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Alf McQueef

facelift Focus 1.6tdi estate

I was pleased, on arrival at Munich airport, to have this car - the one I had tried to book, but you know how it is with hire companies. It was interesting to me because this is more the sort of thing, in hatch or estate form, that I see as a suitable Mrs ALF car, so it was an interesting comparison with our C Max. It was also nice to feel instantly at home in it.

The car was the facelift model, with 16" wheels and I'm guessing the model below the Titanium as it had good kit levels but not the nice black stuff and better buttons the Ti models have, 7,000 km on the clock, and immaculate. I didn't play with any of the phone/audio stuff, but the new big screen looks good and fits into the dash well. It is perhaps a tad matte in appearance for me.

The driving positon and seats are excellent. I far prefer the cocooned Focus position to the slightly "sitting on top of it" feeling in the C Max (which it is better than many MPV's in that regard, and I don't adjust Mrs ALF's quite high seating position so I could get lower). I was not a fan of the rear view from inside - I don't mind bigger, airier cars as estates but this felt a bit claustrophobic, I think I'd have the hatch. I also particularly disliked the privacy glass, viewed from the inside or the outside, this was the first car I have driven with it. Nasty. It made the long rear space feel particularly dark and miserable.

Quality was great - the Focus has come such a long way from our reliable, fun to drive, but noisy, rusting and poorly trimmed Mk1 Ghia. Its not trying to be a premium segment car - but it is so refined, comfortable, and well equipped, the advantage of the premium cars is more mental than anything else. Onto the motorway and there seemed to be less wind noise than in the C Max (which is itself nicely refined, just a bit noisier than the BMW or Jaguar, this Focus was much the same). I did not hammer the handling at all - I was never in it alone - but it steered, rode, and cornered so well, as Fords tend to, from what I could tell.

The engine seemed a revelation, I was wondering if we had done the wrong thing in getting the petrol C Max, it is so lusty around the 2-2500 rpm mark where you are cruising at motorway speeds, and seemed so refined used in this way, I was seriously impressed - the best diesel I have used. Used very sensibly for 50-60mph A road cruising, and 70-80 motorway use, pretty much all on long trips, it returned just over 50mpg for the 850km I drove it, which if my maths is working and I have correctly remembered what refuelling cost, was about 8p per mile - and that was refuelling at the airport at higher prices than we had seen elsewhere. Diesel is pretty cheap over there at current exchange rates. It is hard to be sure, as Mrs ALF wants the trip computer left on one long trip, but I think our petrol C Max would be low 40's for the same use, at best - probably about 40 mpg.

However.... as usual, get away from the motorway, especially to low speed stuff or where you need to shift gear a lot, and the dieselness becomes clear in the engine note, the vibration, and especially the turbo lag and utter lack of anything but a massive shuddering if you let the revs drop too low. The engine in our C Max is particulaly impressive in pulling from as low as 1000 rpm with exceptional smoothness and decent urge. Shifting up when the dash suggested, or when caught out by traffic or a sharper than expected turn, the diesel can chug badly and need an urgent gear shift. Then there is quite bad lag, a surge of power, and you are back in that rev range where it feels so good and has a lot of instant power. It is a good diesel unit - but its still a 4 pot diesel, for sure. A great motorway cruising device, plenty of torque on tap for overtaking, but not likely to please a purist - I'd like to try one with a good auto box as I think that would make things better.

Overall an impressive car - in hatch form with the petrol turbo 1.6 engine, or in ST spec, it would be a lovely car. Getting back into our C Max it felt a little higher-rent for the Ti trim, and much higher/lighter/airier - it is definitely the better shout as a family car for the amount of space and storage, plus the higher seats and better visibility, so Mrs ALF chose well there. The engine also seemed incredibly quiet and smooth in our car after all those diesel miles, especially in the car park - just a very different animal to a diesel.

But the Focus remains a great drive and this is yet another Ford I have driven that just felt so innately "right".

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Chris M Wanted a V-10

I thought that the face-lifted models have a 1.5 diesel, not the 1.6TDCI ?
Alf McQueef

I'm just assuming it was the 1.6 - you are probably right! Is it a new lump then?

And yes I meant to put this in the "test driven" section if a mod can move it!!!
Frank Bullitt

Chris M Wanted a V-10 wrote:
I thought that the face-lifted models have a 1.5 diesel, not the 1.6TDCI ?


It was introduced with the 1.6TDCi and has only recently gained the 1.5TDCi

I quite like the facelifted Focus, one of the most successful out there - the engine is the same as our DS4's and perhaps the installation is more successful in our car but it never becomes uncouth or rattly.

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