Ford Focus 1.0T 100 EcoBoost Zetec
The way I see it, the Ford Focus has always lived in the shadow of the Volkswagen Golf. It gets so, so close and then it falls at the very last hurdle - overall quality. You see, the Focus has always been a good car, offering a pleasurable drive, good levels of equipment, good all round refinement and excellent practicability, but the badge combined with interior quality has swayed the motoring press toward VW's offering...
...so, can the latest Ford Focus change that?
Well, for starters, it looks more modern than the new VW. The Golf is a good looking car but the Focus simply has more purpose and it is more daring in its design - it is a huge contrast from the previous Focus, whereas the Golf looks mostly the same. This daring is why, for me, I would rather be seen driving a Ford Focus. But would I prefer to drive it?
I have recently been handed to keys to a 2012 plate Ford Focus equipped with the award-winning 1.0-litre turbocharged EcoBoost engine. When it comes to buying a family hatchback, practicality and safety top the check list, but let's put that on hold for a second - this engine really defines the way in which the new Focus feels. It just feels so sporty.
Despite its modest capacity, this engine produces 99 bhp and 118 lb /ft of torque... that isn't much, but the engine loves to rev and the torque is available low down in the rev range. The result is a car that makes swift progress and can keep up with the flow of traffic quite easily. Hold on to second gear at 30 mph, plant the throttle, and on full boost the car hurtles forward at a respectable pace. It's safe to say that if you get caught out at a roundabout you'll be able to make a hasty retreat. The 6-speed manual gearbox is also smooth and willing, with a long sixth gear which keeps the engine quiet at motorway speeds.
According to Ford, 0 - 62 mph takes 12.5 seconds in this car, but I think that's modest... 12 seconds sounds about right.
Moving back to what really matters in a family hatch, practicality, and the Ford is incredibly capable. It has a 276-litre boot that expands to 1,502-litres if you flip the seats up. Interior quality is incredible compared to the outgoing model, with the dashboard laid out in a very intuitive manner - all switchgear and controls are just a touch away. Comfortable and supportive seats make for a nice place to be.
On the move, the Focus is excellent. As noted, it has perky performance, but ride and handling is fantastic - there's little body roll and the suspension absorbs bumps with kudos.
A five-star Euro NCAP rating further adds to its appeal.
At £17,295 on the road, the 1.0-litre EcoBoost Focus is more expensive than a 1.6 TDCi in Edge trim. I would say that based on the character of the petrol unit, you should go for this one, however with the Golf 1.2 TSI rolling in at £17,505, the Focus has serious competition.