Diesel could also be going via a tricky time, nevertheless it’s nonetheless a good selection for individuals who rack up loads of miles. And the brand new Ford Focus EcoBlue is designed to supply that choice to household automobile clients, rivaling all the things from the Volkswagen Golf TDI to the Kia Ceed CRDi.
EcoBlue will likely be a brand new title to many; it’s Ford’s try and piggy-back the recognition of the EcoBoost small petrol engines, which have a status for being environment friendly, sturdy performers. Within the Focus’s case EcoBlue means a 1.5-litre four-cylinder diesel, and it’s being provided in a few states of tune.
There’s a 94bhp (95PS) model with 300Nm of torque and CO2 emissions as little as 91g/km, after which there’s the 118bhp (120PS) version we’re testing right here, which has the identical torque determine and emits as little as 94g/km of CO2. The Focus vary additionally features a 2.zero diesel, by the way; it has 148bhp (150PS) and 370Nm, and emits from 114g/km of CO2, relying on wheel measurement.
There’s one other issue that we have now to think about right here, although – and that’s transmission. As a result of the brand new Focus is the primary Ford to be provided with a brand new eight-speed torque-converter automated gearbox – a substitute for the Mk3 Focus’s unloved dual-clutch PowerShift set-up. The unit can be provided on the bigger diesel, plus the 123bhp 1.zero and 148bhp 1.5 petrols.
So whilst you can have your Focus diesel with a six-speed handbook, we’re testing the eight-speed auto right here – thereby sampling two of the freshest parts within the new bundle.
There’s no mistaking the very fact you’re in an auto once you climb inside – as a result of there’s not even a stubby auto gear selector instead of the common six-speed stick. As an alternative you get a slim rotary dial positioned on the base of the centre console. It could not rise majestically into use because the automobile fires up – because it does in Jaguar’s related configuration – nevertheless it does unlock a little bit more room between the entrance seats. And it’s a doddle to make use of, too.
You’re not more likely to mistake the diesel for a petroleum once you press the starter button, both, as a result of the preliminary indicators are that it’s a little bit of a grumbler. There’s no intrusive judder to talk of, however it might be an excessive amount of to say that the EcoBlue fires up with the smoothness of a petroleum automobile. Rivals do a greater job of disguising your alternative of gas sort.
Nonetheless, as you draw back, issues enhance. The EcoBlue’s manners enhance because it warms up, and it has sufficient energy and torque to really feel solely snug in a car of the Focus’s measurement and weight. There’s shove from lower than 2,000rpm, in truth, and whilst you can rev the engine out to four,500rpm if you happen to so need, you actually gained’t must go there in regular driving.
The brand new Focus’s dealing with has already impressed us tremendously in petrol editions and the excellent news is that the 1.5 diesel (which will get the easier twist-beam rear suspension as a substitute of a multi-link set-up) may be very a lot lower from the identical fabric. There’s a little bit extra weight over the nostril, but when the automobile is any much less aware of inputs – or any extra reluctant to level its nostril in the direction of the within of a nook – it’s by the smallest of margins.
Urgent the ‘M’ button in the course of the gear selector permits you to use the steering wheel-mounted paddles to regulate the automobile’s shifts. You can also make speedy progress, in truth, as a result of the diesel’s further low-down torque permits you to carry loads of velocity via corners and rapidly regain it if you happen to do lose momentum.
The gearbox isn’t flawless; it’s vulnerable to the occasional clumsy shift, and regardless of Ford’s claims about its skill to adapt to each street gradients and the driving force’s character, it could actually nonetheless go away you tantalisingly in need of the engine’s sweeter rev vary. Our impression, after a number of hours of driving on the town, motorway and on difficult B-roads, is that the seven-speed DSG – as seen in VWs, SEATs, Skodas and Audis – continues to be ever so barely crisper.
However the incremental positive factors over the previous PowerShift is appreciable; the mix of the EcoBlue engine and the auto field permits you to harness the Focus’s wonderful journey high quality to make it a serene, snug cruiser. You would fairly fortunately twist the shift controller to D, drive 600 miles after which get out of the automobile with out giving the journey you’ve simply accomplished an excessive amount of thought. That will be a telling assertion for a lot of govt saloons, not to mention a humble household hatchback.
The remainder of the bundle has the identical core strengths as you’ll discover elsewhere within the new Focus vary. The rear cabin lodging is true up there with one of the best in school, with room for a few six-footers and no transmission tunnel to harass the third occupant within the again seats. The boot is greater than earlier than, too. At 375 litres it’s a smidgen off the capability of the Golf – and it has a little bit of a lip to carry heavy objects over – nevertheless it appears greater than sufficient for many makes use of.
High quality places the Focus within the combine with the category leaders, however on this space, it could actually’t fairly land a knockout punch on the Golf. However there’s loads of security package, as normal gear and on the choices checklist, and Ford’s SYNC three infotainment system is a stable companion in both of the 2 display sizes provided.
One closing phrase on the selection of gearbox: the auto carries a worth premium over the six-speed handbook of round £1,400 – and maybe extra importantly, it additionally hikes the EcoBlue’s CO2 emissions up from 94g/km to 111g/km – so it’ll value decrease and higher-rate BIK tax payers an additional £21 and £41 per thirty days respectively.
Ford already seems to be enjoying hardball on month-to-month figures for retail clients, although. Stick down a 10 per cent deposit on the automobile we’ve examined right here and also you’ll pay round £375 a month on a three-year, 36,000-mile deal. The admittedly extra highly effective Golf GT TDI 150 auto will set you again about £40 per thirty days extra on related phrases.