Focus 1.6 TDCi Titanium X
Added: 30th of April 2015
I bought the Focus as a commuting car to keep costs down after my annual mileage increased from 5,000 to 40,000 miles and after experiencing the fun of my fiancé's Mk.1 1.8 TDCi. The car has been immensely impressive - my primary concern was the running cost and with £30/year vehicle tax, 55+mpg around town, 65mpg regular average and 72mpg+ on a motorway run, I haven't been disappointed. Very well screwed together; and in Titanium trim with the X pack it has nearly as many features as my Range Rover! The stereo is superb and the touchscreen sat-nav is clear and easy to use (shame the mapping DVDs cost so much to update - I can't justify £100 (nearly £200 from Ford!) on new mapping when an AA road map costs £1.99...). Voice control actually works and the Bluetooth hands-free phone integration is reliable and clear. Electric leather heated seats and cruise control make every journey a pleasure - even 300+ mile journeys are no problem. The engine lacks torque at low revs (<1800rpm), but pulls well in the higher range (brisk overtaking means stirring the gears a bit) and it's happy to cruise quietly at all legal speeds. 55-60mph in 5th returns best mpg. All Mk.2 DPF equipped Focii have a fuel additive tank that should be checked and topped up every 37,500 miles, which is a pain of a job, but the filter will clog very quickly if the additive runs out. The Infinium F7995 cerium additive isn't cheap (about £25-£30/litre), but the tank is only 1.5 litres and should last for over 70,000 miles (typically the car will use about 750ml between top ups, but the actual amount depends on your fuel consumption). Make sure the ECU counter is reset each time, which can be done by a sequence of ignition on/off and fuel flap opening/closing; by the dealer; or by using an ELM327 interface with Forscan software (www.forscan.org). The DPF itself will eventually need replacing as it cannot be cleaned. Typically this will be at between 60k-80k miles, depending on how the car has been driven and used. The Ford service schedule recommends replacement every 75k miles. Lots of short, cold, stop-start runs will clog the filter quickly; lots of long, steady, warm runs will mean the filter could last 100k+ miles (don't listen to those who say you should cane it up the motorway to regenerate the DPF, by the way - a 10-15 minute steady run at 50+mph in 4th, or 65+mph in 5th will be far more effective). Filters can be bought for around £350, but fitting is quite in involved job. Dealers will charge well over £1,000 all-in, independents should be around half that. Again, make sure the ECU is reset after being fitted as it tracks when the filter needs replacing. A clogged filter is often the cause of poor fuel consumption as the ECU constantly tries to regenerate it as it adds extra diesel to the combustion cycle to raise the exhaust temperature. Lots of horror stories on the internet about this engine, but the majority of problems seem to be caused by lots of short runs, heavy-footed driving, poor or no servicing (critical to stick to 12,500 mile service interval and use quality, low SAPs oil - frequently garages won't), or ignoring the regenerate warning light (if fitted) until too late. Turbo problems can be caused by carbon build up in the engine - there's not much oil in the sump (about 4 litres) to absorb all the soot between services, so it's important that it is drained and changed regularly at or within the specified interval. The correct procedure specifies the car must be level when it is drained and the filter should always be changed, too (which is also a fiddle to get at as it involves removing the air filter box, so can be overlooked or "forgotten" by garages on the clock). Use a good quality, low SAPS oil and you shouldn't have any problems. My car has done 110,000 miles (60,000 of those with me over the last 18 months) and has never missed a beat, save for regular servicing and a failed alternator regulator. Would I buy another? For the same requirements, absolutely, but I'm so pleased with this one that I plan to keep it until it falls apart. Would I recommend others to buy one? Well, it depends on your needs. Any DPF equipped diesel car, including the newer ones, needs regular decent runs to keep the filter healthy, so if you're looking for a town runabout that's never going to do more than 10 mile trips, then you'll probably want a petrol; electric; or petrol-hybrid car. If you do a regular bit of fast A road or motorway driving, then you won't go far wrong with one of these, especially in the higher specs.