Are petrol cars fated to become just a chapter in the complete history of the motor car? With diesel engined cars producing astonishing MPG figures, the growing uptake in hybrid cars and the cost of fuel the answer to that would appear apparent. Audi are even looking into the validity of a high performance diesel supercar, a sector that is currently exclusive to petrol power. However, petrol cars still have a very strong following from those who enjoy the benefits of a high revving engine and a generally more engaging drive. The current trend for petrol cars is a one of downsizing and turbo charging. For example, Mercedes-Benz have replaced their 6.2 litre motor with a 5.5 litre turbocharged one. It enables manufacturers to meet emissions standards, increase fuel economy and meet the performance demands of the customer. Ford have taken this to the extreme with their new 1.0 litre Focus.
A 1.0 litre engine in a car as big as a Ford Focus I hear you cry? Factor into the equation that our test car was the even larger estate variant and the tiny little engine seems even more out of place. Yet, it isn’t… This engine that is literally the size of an A4 sheet of paper is nothing short of a technological masterpiece. Despite its low displacement, this three cylinder with the aid of a turbo produces 94BHP, a figure the trumps the least powerful 1.6 litre in the range. Surly a 1.0 litre car could never be a viable alternative to a 1600cc engine, could it?
First let us view the car as a whole. The Ford Focus is one of the UK’s biggest selling hatchbacks and offers practicality and an involving drive to the masses. Inside the cabin is well sculpted with a very modern console and curved dashboard. The new Focus, regardless of what engine you chose, is an ergonomic triumph with seating being perfectly adjustable, driver controls are all within arms reach and everything having a logical positioning. Visibility is most commendable all around and its 5 star Euro NCAP rating provides reassurance to families looking for high safety ratings. Something else that will appeal to Mums and Dads is the vast amount of space on offer in the boot. Huge shopping trips, lawnmowers, dogs and maybe even a small cow will fit into the back of this estate with ease. Our Zetec test car even came with a DAB radio which makes for crystal clear listening.
This car has to be driven to be believed! The first thing that hits you when you start it up just how quite it is. It is near silent and often led many of my passengers to believe the engine wasn’t running at all. This lack of noise also makes for a seamless start/stop system that often goes unnoticed when in operation. Considering its odd number of cylinders you would expect some sort of vibration from the engine, but that is as absent as its noise. Driving around town the steering is well weighted and the ride is more than capable of dealing with the rough and tumble that British roads provide. Not once did I complain that it was sluggish out of junctions and in truth had you told me that this was the 1.6 litre car I would have believed you. On motorways it can hold its own too as the Focus surged past slower traffic with ease. At these higher speeds, even with a 5 speed gearbox, the engine is only doing around 3,000RPM. There is a 6 speed option if you really want it but from my experience the 5 is more than capable. Fuel economy on our tests in multiple environments produced an average of 47MPG. The smaller engine also makes this Focus even more agile through the corners thanks to the lack of weight. It has always been an involving car to drive, but this engine really does give it a new lease of life.
Honestly, these words do not do the engine justice and the only real way you are going to understand just how good this car can be is if you drive one yourself. I had read good things about the 1.0 litre Focus before this road test, but seeing is believing and you had better believe that Ford have hit the nail directly on its head with this car.