ROAD TEST REPORT AND REVIEW: Ford Focus Zetec S 1.0T EcoBoost
A three-cylinder, 1.0-litre engine in a Ford Focus? Really? A slightly sceptical DAVID HOOPER finds out if the new EcoBoost engines live up to all the hype. Is less really more?
RAISED eyebrows and sceptical comments are perfectly normal and completely understandable when discussing Ford’s decision to put a tiny 999cc engine with just three cylinders into a car the size of the Focus.
I’m quite a fan of three-cylinder engines, some of them are very good, and in small city cars they can punch well above their weight, but surely expecting such a modest powerplant to lug a car the size of a Ford Focus around at anything more than the speed of a snail would be, at best, optimistic?
I certainly thought so, but having spent a week driving this Ford Focus Zetec S 1.0T EcoBoost, three-cylinder engine, I have to say I’m hugely impressed. A lower-powered 100PS version is also available.
Thanks to a masterpiece of turbo-charging, this tiny little engine developed by more than 200 engineers in Ford’s Dunton plant, in Essex, delivers performance equivalent to that you would expect from a 1.6-litre engine, and other than the endearingly distinctive three-cylinder burble which is only noticeable at certain speeds, I would challenge anyone to correctly “guess the engine size” from the car’s performance.
This amazing little engine creates 125PS – compare that to one of the best of the rest, VW’s little three-pot unit in the Up! That develops 60PS which is only half the power of the Focus. Ford’s nearest comparable four-cylinder engine is the 1.6-litre unit used in other Focus models, with exactly the same 125PS power output.
The engine pulls very well, and with a 0-62mph time of 11.3 seconds and enough mid-range power to make A-road overtakes safely achievable, contrary to what you might expect, the Focus is an easy car to live with.
Ford claim impressive fuel consumption figures 44.8mpg on the urban cycle and 56.5mpg on the combined, but on my test, I didn’t get anywhere near those giddy heights, with my Focus returning around 35mpg in town and low 40s on a fairly high-speed motorway run, but to be fair, this sort of engine is never going to be at its economical best at high motorway speeds. A lighter right foot would undoubtedly see much better results.
With a C02 figure of 114g/km, it falls into Band C, so your annual road tax will only cost £30 per year and is free for the first year.
The car’s road manners are up to the same high standards as the rest of the range, and its ride and handling are as good as anything on the market, although the concrete surface of the dreaded A180 in Lincolnshire still makes itself heard in the cabin.
The increasing number of potholes that are appearing are dealt with comfortably, and thanks to its rear parking sensors which are a worthwhile extra, slotting into a tight parking space is the easiest of tasks.
On the subject of optional extras, this Focus had one which I’ve not come across before. Just when you think you’ve seen it all on new cars, Ford has come up with a clever little device which protects the edges of your car’s doors.
If, like me, you remember those plastic door-edge guards you could buy from accessory stores, you’ll love the little door edge protectors which appear from within the door as it opens and hook themselves around the edge of the door. They disappear just as quickly as the door is closed. They are brilliant, like all the best ideas.
Other options featured on this car included the Driver Assist Pack which incorporates Active City Stop which will see the car intervene and apply the brakes at low speed if it detects that the driver has failed to notice a car in front. We’ve all done it, some of us have even got away with it! I’m talking about that horrible moment when you think the car in front has pulled away, you check right and move off, but the driver of the car in front, unseen by you, has had second thoughts and stopped again. With this system, the car will apply the brakes, hopefully avoiding the collision, or at least reducing its impact – and resulting damage. At £1,050 it has to be worth considering.
You also get more new tech included, like Traffic Sign Recognition, Driver Alert, Auto High Beam, and Blind Spot warnings.
The smart 18in alloys, at £100 a corner, with another option, but ones which I think are worth the money and make the car stand out from the crowd.
All these toys however, take the price to £22,320 on the road, although you could have the lower-powered 100PS version of the same engine in the Edge spec car which costs £16,545.
Ever since I drove the first of the new models during the international launch over a decade ago now, I’ve been a big fan of the Ford Focus, and spending some time with this latest newcomer with its tiny, yet massively impressive engine, has done nothing to dim my enthusiasm for a car which remains one of the best in its class.
THE VITAL STATISTICS
MODEL: Ford Focus Zetec S 1.0T EcoBoost.
FORD FOCUS RANGE: From Studio 1.6 5-door (£13,995) to ST-3 5dr (£25,495).
ENGINE: 1.0-litre 125PS three-cylinder petrol engine, driving front wheels through 6-speed manual gearbox.
PERFORMANCE: Top speed 120mph. 0-62mph in 11.3 secs.
ECONOMY: Urban: 44.8mpg.
Extra Urban: 67.3mpg.
Fuel tank: 55 litres.
CO2 EMISSIONS: 114g/km.
WARRANTY: 3 years/60,000 miles.
• All data correct at time of publication.