Fo­cus – a treat with a turbo

Yorkshire Post - Motoring - - FEATURES - Fred­eric Manby

THIS car is one of the head­lin­ers of 2011.

The Ford Fo­cus did not win Car of the Year 2011 award be­cause it was not on sale in time, but its trail-blazer, the CMax, on the same chas­sis, was short-listed.

Nis­san’s all-elec­tric, short­hop Leaf won the ti­tle, plus the World Car of the Year ti­tle – show­ing that the vot­ing ju­rors are keen on elec­tric cars in prin­ci­ple.

Ford will have a hy­brid elec­tric/bat­tery car on sale within a year but is some way off an all-elec­tric ri­val to the Nis­san Leaf. Most of my mo­tor­ing could be done in a car like the Leaf but at £23,000, it is ex­pen­sive.

Most of us will con­tinue to run a car on petrol or diesel for at least the next 10 years.

My test car was painted in Candy Yel­low, a £745 de-luxe ex­tra, triple-coated fin­ish, which re­ceived a melange of hoots, shock and ap­proval. I have seen Mazda and SEAT hatch­backs in a sim­i­lar colour. It re­sem­bles a mix of the yel­low from Bras­sica napus and the stuff to com­bat green wa­ter in my frog­less pond. (Once again, the win­ter killed them off).

The only stan­dard colours of­fered on the Fo­cus are red or white. You’ll pay ex­tra for the oth­ers, which are vari­a­tions of red, sil­ver and blue, plus “pan­ther black” or, I sup­pose, black pan­ther. Green is ab­sent this time – a shame be­cause I like a green Fo­cus.

So, any colour you like as long as it is red or white, or you have to pay ex­tra. It is not long ago (a cliche, be­cause it is sev­eral years) that Fo­cus and its ilk were a lot cheaper than they are now. In 2002, a five­door, with a 1.8 diesel en­gine, cost around £13,500. You can add £5,000 to that price to­day for its suc­ces­sor.

The car I tested cost £19,745 in Ti­ta­nium trim with a beefy 1.6-litre petrol turbo, less the paint charge, £400 for 18-inch wheels, £525 for park­ing as­sis­tance and power-fold mir­rors, and £750 for a pack­age which was worth hav­ing if you are a dozy driver. Viz, low-speed crash preven­tion, lane-de­par­ture warn­ing, lane-keep­ing as­sis­tance, sleepy-driver alert, au­to­matic head­lamp dip­ping, blind-spot mir­rors and traf­fic sign recog­ni­tion.

This lat­ter item flags up speed lim­its. In the­ory, a smart idea. In prac­tice, on the demo car it was of­ten in­ac­cu­rate and some­how spot­ted a sign for 100, plus no-over­tak­ing signs which did not ex­ist.

I asked Ford to com­ment, and am still wait­ing. My con­clu­sion is that these and other signs are in its li­brary. Spain, for ex­am­ple, has those signs and the over­take, don’t over­take signs are com­mon. There was also a loose panel on the trans­mis­sion tun­nel – pos­si­bly caught by a size-12 boot.

There is a lot to like about the Fo­cus. Its shape is at­trac­tive and stands com­par­i­son with an As­tra, Me­gane or C4. Some com­men­ta­tors say it does not feel as sharp-han­dling as the last Fo­cus. I can see their point, but it is not im­por­tant.

This car is lovely to drive. How­ever, the over-size wheels were to blame for a lumpy ride over bumpy roads.

EYE-CATCH­ING: Ford’s Fo­cus fit­ted with a beefy 1.6-litre petrol turbo.

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