Ford’s hardtop convertible Focus arrived at our office at a perfect time for me.
I’ve just taken delivery of my new long-term test car – the Focus Coupé-Cabriolet’s nemesis, Vauxhall’s Astra TwinTop. So I am ideally placed to see how the Blue Oval’s first venture in the increasingly popular coupe-cabriolet market shapes up.
Those wanting to cruise around with the roof down will want to look good, so Ford employed Italian coachbuilders Pininfarina to wave some pencils over the standard design. As a result, the front has extra shiny bits and a mean-looking new bumper, while the back has been completely restyled to cope with the folding roof mechanism.
Cars with CC in the name have a tendency to suffer from Substantial Derriere Syndrome. When I first drove the Focus CC at launch I thought the stylists had done a pretty good job, but against the Astra TwinTop it’s clear the Ford does have a more substantial rear end. It doesn’t look too bad with the top down, but with the roof in place things look a little odd.
However, beneath the lengthy bootlid lies a substantial boot, and one that can accommodate considerably more baggage than the Astra. With 534 litres of space with the roof up (the Astra manages 440 litres), it is one of the largest boots in the sector, and can still hold a suitcase or two when the roof is down.
Inside, the CC is virtually indistinguishable from the standard Focus, although Ford has included a generous array of gadgetry. The top of the range CC-3 includes 17-inch alloys, a six-CD changer, partial leather trim, cruise control and heated seats, as well as automatic wipers and headlights. There are rear seats which can accommodate children but they won’t thank you on long journeys.
The main feature, of course, is the folding roof and it’s very impressive. Ford has opted for a two-piece system, unlike the Astra’s three-panel roof. At the touch of a button its myriad motors perform a mechanical ballet, transforming from coupe to convertible in under 20 seconds.
On the move, the standard Focus parentage is obvious. The handling is excellent and in the dry you’d be hard pressed to notice any difference between hatchback and CC. While ride quality is comfortable without being wallowy, the only real concern is the above-average wind noise with the roof up, with a very annoying whistle coming from the top of the A-pillar.
Power in the car we tested comes from a 2.0-litre petrol engine developing 143bhp and returning a very reasonable 37.6mpg. As with all modern Ford engines it’s far from bad, but lacks low-down torque. Consequently, hauling the extra bulk can seem a touch arduous. The obvious choice would be the diesel option, which features far more torque and is more economical too.
P11D value: £18,607
CO2 emissions (g/km): 179
BIK % of P11D in 2007: 22%
Graduated VED rate: £150
Insurance group: 11
Combined mpg: 37.6
CAP RV (3yr/60k): £7,100/38%
Monthly lease (3yr/60k): £376
The Ford is the cheapest and comes with bags of kit as standard. The Astra is close behind but can’t quite compete on equipment. Neither can the Renault, which is more than £300 more. The Volkswagen is the most expensive and is in a lower spec version than its rivals.
Another good showing from Ford, as the Focus pollutes less than its rivals and fits into a tax band 2% lower than its nearest rival. That equates to a tax bill for a 22% taxpayer of £75 a month for the Focus and £83 for the Astra. The Megane and Eos will cost £87 and £99 respectively.
Renault plays its trump card – servicing, maintenance and repair works out at more than £100 cheaper than the Vauxhall over a three-year/60,000-mile fleet life. The Ford is virtually the same cost as the Astra, while the Volkswagen takes a close fourth place.
Megane: 3.19 (pence per mile) £1,914 (60,000 miles total)
Astra: 3.42 £2,052
Focus: 3.44 £2,064
Eos: 3.51 £2,106
Ford’s excellent reputation for engines is well-deserved as it is the most frugal unit out of the four cars here. It will return a combined mpg of 37.6, compared to the Vauxhall’s 36.7mpg. The Renault and Volkswagen are left behind with 34.4 and 34.0mpg respectively.
Focus: 11.12 £6,672
Astra: 11.39 £6,824
Megane: 12.16 £7,296
Eos: 12.30 £7,380
The Renault takes a hit on residual values as it is the oldest car here. CAP reckons the Megane will retain 34% of its value after three years/ 60,000 miles. The Focus can’t beat the Volkswagen on RV percentage (38% versus 44%), but the lower list price means it stays ahead.
Focus: 19.17 (pence per mile) £11,502 (60,000 miles total)
Eos: 19.39 £11,634
Astra: 19.54 £11,724
Megane; 20.38 £12,228
The Ford is the cheapest to run, beating the Vauxhall by just under £400. It’s cheap to buy and holds its value well, and is also the most frugal. The Megane – about £800 more than the Ford –and Eos, a further £90 more expensive, lag behind.
Focus: 33.73 (pence per mile) £20,238 (60,000 miles total)
Astra: 34.35 £20,610
Megane: 35.05 £21,030
Eos: 35.20 £21,120
It’s a pretty dominant performance by the Focus. It is the cheapest to run and the best equipped. Company car drivers might be slightly put off by the looks, in which case the Astra is not that much more expensive and looks much better, but drivers would have to have some serious badge-snobbery about them to want to stretch to the Eos.
The Megane has served Renault well but it is an old car in this fashion-conscious sector.