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Ford Focus diesel sedan review

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    On the road, the Focus remains at the top of its class in chassis dynamics.

John Parry road tests and reviews the Ford Focus 2.0-litre Duratorq TDCi diesel.

The case for diesel continues to be less than clear cut, especially if you are looking for a small car. Take Ford's latest diesel Focus sedan. The test car, a 2.0-litre TDCi diesel with six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission in mid-range Trend trim, has a retail price of $30,500, or $3710 more than the 2.0-litre petrol auto Trend. That's a big gap even if you are not on a tight budget, especially considering higher pump prices for diesel. Some of that gap will be recovered on resale, but only about $1000 after four years.

DIESEL ECONOMY

While the diesel is easier on fuel, it is not that much more frugal, with a combined average of 5.5litre/100km compared with 6.6litre/100km in the petrol Trend. But if you have to have a diesel, the Focus should be at the top of the list. It is cheaper than a comparable Volkswagen Golf and more rewarding to drive than a Holden Cruze. And for those with a soft spot for diesel power there is the appeal of the way the engine operates, delivering instant and effortless acceleration when and where it is needed.

ENGINE

Like all turbo diesels, the Focus TDCi delivers its best at low to medium engine speeds, is flexible and tractable around town and composed and relaxed on the open road. It also has lower carbon dioxide emissions. The 2.0-litre Duratorq TDCi diesel engine has been updated to produce 120kW (up 20kW) and 340Nm from 2000 to 3250rpm. (up from 320Nm or 340Nm on an eight second over-boost).

It has a new generation combustion system, higher pressure fuel injection and a small low inertia variable vane turbocharger. These help deliver stronger and more refined punch, at lower engine speeds, rapid and elastic mid-range acceleration and lower fuel use than its predecessor, all helped by smooth and decisive six-speed PowerShift automatic transmission. The engine is commendably quiet on idle and barely discernible from the petrol Trend on the move.

DESIGN

Like the hatch, the latest sedan is longer, stronger, lower, a little heavier and sits on a longer wheelbase. Armed with sophisticated good looks, the sedan is identical to the hatch forward of the rear doors, but has a different rear end with a longer roof and larger rear quarter windows.

The interior layout is attractive and well finished with quality trim. The cockpit-style driving position has deep-set instruments and an array of controls on the steering wheel and central command console that take time to master. Seats are large and well-bolstered with plenty of adjustment and the steering column adjusts for reach and tilt.

The boot is large for its class and the rear seats split fold and the seat cushions flip up to allow the back seats to fold flat.

DRIVING

On the road, the Focus remains at the top of its class in chassis dynamics. It feels taut, solid and agile and is inspiring and rewarding to drive with accurate tactile steering, a firm composed ride and secure and confident handling. It is also very quiet with very little wind and road noise, the 16-inch wheels and tyres on the Trend being quieter, more compliant and with a tighter turning circle than the 18-inch wheels fitted to the top of the range model.

There are three trim levels in the diesel sedan, the Trend, the Sport and the Titanium, all automatic and all the same price as the hatch versions. The Trend comes with six airbags, stability control, a five-star crash rating, alloy wheels, cruise control, rear parking sensors, a single CD audio with voice control, Bluetooth and USB/iPod connection, fog lights, a space saver spare wheel, lumbar adjustment on the driver's seat and a bonus for a diesel, a capless fuel filler. A $300 option pack adds automatic headlights and wipers, auto-dipping mirror, and follow me home lights. Focus sales jumped 30 per cent last year in a total small car market that was up only 0.9 per cent, although not too many of them were diesels.

FORD FOCUS TREND DIESEL SEDAN

Price: from $30,500
Warranty: 3 years/100,000 km
Resale: 58%
Service: 15,000km/12mths
Thirst: 5.5L/100km, diesel; CO2 144g/km
Crash rating: 5 star ANCAP safety rating
Safety equipment: Airbags, ABS, EBD, EBA, traction and stability control
Engine: 4-cyl 2.0-litre Duratorq TDCi, 120kW/340Nm
Transmission: 6-speed PowerShift auto dual-clutch, front-wheel drive
Body: 4-door sedan, 5 seats
Dimensions (mm): 4534 (l), 1823 (w), 1484 (h), 2648 (wb)
Tyres: 16" alloy, 215/55 R16, space saver spare.

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Comments on this story

Displaying 3 of 4 comments

  • Each time I go to the UK I am drawn more and more to the diesels… I just cant get over the price difference in purchase and servicing… I’m sure more people would buy diesel if they were cheaper to service…

    Wendy J of Geelong Posted on 09 March 2014 3:44am
  • Just rented a Focus diesel and drove it from Frankfurt Germany to Koln, Gemany. This one has a 6 speed manual.  It is effortless to drive and easily accelerates to 160 km/hr on the autobaun.  Handling and ride comfort are very good.  Noise is so low I cannot tell it from the gas model. Low end torque is great and it doesn’t peter out at higher speeds.

    Tom Powell of Ohio USA Posted on 23 August 2012 3:14am
  • David totally agree with all you said have about the diesel I tried both versions petrol & diesel and for the life of me why you would buy the petrol is beyond me, the overall driving of the diesel is so superior and the fact it has more torque than the Commodore 3 litre tells you how well it pulls and hills don’t exist either and the economy at 6.6 l/100km around the city and have seen 4.9 on the open road is not to be ignored as well overall more than happy even if the turning circle on the Titanium with 18” rims is terrible

    Laurie Mewburn of Templestowe Vic. Posted on 05 July 2012 1:01pm
  • Hi John
    I have brought the 2012 diesel sport because I needed a interstate cruising car, that can be parked easily in a Brisbane shopping centre and small enough for the wife to drive, but I cannot see how other reviewers ( not you ) keep comparing a diesel with 340 nm of torque to a petrol engine Focus a 1.6 lt 159 nm or 2lt has 202 nm of torque I would not buy the petrol car with so little power. The Diesel has a lot to offer with my average fuel consumption of 6.2 lt per 100 km the car size compares with the 1982 Holden Commodore and the performance figures are close to the
    1982 Holden Commodore
    5.0 Litre V8 Engine
    Power: 126kw at 4200rpm (dual exhaust)
    Torque: 361Nm at 2800rpm (dual exhaust)
    Commodore SL/E 5.0 V8 TriMatic:
    Top Speed 200 km/h
    0-100 km/h: 9.5 seconds
    Standing Quarter Mile (400 metres): 17.2 seconds
    The new V8’s have a lot more power in 2012 but the Diesel Focus holds its own with a lot of 2012 V6’s. I would still prefer a V8 but not the fuel bills I doubt i would buy a petrol car again. 
    The Diesel is the best compromise I came up with down sizing from a older 6 cylinder.

    Keep up the good work.

    David Wright of Australia Posted on 23 June 2012 12:11am
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