The Ford Focus has built a formidable reputation for itself over the years. Images of the Focus plowing through various rally circuits are constantly seen in the mass media. The Focus is no pushover either, winning consecutive manufacturer’s title in the World Rally Championships in 2006 & 2007. Malaysians first got the taste of what the Focus can offer when the model was first launched here in 2005. The current model is now the 3rd facelift.
Presently there are 4 variants of the Focus that is available in Malaysia, all of which are imported from the Philippines as complete built-up units (CBU), namely the Focus Ghia (4 Door), Focus Sport (5 Door), Focus Sport TDCi (5 Door) and the Focus Ghia TDCi (4 Door) – a sedan which is also the sampled model. The latter two models are diesel powered cars.
Diesel powered sedans are still a rarity in Malaysia possibly due to the undeserved perception of diesel being dirty, smoky and noisy. However, modern diesel engines are a different class altogether. In Malaysia diesel powered vehicles are usually limited to commercial vehicles, sport utility vehicles, pick up trucks and a smattering of premium sedan offerings. Hence, it is encouraging to see Ford taking on a road less traveled by introducing the two diesel powered Focus variants into this segment.
The car portrays Ford’s kinetic design cues albeit in more subtle ways if compared with the other Ford models. At the front, all the Focus variants are virtually indistinguishable with a prominent large lower air intake grill and swept back headlamps. At the rear, the sedan conveys a more business-like look compared to the sporty hatchback.
Standard features are quite generous as the car comes with dual electronic automatic temperature control with rear air-conditioning vents, armrests at the front and rear, adjustable leather wrapped steering wheel, audio controls mounted on steering column and passive anti theft alarm system with immobilizer.
There is strong emphasis on safety as the brochure highlighted the car achieving a 5 star NCAP Crash Rating. Notable safety features include airbags for driver and front passenger, Antilock Braking System (ABS), Electronic Brake Force Distribution (EBD), Emergency Brake Assist (EBA), Traction Control System (TCS) and Electronic Stability Program (ESP).
Ghia trim levels ensured that fit and finishing of its interior are close to the levels of the Ford Mondeo. The materials used for the two toned dashboard appears to be of good quality. The only exception is the artificial wood paneling which runs from the centre console right down to the handbrake section. Having a glossy rather than matt finish would have added a bit more sophistication to the interior.
The allergy tested leather seats are firm comfortable with provisions for electronic adjustments (front/back and backrest) for both the driver and front seat passenger. An extra feature which is uncommon these days is a separate manual lever at the side of each front seat for additional lumbar support. Headrests at the rear are adjustable for taller passengers. Legroom is generally adequate for driver and passengers.
Steering is a mix of electro-hydraulic power assist. The rim size is of sufficient thickness to ensure a good grip. The electro-hydraulic power steering offers a good balance of feedback and lightness for the driver and is easy to steer. Just behind the steering wheel are audio controls mounted on the left side of the steering column. Control buttons are located at the back of the stalk to increase/decrease the volume and search forwards/backwards radio signals/CD tracks.
The highlight of the sampled car is its Biodiesel compatible powerplant, ie the in-line 4 cylinder 2.0 Duratorq Turbo Diesel with Common Rail Direct Injection (TDCi). Modern diesel engines are noted for their high low end torque and the Duratorq is no exception pumping out a hefty max torque of 320 Nm @ 2,000 rpm. Max power is at 134 PS @ 4,000 rpm and the car cruise 110km/h at slightly above 2,000 rpm.
I had an amusing time trying to locate the lever to unlock the bonnet. I spent a good 10 minutes searching at the usual places before giving up. A quick search on the internet finally yielded the answer. The ‘keyhole’ to unlock the bonnet is actually located in front of the car hidden in that famous blue oval logo.
Crank the engine and it comes to life with the familiar diesel clatter audible during the first few minutes as the car warms up. Although the diesel clatter is prominent I have head louder and would consider the noise level to be acceptable for a diesel car in this segment. Internally, the cabin is quite well insulated from external noises.
Working hand in hand with the Duratorq engine is the drivetrain comprising the Getrag Powershift 6 Speed Dual Clutch Automatic Transmission. There is a provision for manual mode shifts, and this is done by pushing the entire gear lever to the right whilst at “D”. Pushing upwards will downshift while pushing downwards will upshift.
