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First drive: new Ford Focus

Ford

Review

The steering rack has been made more direct so that the Focus feels a little sharper and more responsive when turning in.

But although progress has been made with the technology over the years, the Focus was guilty of providing inconsistent feel at times over our twisty test route. This probably won’t matter to most drivers, but as the steering feel of the previous two generations of the car has been peerless in its class, it’s quite a disappointment.

There are a number of improvements to the chassis that make the Focus feel a little more polished than before, including what Ford calls ‘torque vectoring control’, standard on all models.

Essentially it’s an enhanced feature of the electronic stability control, and can help eliminate understeering in bends by subtle and imperceptible use of the brakes.

The Focus can be equipped with a lane departure alert, using information from a windscreen-mounted camera, while a further setting can also ease the car back towards the centre of the lane if it veers too close to the lines. Repeated intervention results in the car recommending the driver stops for a coffee break.

The lane keeping aid is part of the driver assistance pack (along with blindspot warning, traffic sign alert and automatic main beam) and is one of seven options packs, while there are 10 stand-alone options.

Engine choices include a revised 1.6-litre diesel with 95bhp on the entry-level Edge, or 115bhp available across all equipment grades, a 140bhp 2.0 TDCi and a 163bhp 2.0 TDCi, both 2.0-litre versions offered with the six-speed Powershift dual-clutch automatic.

The entry-level petrol engine is a 105bhp 1.6-litre, with a 125bhp version sitting above it in the range, or a 150bhp turbocharged 1.6 Ecoboost. It will be joined later in the year by a 182bhp version. All petrol engines have CO2 emissions below 140g/km.

Both petrol Ecoboost and the 1.6 TDCi come with automatic stop-start technology as standard, while the Focus is also fitted with movable vanes behind the grill that improve aerodynamics and improve fuel consumption further.

Verdict
The Focus is a well equipped range that offers optional big car features and class leading safety kit. It is still the class benchmark for ride and handling (just) while its improved running costs projections will also be welcomed.

Ford Focus 1.6 TDCi Zetec 5dr
P11D £18,440
Power 115bhp
Torque 199lb-ft
Combined mpg 67.3
CO2 emissions 109g/km
BIK tax band (2010) 13%
Annual BIK tax (20%) £479
Residual value (4yr/80k) £4,475/24%
 

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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