The most fuel efficient, sporty Ford ever to be released? Read on to find out…
The Mk3 Ford Focus Zetec-S is at the time of writing the sportiest model in the range. Yet it’s available with a three cylinder 1.0 petrol engine, which at first appearance seems at odds with intentions of the car, a bit like a lamb dressed as a wolf. Although this little lamb is on steroids as the engine is blessed with a turbo, a hark back to the Japanese pocket rockets of the 80’s which featured small displacement and high BHP. This particular Ecoboost engine delivers 125PS (123 horses in old money) and 125 torques, which endows it with the same performance as 1.6 naturally aspirated engine, yet with a higher MPG, reduced C02 and reduced VED. With an “on the road” price of £19,195 it’s £1k cheaper than the 1.6 non-turbo version. Suddenly the picture becomes clearer as to why this type of engine is the future.
What’s it like to drive?
We tested the Mk3 Focus Zetec-S at Millbrook Proving Ground in Bedford, which features a variety of different roads, with steep climbs, camber changes, hard braking zones and finally a quick run up to 100mph on the banked circuit. Our Focus Mk3 Zetec-S was fitted with optional 18″ alloys (£400 extra) shod with Michelin 235/40 tyres, which certainly helped endow the car with great handling. Upon first impressions, it doesn’t quite have the nose-friendly turn-in of the original Mk1, but once you get into your stride through the undulating turns of the infamous “Hill Route”, and you’ve become accustomed to the power delivery of the little 3-cylinder engine, it’s a remarkably adept car, easily soaking up the bumps and cambers without becoming distressed, whilst on the fast, steep downhill sections the brakes pull you up sharply without a hint of drama, it’s all very controlled and unfussy. The gutsy little engine at first sounds like it’s got a frog in it’s throat but you quickly come to love the excited chatter coming up front, with the power delivery in a car of this size being somewhat at odds with the capacity. It has plenty of pull on the hills, and in the instances where it was running out of puff, the 6-speed box was quick and slick, enabling you to keep it on the boil and within that ever so important power band delivery. Maximum engine torque is delivered between 1400 and 4500 rpm though, so you’ve a wide band to play. Once we’d had our fun playing on the hills we ventured out on to the high speed bowl, unfortunately we were limited to 100mph so didn’t have a chance to perform a V-Max, but at the ton it was as expected, steady, no drama and perfectly able to hold a conversation in the cabin, the only intrusion being wind and tyre noise, the engine being remarkably quiet.
Refinement / Interior / Specifications
The Mk3 Focus Zetec-S feels like a well built car. Everything is solid, the doors shut with a satisfying clunk and the interior trim is constructed from high quality materials. Despite our hard testing in the hills and on the high speed circuit, nothing squeaked, wobbled or made any attempt at making a noise. Our test vehicle also came with the latest Ford DAB Satellite Navigation system (£750 option) and DAB Audio system along with full Bluetooth control. Interior space is generous without massively increasing the overall size of the car (unlike the Mondeo Mk4). Controls are within easy reach including the phone controls which are located on the steering wheel, something particularly useful these days. Bootspace is plentiful, with split folding rear seats. Safety features as standard include Electronic Stability Programme (ESP) with Traction Control and Emergency Brake Assist (EBA) and Ford Intelligent Protection System (IPS). Optional packs available are, Driver Assistance, City, Convenience, Family, Apperance and Zetec-S Interior.Running Costs
The running costs is where the benefits of this engine really come to the fore. For a start, the VED for a year is just £0. That’s right, it doesn’t cost a penny in VED due to the 6-speed 1.0 Ecoboost engine emitting just 114 CO2’s, just renew the tax disc online in the normal manner but without having to get the credit card out. Fuel consumption is officially rated at 56.5mpg on the combined cycle. A quick look at the average MPG in the trip computer showed 33mpg, but this was at the beginning of the day, and the few people who had driven it before us weren’t going to be pottering around.
Based solely on the remarkable ability of the 1.0 Ecoboost engine, this car deserves five stars. It can hold it’s own in everyday traffic, despite losing a cylinder, and is cheap to run. It doesn’t feel overwhelmed in a car of this size, whilst the chassis of the Zetec-S doesn’t even break into a sweat. If you’re after a sporty Focus Mk3, which won’t cost a fortune to tax, insure and fuel, then this could be the perfect choice for you. Well worth a test drive.