Fleet News

Ford Focus 1.8 TDCi Ghia - 11,321

Ford

Review

WHEN I was offered a test drive in our long-term Ford Focus, my first inclination was to ask if there was something a little more exciting on offer.

However, being the newest member of the test team, I decided to stay mum and be thankful for small mercies.

Britain's best-selling car – and best-selling fleet car – seems to be everywhere, so I suppose I could be forgiven for aspiring to something a bit different.

Anyway, first job was food shopping and the Focus proved easy to park and manoeuvre around a packed car park. The boot tackled my monthly shop – indeed, there was so much room that my bags rolled around and happily unpacked themselves in the boot on the journey home. I should have used that handy cargo net.

The Focus is beginning to show its age. The rear head restraints often obscure the view through the rear window. Many cars now – including the Ford Fiesta – have head restraints integrated into the seat backs which can be raised when needed.

Next job was visiting parents via wonderful Lincolnshire back roads – bumpy, broken-up in places by a summer drought and there's always the odd slow-moving tractor thrown in for good measure. The Focus, with its superb ride, surefooted handling and 1.8-litre TDCi engine, made light work of it.

I am enjoying my higher seat position, achieved via an electric adjustment. Hmm, I'm starting to like this car. Once again, the boot space comfortably took the largest bag of compost. The journey home was no problem, with CD player and speakers tested to the max just to make sure they were up to standard. They passed.

One of the best bits of the car is the heated windscreen as, like everybody else, I only realised the de-icer was empty when the car was frozen solid. Brilliant.

But before travelling to the Orchid Festival at Kew, I needed to check the washer fluid level. Now, where's that bonnet release? After five minutes rummaging in the footwell, I resorted to the driver's manual. Oh – it's a lockable bonnet.

The official line from Ford is that it's for engine protection, to keep it tamper-proof. A USP for the commercial van sector to prevent vans being stolen with expensive loads, but perhaps unnecessary for the car sector?

Another complaint is that the interior central locking button was difficult to find.

While sitting in traffic on the way home, I realised our bags and possessions were on full display on the back seat and all the doors of the car were unlocked due to the key remote opening all the doors on the first press.

No sign of the central locking button. I found it the next morning under the door handle. I normally travel on my own and hate feeling vulnerable. Ford could ease my worries by changing the key remote sequence to one press for the driver's door and two to open the rest. It would also help if the central locking button was illuminated so it could be found quickly.

Overall, I like the Focus. It's easy to see why it is Britain's best-selling car and why it has been popular on the Fleet News long-term fleet.

Company car tax bill 2004/05 (22% tax-payer): £56 per month

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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