Ford Focus 1.0 Ecoboost Hybrid Mhev 155 Titanium X Style 5DR
The three-cylinder petrol engines are available in 1.0- or 1.5-litre capacities. And both are known quantities - the 1.0-litre was introduced for the last-gen Fiesta, and has since appeared in basically every Ford short of its bigger SUVs, MPVs and vans. And the GT and Mustang, obviously. It’s available in three different power outputs - 84, 99 or 123bhp. Meanwhile the 1.5-litre motor is the same one you get in the new Fiesta ST, meaning it can shut-off one of those three-cylinders under light loads for better economy. It’s available with 148 or 180bhp.
As for diesels, you can have a 1.5-litre with 94 or 118bhp (an all-new engine full of fuel-saving tech, that should clear emissions standards through to 2025), or a 2.0-litre with 148bhp. Every engine except the entry-level 1.0-litre petrol and 1.5-litre diesel can be had with an eight-speed automatic gearbox - a conventional auto rather than the old dual-clutch that’s operated with a Jaguar-style rotary controller to save console space - to replace the standard six-speed manual.
Far as the wagon goes, we’ve only driven the most powerful one - obviously - though we have tried various other engines in the hatch. Its 180bhp is a little less power than you get from basically the same engine in the Fiesta ST, but there’s still enough poke to see the wagon hit 62mph in 8.5 seconds and keep going until it hits 137mph. That’s just enough to satiate our appetite for family-friendly speed until the ST.
While it’s quieter here than in the Fiesta, as the revs rise you get a version of the same mini-M3 soundtrack. It’s still recognisably the same engine, even though it’s being asked to haul around twice as much car, with more than a trace of the same eager, engaging character that makes it such a pleasure to use in the ST. Good engine, would recommend.
Runs up the price a bit though, because you can only pair it with posh Vignale or ST-Line X (pictured, and the same as the car we tested) trims. Most people will go for one of the 1.0-litres. Our pick is the 123bhp. It’s a great engine, and in the hatch just about powerful enough, but in a wagon full of people and things, we suspect it might struggle. Could therefore be worth upgrading to the 148bhp 1.5. Only £500 more to buy outright, but does increase CO2 emissions from 108g/km to 125, and therefore your tax bill by £20 a year. More on the diesels when we get around to having a proper go.
The Focus’s ‘thing’ is supposed to be handling. And sure enough, the estate drives very nicely indeed. Less powerful hatchbacks get torsion beam suspension, but the 1.5-litre petrol and 2.0-litre diesel get a trick ‘SLA’ (short and long arm) independent setup. In our review of the hatch, Paul Horrell says the difference is like “taking off a thick pair of gloves”. Torsion beam cars are good, but it’s with the SLA that the Focus really comes alive. Good news, then, that every estate regardless of engine gets this SLA suspension, albeit with repositioned dampers to maximise loadspace.
On the lower, firmer ST-Line suspension of our test car, the Focus Estate handles very well - with precise, immediate steering (that every so often could do with being a fraction less immediate) and a sorted chassis. Rides well, too, even with ST-Line suspension and big wheels. It’s well damped and especially talented at dialling out sharp edges. The brakes are quite sharp though, with a lot of bite at the top of the pedal, making it hard to be progressive.
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