Ford in forward gear

By anyone’s reckoning, Ford is a giant in the car world. Its Ford Focus family hatchback is the best-selling car in the world, while the nippy little Ford Fiesta is Britain’s most popular set of wheels. So it should come as no surprise that Ford’s unveiling of revamped versions of both models has made a big splash, both globally and in the UK. So let’s take a closer look at the new-style Ford Focus and Ford Fiesta…

Sharpening the Focus

More than 12 million Ford Focuses (Focussi?) have been sold worldwide since the model replaced the Ford Escort in the late 1990s. And a massive 6.9 million of those sales have been in Europe. However, Ford faces constant challenges from other manufacturers, with models such as the Peugeot 308 and the Skoda Octavia vying for market share. Hence, the enhanced Ford Focus with a new grille that gives the car a more sophisticated, almost Aston Martin-like air, a streamlined interior – and a raft of new technologies designed to keep the Focus at the top of the sales tree. These include:
  • Perpendicular Parking, which builds on the current Active Park Assist (a hands-free reverse parking system) to allow the car to park itself, hands free, side-by-side with other cars
  • Cross Traffic Alerts that warn drivers reversing out of a parking space of oncoming traffic
  • Park-Out Assist for when you’re nosing out of a parking spot.
Ford has also upgraded its Active City Stop collision avoidance system to work at speeds of up to 31mph, and is adding Distance Alert to its Adaptive Cruise Control system, enabling the driver to set a preferred distance from the car in front. Other features include the new SYNC 2 in-car connectivity system with an 8-inch touchscreen and a revised voice control system that means motorists can give the car commands such as “play” a song by a chosen artist or “go” to a particular location. You can even bring up a list of restaurants in the local area just by saying “I’m hungry”! Just don’t go expecting more space, though – the new Focus is no bigger than the old one. There are some exciting new engine choices, though. These include the 1.5-litre EcoBoost petrol engine, the 1.5-litre TDCi engine and the low emission, highly economical 1.0-litre EcoBoost petrol engine, as well as a 1.6-litre petrol and a 1.6 or 2.0-litre diesel. The new Focus, which will go on sale later this year, should also remain competitively priced. Market watchers expect the price range to stay in the current £14,000 to £33,000 range, depending on size and spec.

Finessing the Fiesta

Small car enthusiasts love the Ford Fiesta because it is both stylish and a pleasure to drive. According to What Car, no less, it “rides comfortably and handles with great panache”. Anyone watching the pennies is also likely to be attracted by the large discounts available on new Fiestas, not to mention the supermini’s economical performance and generally low CO2 emissions (which translate into a tiny vehicle tax bill). What’s more, the Fiesta now looks set to get even better, with the introduction of a twin-clutch automatic gearbox – the Powershift – which is already available in a number of other Ford models, including the Focus and the Kuga. You will have to pay more to get it (say around £1,250), but reviewers who have tried it say that it makes the Fiesta snappier and more responsive. Despite the rather firm ride, the new Fiesta also scores points for agility, steering and body control. On the downside, however, rear legroom is on the tight side for taller people, although there is a decent boot. The new Ford Fiesta 1.0T 100 Ecoboost Powershift is only available in Zetec trim and above, meaning it costs at least £15,195 before discounts – which is less than an similar spec Renault Clio, but more than the VW Polo 1.4 85 DSG, for example. For that outlay, however, you do get a centre console, air-con, a Quickclear heated windscreen, front foglights, a trip computer and a leather-trimmed steering wheel and handbrake.
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