Ford is targeting fleets with a broader low-CO2 offering in the Focus range and catching up with the growing range of sub-100g/km medium cars on the market.
The 1.6 TDCi Zetec Econetic emits 99g/km of CO2 to attract a benefit-in-kind rate of 14%.
For even lower emissions, drivers can opt for the 88g/km Edge derivative which has less generous standard equipment, such as steel wheels instead of alloys, but for most people the Zetec should be the best compromise.
When the Focus arrived three generations ago in 1998 it was praised for being driver oriented, and that is still the case today. Its snappy gearchange and sharp handling encourage enthusiastic driving.
Unfortunately, the 1.6 TDCi Econetic’s gearing lets it down somewhat.
You have to work it hard to make any kind of progress, and changing up a gear when the gearchange indicator suggests leaves it shuddering and begging you to drop down.
Sixth gear is best saved for motorway driving and a liberal use of third gear is required for hurried A-road overtakes.
The standard specification is good and includes DAB radio, Bluetooth and 16-inch alloys, but the cabin is a fairly gloomy place to be with lots of dark plastics.
The sports seats provide a low driving position, which adds to the driver-oriented feel, and they provide plenty of support, meaning you can cover long distances before your back begins to ache.
Our test car was equipped with the Convenience Pack (£675), which features active park assist. For anyone not familiar with park assist it can take a bit of getting used to.
When wishing to parallel park you engage park assist, drive along while the car searches for a suitable space,and once it’s found one it will reverse into the space while giving you instructions (such as when to change between first and reverse).
Although a cool trick, it doesn’t work particularly well in the Focus, leaving about a foot between the car and the kerb.
But, for all its foibles, is it worth living with the Focus for its combined fuel consumption figure of 76.4mpg?
Well, the Volkswagen Golf and Seat Leon 1.6 TDI both match the Focus’s emissions and achieve an almost as impressive 74.3 mpg, while managing to be a much more pleasant way of covering high miles.
The new Golf Bluemotion will emit 85g/km. The Kia Ceed 1.6 CRDi, with emissions of 100g/km, is also a sound choice with a much more willing engine than the Focus.
If driver enjoyment is high up on your wish list than the Focus is worth considering, but there are much better all-rounders available.
By Andrew Brady