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Ford Focus TDCi 2007 review

As usual, everyone is heading to Queensland to escape winter. One contingent last week didn't come in caravans or mobile homes, but with smart new cars.

Ford could have chosen anywhere in Australia for the national launch of its updated Focus range, but naturally headed for the Gold Coast hinterland.

It's an interesting car. Designed in Europe and built in South Africa, it's steadily increasing in popularity thanks no doubt to a good dose of style, practicality and first-rate dynamics.

2007 Ford Focus

Explore the 2007 Ford Focus range

Things are about to get even better with a new series heading for showrooms, the first should trickle in this week, full stock by the end of the month; featuring a diesel version and a big price cut.

Like all the best new-generation diesels, this one feels smooth and runs quietly. It also sips fuel: scooting around the Gold Coast hills, trotting around the back blocks and cruising the highways in several cars during last week's preview showed averages of 5.5-6 litres per 100km.

The official rating is 5.6 litres for the diesel, compared with 7.1 litres per 100km for the petrol Focus, whose engine remains unchanged.

At $27,990 ($4000 above the equivalent petrol model), the Focus TDCi will be the cheapest 2.0 litre diesel, taking on established models like the Holden Astra 1.9 CDTi ($29,990), VW Golf 2.0 TDi ($32,490), Peugeot 307 2.0 XSE HDi ($32,590), and Dodge Caliber 2.0 ST CRD ($28,990).

The Ford diesel, a hatchback equipped like the Focus range's mid-rung LX model with alloy wheels and cruise control as standard. They will lose some buyers because it's unavailable with automatic transmission.

To compensate, the manual gearbox is a six-speed unit (compared with five gears in the “normal” Focus models) to maximise both fuel economy and performance. It's precise and firm, easy to use.

A good slice of its price advantage over Holden's Astra diesel is because stability control (which limits oversteer/understeer), traction control (which limits wheelspin) and curtain airbags, standard in the Holden, are optional in the Ford.

But they're an affordable option: list price is $1300 for the potentially life-saving package, only $650 until September 30.

The new TDCi is the attention-grabber of the revamped Focus range, but existing models have had a facelift (new bumpers, turn indicators, interior trim etc), upgraded equipment (anti-lock brakes and dual front airbags in the entry-level CL model, more airbags in dearer versions) and a significant price cut.

Most versions have come down $1000, so the series starts at $19,990 for the CL manual. The top-line auto Ghia sedan has dropped $1500 to $29,490.

To cover all bases, a Ghia hatchback and sporty-looking Zetec sedan have been added.

Ford says the price cuts are thanks to the strong Aussie dollar, and savings by getting the Focus from South Africa.

That may sound an unusual source for a European-designed small car, but the ones sampled last week looked and felt first-rate. No squeaks, rattles or blemishes.

And putting a heavier diesel engine in the nose adds almost 100kg and seems to have done nothing to upset the Focus's sweet handling.

There are strong hints of a diesel option on the way for Ford's strong-selling Territory wagon, but the Focus has won the race to be Ford Australia's first diesel car using an engine made by Volvo, part of the Ford group.

Pricing guides

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Range and Specs

Coupe-Cabriolet 2.0L, PULP, 5 SP MAN $3,800 – 7,999 2007 Ford Focus 2007 Coupe-Cabriolet Pricing and Specs
CL 2.0L, ULP, 4 SP AUTO $3,500 – 6,999 2007 Ford Focus 2007 CL Pricing and Specs
Ghia 2.0L, ULP, 4 SP AUTO $4,800 – 7,999 2007 Ford Focus 2007 Ghia Pricing and Specs
LX 2.0L, ULP, 4 SP AUTO $3,450 – 7,999 2007 Ford Focus 2007 LX Pricing and Specs