back to a complaint I made about the hatchback Focus - the seat backrest is divided 60:40, but the squab isn't. Most of the time it doesn't matter, but if you want to carry one passenger in the back, plus a lot of luggage, you're robbed of a flat load deck and some space. A friend's 1992 Escort suffers from the same problem, so isn't it about time Ford got this sorted?
Focus has a lot to offer - I like its style, handling and now its diesel engine. I can't think of a better all-rounder in the lower medium segment.