I’ve been driving our Titanium-spec 1.6 petrol five-door hatchback for almost two months, averaging about 300 miles a week, so it has given me plenty of time to get accustomed to motoring life in one of fleet’s stalwarts.
The thing which stands out the most is comfort. Sometimes after a three-hour journey I’m ready to call the chiropractor, but it’s a different story in the Focus. This is mainly down to the seats, which are designed to support your back in all the right places. Something as simple as car manufacturers getting the seating right can bring joy to thousands of company car drivers. It is surprising how some firms struggle to master this.
Other factors which ease a three-hour journey are the minimal cabin noise, especially on motorways, and the super-smooth suspension.
Ford has refined the new Focus with minimal gaps between body panels, thicker front door side glass and new double door seals all helping to block out wind noise. There’s nothing worse than having to crank up the stereo to drown out exterior noise.
Ford has also made the body structure 10% stiffer than the old model and added rear control blade multi-link suspension, which in layman’s terms means each rear wheel reacts independently when it hits a bump, helping to increase stability.
I don’t know what the technical terms mean, but they translate into a cushioned ride which irons out the hardest bumps on our roads.
And as well as comfort, the chassis and suspension also give confidence-inspiring front-end grip, meaning the Focus always feels planted to the road.
But while I’ve been enjoying the grip, I still haven’t got to grips with the £250 optional voice control system is fitted to our car.
This forms part of the advanced telephone pack which lets drivers control the Bluetooth-enabled telephone, stereo system, temperature control and satellite navigation by the sound of their voice.
So far I’ve failed to master the system, although this could be down to my Stoke accent, but I am determined to use it soon. I have used the satellite navigation system on several occasions, though. It gets drivers from A to B and it is really easy to choose locations through the touch screen.
I just want to view the map and my vehicle’s position but covering almost half the screen are buttons to alter the air-conditioning, radio volume, outside temperature, traffic alert, scale of map and vehicle positioning, making it far to busy.
Maybe once I’ve mastered the voice control these will miraculously disappear from the map – I hope so.
I’m also hoping fuel economy will improve. At present I’m averaging 35.3mpg, which is well short of Ford’s claimed 43.8mpg combined figure.
As most of my miles are being racked up on motorways, I’m a little disappointed with the Focus’ frugality.
Model: Ford Focus 1.6i Ti-VCT Titanium 5dr
Price (OTR): £15,825 (£20,025 as tested)
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: 35.3
CAP Monitor residual value: £5,374/34%
HSBC contract hire rate: £322
Expenditure to date: Nil