Fleet News

Ford Focus 1.6i Ti-VCT Titanium 5dr

Ford

Review

EVER since the Ford Focus replaced the Escort back in 1998, it has consistently remained near the top of the sales charts as Britain’s best-selling car.

It was a breath of fresh air when it first hit the roads and, almost a decade later, its popularity shows no signs of abating.

Ford’s success with the Focus is down to several key ingredients. It is economical, it handles well, is easy to get parts for and often scores well in reliability tests.

Replacing a trusted favourite can be a difficult move for manufacturers with a faithful following but, with many drivers accusing the old Focus of becoming dated, in particular its interior, it had reached the end of its natural life-cycle, despite sales still going well.

The new model, our latest long-termer, has had a complete overhaul. It has a new shape, is larger than its predecessor, has much firmer handling and boasts a five-star occupant protection rating from Euro NCAP.

The Focus comes in six trim levels, from the entry-level Studio up to Titanium. Available in petrol or diesel, 1.4-litre, 1.6-litre or 2.0-litre and manual or automatic, there’s an option for most fleet tastes.

Our version, the Titanium 1.6i Ti-VCT five-speed manual starts at £15,525 on-the-road but is fully loaded with extras, pushing the cost up to a whopping £20,025.

I’m not sure how many cost-conscious fleet managers would spec a Focus up so much but, for an extra £4,200, we have the luxury of a DVD navigation system with six-disc CD changer, adaptive front lights, ESP, rear parking sensors and leather seats.

It also includes an advanced telephone pack which means drivers with Bluetooth-enabled phones can use the same DVD navigation screen to make calls. It even downloads the contents of your phone address book on to the built-in screen and allows voice-activated control.

The Titanium doesn’t feature the optional KeyFree System, which is a shame as it’s a useful and simple time-saving device which worked faultlessly on a previous long-termer, the Renault Megane.

I actually preferred the sweeping irregular curves on the dash of the old Focus. They have been replaced by the sort of standard dash found in almost every other car.

The exterior on our Focus is aquarius blue and contrasts with a blue and beige interior which extends across the dash. It is an acquired taste but works well and the two-tone look gives a sporty feel.

The 1.6 petrol version feels a little slow. I’m not sure if this is because I’ve been driving diesels with more torque for the past six months or maybe it’s due to the low mileage on our long-termer. It has less than 1,000 miles on the clock, so hopefully once it has loosened up it will feel sprightlier. As the mileage is still low I’ll also leave the test mpg figure until my next update.

What we expect

WE’RE hoping the Focus lives up to its reputation as a class-leading fleet car. We will be getting to grips with the voice-activated controls on the audio and phone system so will report back in due time, and after a few more miles have been put on the clock the engine should also loosen up.

The manufacturers

‘WITH the new Focus we strived to set new standards in every area. This year our best-selling car has exceeded sales of 100,000 across Europe and is currently Britain’s best-selling car, becoming the top choice with both retail and fleet customers. We are confident that it will remain top of the tables for some time.

‘Nearly six months after its initial launch, the Ford Focus made its auction debut recently. All models achieved a remarkable residual value in excess of 80% of list price.

‘We are delighted with the positive response to the new Focus. Such a strong residual value is great news for retail and fleet buyers alike and testament to the increased quality and craftsmanship across the Focus range.’

Steve Hood, marketing director, Ford of Britain

STANDARD

  • 16-inch five spoke alloy wheels
  • Sony audio system with single slot CD player
  • ABS with EBD
  • Control blade rear suspension
  • Driver’s, front passenger, front seat side and side curtain airbags
  • Intelligence protection system
  • Immobiliser
  • Thatcham category one alarm
  • Air conditioning
  • Front fog lights
  • Auto lighting headlights
  • Headlamp delay
  • Rain-sensing wipers
  • Electric front/rear windows

    OPTIONS

  • DVD navigation system with 6-disc CD auto-changer - £2,250
  • Advanced telephone pack – Bluetooth hands-free and voice control system £250
  • ESP with EBA and traction control £250
  • Adaptive front lighting system £250
  • Park assist – rear £200
  • Titanium leather styling pack – leather-trim seats, power seat adjust and metallic paint £1,000
    Total options: £4,200
    Standard price (OTR): £15,825
    Price as tested: £20,025

    Fact file:
    Model: Ford Focus 1.6i Titanium 5dr
    Price (OTR): £15,825 (£20,025 as tested)
    Mileage: 795
    CO2 emissions (g/km): 155
    Company car tax bill (2005/6) 22% tax-payer: £52 a month
    Insurance group: 7
    Combined mpg: 43.8
    Test mpg: N/A
    CAP Monitor residual value: £5,400/34%
    Expenditure to date: Nil
    HSBC contract hire rate: £322
    Figures based on three-years/ 60,000-miles

  • 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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