Ford gets its focus right on the new Ford Focus 1.5 EcoBoost

Truth is often stranger than fiction, and strange as it may seem, the engine fitted to Ford’s new Focus 1.5 is more powerful than the 2 litre powertrain it replaces. And that’s not all that’s new in the new Ford Focus 1.5 EcoBoost Automatic that I drove around the Peninsula a while ago.

Brian Joss – The updated SyncR3 infotainment system with embedded navigation will gladden any geek’s heart while those who like having all the mod cons at their fingertips, will be happy with the Driver Assistance Pack (DAP) which is available on four and five-door Trend models. For those who like to let the sun shine in, the hatch in Trend spec is equipped with a factory fitted sun roof, that comes with the Trend styling pack. Which means you can give your new Focus a personal touch so you can be the focus of attention.

The new Ford Focus 1.5 EcoBoost: stylish. Picture: Quickpic

You don’t have to be a rocket scientist or a “Brainiac” to operate Ford’s pioneering SyncR3 infotainment. You could probably operate it blindfolded.

In fact, when you want to change the radio station or switch to SatNav, you hardly have to take your eyes off the road. Except when you type in your destination, then you stop. The SyncR3 provides advanced turn-by-turn navigation with an elevated 3D map view, enhanced full colour graphics and points of interest (POI) that can be selected with voice commands.

Destinations can be entered through the simple one-box search by typing the address, POI category, intersection, city, post code or GPS coordinates. The search function is predictive, with results appearing as the information is typed, Ford said.

And it works. Buyers will get free annual map updates for five years. In addition, text and voice guidance are available in Afrikaans, Arabic, English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish and Zulu: take your pick.

According to Ford, SyncR3 is faster, has a brighter eight-inch colour touch screen with clearer icons and convenient multi-touch gestures (such as swipe, slide, scroll and pinch-to-zoom), plus voice recognition that uses simple, real-world voice commands. Once licences become available for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto they will be rolled out in Africa, including South Africa, so you will be able to connect your smartphone to your Ford Focus.

Ok, so the nice-to-haves may dent your wallet a bit :add on R19 884 for the Trend styling pack and R17 089 for the Trend DAP.

With the introduction of the new Ford Focus in the C-Segment of the market there are now 19 derivatives to choose from including the test car, the turbocharged Ford Focus 1.5 EcoBoost with a six-speed automatic transmission, which is as smooth as a baby’s bum; there’s no hunting or turbo lag  that I could detect, anyway.

The new look Focus has a quality feel. Inside, the cabin is clean and neat and the SyncR3 infotainment centre has been sited in the centre of the facia. The multifunction steering wheel has also been redesigned: the cruise control and Bluetooth features are no longer in the “Noddy” ears as it was in the third generation Focus. It’s also an attractive car with a touch of the iconic Aston Martin which you can see in the grille. The new headlights also help to give it a sleeker appearance.

Often less is more and so it is with the Trend, the flagship of the range with a six-speed automatic.

The 1.5 EcoBoost has a lot of get up and go. It puts out 132kW and 240 N.m of torque and replaces the 2 litre normally aspirated engine which delivered

125 kW. 

Everything about the Focus seems better than the one I last drove about four years ago.

It has more than enough grunt to overtake, even driving at the legal limit.

It sticks to the road like Velcro and the steering is light and responsive.

The ride is comfortable too and it sucks up the road imperfections with ease.

First impressions can be misleading. At first glance I thought the passengers at the back might feel a little squashed but there were no complaints and the two average sized “back-seat drivers” said they were very comfortable. There is hardly any cabin noise and you can have a halfway decent conversation without having to raise your voice, too much. The boot offers a healthy 316-litres, enough space for holiday luggage or your monthly shopping. 

Products that boast the “blue oval” are known for their handling attributes and the Focus is no exception. It behaved impeccably on our test route which included a few mountain passes, freeway driving, on the open road, and in some of Cape Town’s worst traffic, on the N2, and it wasn’t even peak hour.

The Focus kept its focus and carried on regardless.

With another fuel price looming: up four cents a litre for petrol and 26 cents a litre for diesel, according to the AA, you’ll want to know how thirsty the Focus is. The AA said the landed price of petrol actually dropped by around 18 cents a litre in October, while the landed price of diesel showed a slight increase of five cents. However, the Rand dropped about 22 cents to the US$ which means that all grades will be more expensive in November.

Actually, it’s quite miserly with petrol. The good news is that I recorded figures of just over 7 litres/100km in a town and country cycle. which is excellent.

Ford has got its focus right with the new Ford Focus which carries a price tag of R330 900, but check with your dealer.

The Focus comes with a four-year/120 000km comprehensive warranty,

four-year/80 000km service plan, three-year/unlimited km roadside assistance and five-year/unlimited km corrosion warranty. Service intervals are every 20 000km.

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