Ford Focus ECOnetic 2008 3,000 Mile Test

Fri, 15 Aug 2008

I’ve got my own cute little FIAT 500. But the car I’ve been doing the miles in is a Ford Focus ECOnetic. 

It took a long time to arrive because I’d ordered it in ‘Frozen White’ and the first production ECOnetics were metallic blue.

Extras include Quickclear screen, perimeter alarm, adaptive front lighting, interior stainless steel interior styling pack, rear park assist, rear side window sun blinds, power converter and, most useful to me, the Communications Pack of small colour screen satnav with a removable chip memory and Bluetooth hands free system.

Normally the car would list at £16,550, but mine came in at £18,625, though all Fords are priced to be discounted so you can knock as least a couple off that.

All Focus III 1.6 diesels are under 121g/km CO2, so £35 tax, but by virtue of low rolling resistance tyres and an aerodynamic body kit the ECOnetic gets down to 115g/km and squeezes an extra 3mpg out of a gallon at a certificated combined figure of 58.9mpg. The 90PS version does even better at 114g/km and 65.6mpg.

I got 63.9 on my first day with the car on a business trip into Fulham. But that soon dropped to a more realistic 62. And, over 2,988 miles, mostly on BP Ultimate diesel, I’ve averaged 56.51mpg. Next fill I’m going to switch to Total as see if it makes any difference. Possibly later I’ll try Tesco combined with Millers Dieselpower Sport 4.

Economy drivers may think these figures aren’t too good, but, though I stick to 70 these days, those 2,988 miles included traffic jams a steep ascent from Penrith to Hexham via Alston, and filming, which always wastes a lot through stops, starts and idling.

Like a Golf BlueMotion the ECOnetic comes on slightly dropped and stiffened suspension, but 15” steel wheels with 195x65 Michelin Energy tyres. That doesn’t read like a recipe for fun, but actually it drives beautifully with nice, meaty steering, faultless handling and a decent ride. Six hours behind the wheel are no problem at all.

The £1,000 Comms Pack satnav is a real boon. To update the satnav all you have to do is replace the memory stick. My Nokia 6267 paired up on the 2nd or 3rd attempt and, like Blue&Me in my FIAT, uploads all my latest dialled numbers as soon as I switch on the ignition. I never miss a call.

It was quite interesting to compare ‘my’ Focus to a Volvo C70 and S30 with basically he same floorpan. Volvos don’t have the same programmable steering that gives you the option of three levels of assistance. For me, the Sport setting of the Focus is ideally weighted. But the C70 and C30 seemed to be permanently set between Comfort and Light, losing perceived ‘feel’ and making the Volvos appear less sharp through bends and roundabouts, despite 17” wheels and 205/50 R17 tyres. Proving, once again, the fallacy that fat, low profile tyres make a car handle better.

The sheer pleasure of driving the Focus, and its economy, is actually confining my little FIAT to its car cover. Though obviously if anyone asked me if I’d rather be seen in the Focus with its plastic wheeltrims and slightly embarrassing bodykit, or the FIAT, the answer would have to be the Italian.

For prices, specs, engines and transmissions, dimensions, and performance and economy, please click the tabs.

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