Ford Focus Econetic review

Fun handling with solid build quality

September 2008

picture of car from the front picture of car from the rear picture of car interior picture of car detail

Overall rating

4 out of 5 stars


  • Economy is impressive and easy to attain
  • Diesel is torquey and refined
  • Handling is still a lot of fun
  • Solid build quality


  • Single Econetic model somewhat lacking in standard equipment
  • Sixth gear would offer better cruising refinement
  • Interior is well built but uninspiring
  • No three-door option
The Ford Focus is undeniably a mainstay of the UK motoring landscape, staying at or near the top of the sales charts since its introduction in 1998. The second generation version has followed suit and now a new addition to the range is an Econetic version, bringing increased fuel economy and reduced emissions thanks to improvements in efficiency.

With increasing pressure on manufacturers to produce more efficient vehicles, it is no surprise that Ford has introduced the Econetic range, and most importantly on its biggest selling car. The Focus Econetic comes as a separate trim in the Focus range, based on the Style version which is second in the range hierarchy.

Mechanically the Econetic is based on the 1.6-litre Duratorq diesel models, with or without a diesel particulate filter, but there are no physical changes to the engine itself. However, a specially-developed engine oil with a low viscosity is included, while the suspension is lowered by 10mm at the front and 8mm at the rear to improve aerodynamic efficiency. The Focus Econetic also gets 16-inch steel wheels as standard, fitted with low rolling resistance tyres.

A number of exterior changes have also been made to enhance aerodynamics, including a deep front spoiler, a modified engine cover and a rear spoiler. This, combined with the wheel covers and lowered suspension, helps to make the Focus Econetic more slippery than other models in the range.

Elsewhere, the Econetic is identical to other Focus models. Available in three or five-door format, its looks have been improved with the recent facelift and the aerodynamic bodykit gives it a useful visual fillip as well as aiding efficiency. Inside the Econetic has the same equipment as the Style model, although it comes with steel rather than alloy wheels and has a puncture repair kit rather than a space saver spare wheel to save weight.

Our verdict on the Ford Focus Econetic

For a car designed to offer maximum economy, the Focus Econetic requires very few compromises. It looks smart, arguably better than the standard car thanks to the bodykit, and its sprightly diesel engine and slick gearbox are a pleasure to use. It also demonstrates the handling finesse that has always been a Focus trademark, although the more economical tyres do reduced ultimate grip. However, it achieves its goal in being an efficient and economical hatchback with few drawbacks.

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.

Space and practicality

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.

Controls and display

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.

Car security

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.

Car safety

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.

Driver appeal

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.

Family car appeal

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.

First car appeal

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.

Quality and image

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.

Stereo and ICE (In car entertainment)

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

Colours and trim

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.

Spare wheel

Tyre repair kit fitted to Econetic models as standard.

Range information

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.