A new approach meets fuel economy and offers killer prices but is performance sacrificed? Mohamed Abdel-Razek finds out
In the good old days, when we used to hear the word ‘turbo’, our eyes would widen. We started thinking of performance and speed. However, today when turbo is heard, people usually don’t get very excited, especially when it is used mainly to save the planet.
Motor heads are probably not against saving nature but they won’t let go of their passion for car performance and engine music either. That was the thinking while going to test the new Ford Focus 1.0L Ecoboost, a supposedly family car.
At first, when the test drive was announced by the company, and we heard the car is equipped with a one litre three cylinder engine, we thought it was the Ford Fiesta, but we got knocked right on the head when it was confirmed it is the new Focus Sedan. Not wanting to be prejudged, the Al-Ahram Weekly team went to test the car anyway. From the first glance, the car looked attractive and elegant especially from the front end, thanks to the Aston Martin inspired grill. With the slick front headlights, which runs through the day, the car looked aggressively pretty, but when you go with the lines reaching the rear end, you realise the car is too big for a 1.0L engine, even with a turbo, but after looking into the specs sheet your doubts start to fade after knowing that this engine delivers 123 hp at 6,000rpm and 125 in. ft of torque starting from 3,500rpm, 1.6 litre kind of specs.
We decided it was time to take it for a spin. The car felt well made from the inside. The Americans made a real effort to make you feel you are sitting in a German car. Talking about the interior room, the car is very spacious yet cozy in a way that you won’t feel it’s empty but you will feel you are wearing clothes that fit.
As for the driving experience, we already knew from the specs sheet that the three cylinder 1.0L engine releases its full torque at 3,500rpm, so you don’t expect to feel the torque once you put your right foot down – which is what happened. The acceleration wasn’t that impressive. If you are the kind of driver who likes to drag race other cars after the lights turn green, you won’t be impressed with that kind of acceleration.
At the same time, the six speed automatic gearbox seems to be tuned along with the engine and the electronic gas paddle to make the car as smooth as possible and which does not put much pressure on the engine as well as the gearbox for durability. Handling and traction were two flashing merits on this car which gripped the road even with extreme manoeuvres through the slaloms test, thanks to the small engine in the front that does not make the car noise heavy. Adding to the stability, the braking of the Focus Ecoboost is spectacular at all speeds.
The tested car seemed to be fuelled with octane 92, which dramatically affected performance since it should be fuelled with octane 95. That brings us to a point. This car is equipped with an engine designed to save you money by not consuming lots of fuel, but you will end up paying more money when you start buying the 95 octane over the 92 octane. If you decide to stick to the 92 you always put into your naturally aspirated engine, you won’t get a good performance from the engine; you will even risk blowing it up. No doubt this engine is full of new tech with years of research behind it, but you should ask yourself whether it will adapt with the country and your lifestyle. Will the engine really save you money?
Just make a simple calculation. Naturally aspirated 1.3 and 1.6 four cylinder engines in some new vehicles manage to reach good mileage per gallon numbers and they can get octane 92 without harming the engine. So ask yourself again: With the pricy octane 95, will the Focus beat the naturally aspirated engines in fuel consumption plus the difference in fuel prices? The strongest point here is the car’s price. As car prices are increasing every day the Focus will be one of the least choices for many people with limited budgets in that range of cars. Certainly, Ford has much more powerful engines to offer in the Focus, but due to the rules of taxes and tariffs in Egypt, the price of the car will go up and it won’t be competitive anymore. So keep that in mind.
With its three cylinder 1.0L engine, the Ford Focus is a good choice for someone who does not mind refuelling his car with 95 octane for LE6.25 a litre, at least for now. The car is also very spacious all around for a family of four and is very safe for them as well, thanks to its good handling and braking, and its ability to accelerate fast enough but without risking your life.
So, it would be better if Ford removed the first three letters from the Ecoboost badge on the Focus, and get us a more powerful engine under the bonnet. But that would be economically unrealistic, they would most likely say.