Fun handling with solid build quality
The Econetic plays its trump card here, offering better fuel consumption and vehicle excise duty in a very low band for the car's size. This should pay off the longer the car is kept, however the low rolling resistance tyres may cost more to replace, which is essential to maintaining maximum efficiency.
There's little to complain about in the front part of the Focus' cabin. With enough leg, head and elbowroom for most adults, the cabin is a pleasant place to spend time in. There is less space in the rear however, although a decent sized boot accessed via a wide opening tailgate is the pay off, with a split-folding rear seat for extra practicality. Elsewhere in the cabin there are numerous, conveniently positioned storage bins, although they tend to be on the small side.
Revisions to the Focus' fascia have resulted in easer to read dials, more sensibly located minor controls and a general, all-round improvement. The column stalks operate with a greater quality feel while the revised range of audio equipment all boast intuitive layouts – the top-spec touch screen unit is particularly impressive. Ventilation controls are either rotary dials or push button units and neither should pose any problems to users.
The Focus' slightly raised front seating position makes it easy to get comfortable as do the various adjustments available – including both rake and reach for the steering wheel. As such, you never really have to stretch to reach the car's major controls, making the driving experience a relaxed one. Head, leg and elbowroom up front is good, too.
The security equipment on the Econetic extends to remote central locking with deadlocks and an engine immobiliser, but an alarm system is available through the options list.
Twin front and side airbags plus curtain airbags are fitted as standard and ABS and electronic brakeforce distribution is fitted to all cars. Another bonus is standard fitment of ESP to all Focus models, including the Econetic.
The Econetic has much of the appeal of any regular Focus, despite the economy leanings. The lowered suspension reduces roll and, although the economy tyres offer up less grip, it is still a fun car to drive. Refinement also remains good, although the flip side of the firmer suspension is a little less bump absorption. This certainly does not result in an uncomfortable ride.
In Econetic form the Focus is no less useful than the standard car, and it can make a decent fist of being a regular family machine. In terms of overall space it does fall a little behind some rivals, but for a smaller family it should be sufficient.
The Focus does make a sound first car if you don't fancy the confines of a supermini. The Econetic is handily placed at the cheaper end of the range and the reduced road tax and improved fuel economy will help finances in the long run.
The Focus is built to a standard that would impress most buyers, with a solid feeling to the switches and trim that is reassuring. The image of the Focus is arguably a cut above standard Ford fare and the Econetic's smarter exterior is another bonus.
Front and rear seat occupants will have no trouble getting in or out thanks to the car's wide-opening doors. The high seating position also makes access and egress easy. The tailgate is also easy to open, with a large button hidden beneath the lip and a large aperture for easy loading.
The standard radio/CD player delivers a decent performance and, thanks to its big buttons and display, is intuitive and easy to use. The upgrade path includes a number of options including a flashy Sony-branded unit incorporating an in-dash CD changer and a full-blown touch screen sat-nav and combined telephone unit, plus a DVD system complete with extra screens for back seat passengers. Save for the entry-level Focus, there's a handy steering column stalk containing all the basic controls
Most exterior colours look good on the Focus but, predictably, it's the various metallics that give the car a more upmarket ambience. The cabin is noticeably built to a high standard – helped by the various combinations of black and silver to lift the mood, but the striped seat trim may look a little garish to some.
Parking the Focus is a relatively straightforward exercise. Forward visibility is good, even if you can't quite see the end of the bonnet, while the view to the rear is more than adequate. The car's three mirrors help, as does the steering, which is nice and light and requires little effort to turn at low speed. If you need more help, rear parking sensors can be selected from the options list.
Tyre repair kit fitted to Econetic models as standard.
Petrol engine options – 1.4-litre (79bhp); 1.6-litre (99bhp); 1.6-litre Ti-VCT (113bhp); 1.8-litre (123bhp); 2.0-litre (143bhp); 2.5-litre (222bhp). Diesel options – 1.4-litre (79bhp); 1.6-litre (109bhp); 1.8-litre (113bhp); 2.0-litre (109bhp and 136bhp) Transmission options: five-speed manual gearbox, six-speed manual gearbox, five-speed automatic gearbox, six-speed automatic twin-clutch automatic with manual over-ride. Trim levels: Studio, Style, Econetic, Zetec, Titanium, ST.