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By Andy Russell motoring editor
Saturday, November 3, 2012
A 1.0-litre engine in a Ford Focus – you’d better believe it, says motoring editor Andy Russell.
Price: £19,195 (range £16,445 to £20,945)
Engine: 999cc, 125PS, three-cylinder turbo petrol
Performance: 0-62mph 11.3 seconds; top speed 120mph
MPG: Urban 44.8; extra urban 67.3; combined 56.5
Benefit-in-kind tax rate: 13pc
Insurance group: 14E (out of 50)
Warranty: Three years or 60,000 miles
Will it fit in the garage? Length 4,358mm; width (including door mirrors) 2,010mm; height 1,484mm
in these environmentally-conscious times small is beautiful when it comes to cars and engines.
Be that as it may, the prospect of driving Ford’s new Focus 1.0 EcoBoost to Manchester was not one I was relishing – it seemed quite a big car for such a small engine and I feared it would take all the fun out of the fine-driving Focus.
A long journey is a great way to really get to know a car and the further I went the more I liked this effervescent EcoBoost which was just as happy munching motorway miles as it was in the nip and tuck of darting past lorries on roundabouts and letting rip along twisty roads.
Lining up alongside the 1.6 and 2.0 EcoBoost engines, the compact, lightweight three-cylinder 1.0 version – which is small enough to sit on a sheet of A4 paper – is offered in 100 and 125PS guises and is certainly a worthy winner of international engine of the year.
You pay £500 extra for the more powerful version but it’s still £850 less than the 1.6 turbo diesel so it’s an attractive and frugal alternative if you don’t do huge mileage.
With the same output and performance as the normally-aspirated 1.6 petrol engine it replaced , the 125PS EcoBoost’s fuel economy is 20pc better, emissions are lower and it’s a lot more fun.
Combining turbocharging, direct injection and twin variable cam timing, it delivers strong performance but what really surprised me was how flexible it is. Healthy low-down pull with peak torque between 1,400 and 4,500rpm means you don’t need to thrash it to make decent progress – it picks up willingly from 40mph in sixth gear and cruises effortlessly and quietly at motorway speeds and there’s still plenty in reserve should you need it.
While I was regularly seeing 45 to 50mpg running around I expected that to plummet with some fast open-road driving. But the cross-country run to Manchester returned 57mpg with 48mpg driven very hard on the return journey when the little three-cylinder engine showed its sporty top-end eagerness accompanied by a raspy engine note. Impressive indeed.
I hadn’t driven the new Focus since it was launched and soon realised what I had been missing. It’s such a fine car to drive.
The low-speed ride was a little sensitive with the bigger 17in alloy wheels option but smoothed out with speed. Handling is as good as many sports cars with first-class steering.
The cabin has top-notch quality, trim materials and design with its ergonomics as good as its dynamics and lots of rear leg and headroom for tall passengers. The boot is not huge but well shaped and boasts 60/40 split-fold rear seat backs.
The 1.0 EcoBoost, which goes in the new B-Max and C-Max later this year and new Mondeo in 2013, is a cracking little engine and very much the future with down-sizing.
It does everything you ask of it and exceeds all expectations – it’s fun, it’s frugal, it’s the Ford Focus 1.0 EcoBoost. And it’s 1.0 for all.
It’s the end of the road for the paper tax disc as part of a host of changes to bring vehicle excise duty into the modern world of motoring.