Throughout the test drive, the engine and transmission worked seamlessly to deliver plentiful amounts of torque even at lower engine speeds. I did not detect any turbo lag at slower speeds especially during town drives and the pick up was relatively instantaneous even with moderate levels of inputs on the accelerator. The dual clutch transmission was responsive providing quick gearchanges. Hence, there is not much advantage to engage the manual mode feature unless you wish to lock in at the sixth gear when you are cruising to improve fuel consumption.
One aspect which Ford can look into for improvement is the relatively ‘industrial’ sounding exhaust note, especially when you floor the accelerator. Perhaps Ford can consider modifying the mufflers for the next facelift to emit a more muscular tone that will befit a more sporty image.
Fuel consumption was a bit higher than expected for a diesel powered car. Total mileage was about 5,300km and by the time the car was returned it had covered a distance of about 360km during the entire test drive with a mix of mostly town/highway/trunk road runs. The best reading from the on board computer was around 8.9 litres per 100 km. This is slightly better than comparable petrol based engines of similar displacement.
Wheels are 5 spoke individual ‘Y’ shaped 16 inch alloys which appears to be a signature Ford design. This same design is also standard on the Ford Mondeo. Tyres are 16 inch Goodyear Eagles (205/55 R16) which performed adequately although the front set appeared quite worn from numerous test drives.
Within the first few hours of driving the car I noticed an unusual thump on the left wheel as I drove past a standard yellow striped hump on the road. I initially thought it was the shocks as I relayed my assumption to the dealer. Towards the end of the 3rd day tyre pressure on the affected wheel dropped significantly although visually it looked okay the previous day. Perhaps an alloy wheel issue? It was not until the day when I returned the car that the dealer correctly pointed out a nail puncture on the said wheel which I had missed.
Notwithstanding issues on the front left wheel, the ride quality throughout the entire test drive was quite good. In fact, comfort levels are high and ride quality is quite close to the Ford Mondeo. Noise, vibration and harshness were at acceptable levels even at higher speed cruises and if this was a petrol car, the ride would have been more silent. Suspensions are Macpherson Struts at the front and Ford’s own Control Blade Independent Rear Suspension at the rear. There is some body roll if turns are taken at higher speeds.
The built-in radio and 6 CD Changer with 6 speakers performed adequately although I had some trouble trying to load a CD into the indash CD player. Sound quality from both radio and CD were within expectations. Radio reception is generally good with some interference heard when signals are weaker.
Interior lights are plentiful at the front. Apart from individual reading lights, each vanity mirror houses its own individual side light which helps illuminate the front to a respectable level of brightness at night. One added feature on this car which is common to higher end cars is the auto headlamps function which will automatically activate the halogen headlamps once external surroundings reach the required level of darkness.
Storage space is quite generous on the Focus Ghia TDCi with 526 litres of boot capacity compared to the Focus Sport TDCi which is only able to offer a boot capacity of 350 litres. There is provision for a 60:40 split fold down of the rear seats if additional boot space is required.
The Ford Focus Ghia TDCi showcases Ford’s strength in ride quality and powertrain technology. Modern diesel engines such as the Ford Duratorq are able to provide better mileage, cleaner emissions and better torque. Having diesel powered cars in this segment enables Ford to differentiate itself from other competitors, and at the same time highlight the benefits of diesel as an alternative fuel choice.
Test vehicle courtesy of Sime Darby Auto ConneXion Sdn Bhd
|Full Tank:||53litres @ RM96 (Diesel Euro 2M)|
|Standard Service:||RM489 lube service @ 10,000 km intervals|
|Warranty:||3 Years or 100,000km whichever is earlier|
These are estimated costs applicable to Malaysia only which are subject to change without notice. Insurance is based on initial premium paid upon purchase and the sum insured. Road Tax is for private registration in Peninsular Malaysia. Standard/scheduled service excludes additional or specific service/repairs requested. Please reconfirm these terms and costs with an authorized Ford dealer.
|Engine:||4-cylinder Duratorq Turbo Diesel|
|Max Output:||134PS / 4,000 rpm|
|Max Torque:||320Nm / 2,000 rpm|
Source: Ford Brochure
Note: Please reconfirm the above specifications with an authorized Ford dealer
Click on these to sample sounds from the car!