PH Blog: It's time to focus on the triple


Normally, eco-friendly progress in the world of motoring tends to come at the expense of those things that make cars fun for the likes of your average PHer. Decent handling, a characterful powertrain, in general the sort of stuff that makes a car more than mere transport.

Doesn't look like the most exciting car...
Doesn't look like the most exciting car...
Think Prius, Honda Insight, or any number of hair-shirt diesels on rock-hard tyres and with power deliveries full of holes and you'll see what I mean. Even the engineer's wet dream that is the Chevrolet volt/Vauxhall Ampera range-extender isn't going to tug at the heart strings of the driving enthusiast.

But I have just driven the car that might well be the saviour of interesting cars. It is, of all things, a Ford Focus with a 1.0-litre three-cylinder engine.

Yes, I know it sounds weird, maybe even a bit wrong. But we who tap away at keyboards and talk about cars for a living have been banging on for ages now about how downsized turbocharged motors are the future of mainstream internal combustion-engined cars for years now, and yet the products have never quite lived up to our expectations of them. They've always over-promised and under-delivered, with too much in the way of fuel consumption and not enough in the way of actual grunt.

...but the tech behind it is a big deal
...but the tech behind it is a big deal
Until now.

I don't know what kind of voodoo the Ford folks at Dunton and Dagenham (and the various other Brit technology partners involved in the project) have invoked to create this machine, but it's clearly strong stuff. Because this really, genuinely, honestly, is a car with the economy of 1.0-litre engine (because it is one), and the power of a naturally aspirated 1.6.

Except it's better than that. I only had the opportunity to test the 100hp version - there's a 125hp version too - but even in its most lowly guise it feels a world away from the 1.6-litre Focuses I remember driving in the past. Mid-spec petrol-engined C segment cars that have become asthmatic, their bodies too bloated for their powerplants to cope. The 1.0-litre Ecoboost triple wipes that away in a stroke.

Tiny block fits on a sheet of A4 paper
Tiny block fits on a sheet of A4 paper
It feels strong all the way through the rev range, it's impressively quiet (you can hear the three-cylinder thrum and the whoosh-swish of the turbo with the window open, but window-up it's near-inaudible) and it returns genuinely decent economy - 58.9mpg on the combined cycle.

Buyers seem to be falling for it, too; it accounted for 17 per cent of total Focus sales in April, and Ford people are quietly whispering that it could take up to 25 per cent of the family car's sales.

Most important, though, is that it makes the Focus fun again - the trick that made the first-generation car such a charmer. I'd love to try the 125hp version in a Fiesta. It would most likely be a proper hoot.

Riggers

P.H. O'meter

Join the PH rating wars with your marks out of 10 for the article (Your ratings will be shown in your profile if you have one!)

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
  • 10
Rate this article

Comments (105) Join the discussion on the forum

  • Stitch 05 Jul 2012

    So Riggers, did you achieve 59mpg on your test, or did you just run it round the block and then thumb through the press pack to get that figure?


  • Riggers 05 Jul 2012

    Stitch said:
    So Riggers, did you achieve 59mpg on your test, or did you just run it round the block and then thumb through the press pack to get that figure?
    Sadly, I only had about half an hour with the car. and I was too busy enjoying driving it to do a 'proper' economy run.

    But the combined cycle, as in the official EU figure, although admittedly not a real-world figure, is still a good yardstick for comparing with other cars, because it is a genuine like-for-like comparison. So for example the 105hp 1.6 Focus returns 47.9mpg on the combined cycle.

    I'm sure that in everyday mixed driving you'd actually get somewhere in the mid-to-high 40s, but a 1.6 would be more like high 30s. Also - and this is really my main point - you'll enjoy yourself more in the 1.0-litre car.

  • GreatCornholio 05 Jul 2012

    I really like the idea of these downsized engines, less weight and more economy for no losses in performance! The Fiesta with the 125bhp would be great fun, EPIC WINthumbup

  • MrBurt 05 Jul 2012

    Stitch is spot on. We need real world MPG figures and drive reports before we consider this to be a great step forward. I have been reading some poor MPG reports for the Fiat twin air lately and that was viewed as a game changer went it first came out. I watch with interest as the wife's mini is due to be changed, but I will be sticking with diesel for now.

  • Riggers 05 Jul 2012

    MrBurt said:
    Stitch is spot on. We need real world MPG figures and drive reports before we consider this to be a great step forward. I have been reading some poor MPG reports for the Fiat twin air lately and that was viewed as a game changer went it first came out. I watch with interest as the wife's mini is due to be changed, but I will be sticking with diesel for now.
    Fair enough. But that's not really my point - my point is that, whether it actually achieves anything like the MPG figs claimed, it's still fun - and fun that claims to be green. I think, as car enthusiasts, we should be applauding that.

View all comments in the forums Make a comment