By Mike Torpey on 2019-02-17 - Driving Force news editor and responsible for organising our daily output. He was staff motoring editor of the Liverpool Echo for 20 years.
Ford Focus 1.5 TDCi
ST Line X
FORD describes its new, fourth generation family-friendly Focus as a game-changer.
According to the company's blurb, it "introduces a new human-centric design philosophy that fuses emotional exterior styling with class-leading aerodynamics".
Yes, I think we might have heard all that before, though possibly dressed in a different mix of gobbledygook depending on the manufacturer.
So let's sweep the PR speak and sales twaddle off the sheet and take a cold, clear look at the latest iteration of a car that's been a model of consistency for bang on 20 years.
More elegant than before, the latest Focus also has an appreciably longer wheelbase, which itself equates to extra room for passengers.
But then Ford has undertaken some intersting space research - revealing among other things that the average school-child grows at a rate of six centimetres a year.
And at their peak rate, kids can grow a whopping 16 centimetres in 12 months - with growth spurts of up to half a centimetre in a single night!
So the Blue Oval brand has improved rear knee-room in the Focus by five centimetres, while there's also six centimetres more shoulder room and the side windows now stretch further rearward so passengers have an unrestricted view out.
Then there's the flatter floor beneath the centre seat making it more comfortable to sit in and helping reduce squabbles over who goes in the middle.
Small change perhaps but little things can make a world of difference, especially when there are such fine lines between what makes one car more desirable, or value for money, than another.
The new Focus is certainly desirable, right through the both the trim grades and range of efficient petrol and diesel engines.
Our tested version in upscale ST Line X spec, featured the company's 1.5-litre 120PS diesel engine, mated to a six-speed manual gearbox.
It's not the quickest powerplant in the line-up but spectacular on running costs with a combined fuel economy figure of 74.3mpg and CO2 emissions of just 99g/km.
ST Line X brings a more sporty style with a a larger rear spoiler, sports seats in a leather/fabric mix, a chunky flat-bottomed leather steering wheel with red stitching, alloy pedals, ST Line kick-plates, red brake calipers and twin tailpipes.
The eight-inch floating touchscreen is simple and clear, you also get a head-up display and a mobile phone charging pad.
This model's suspension is also tuned, making it firmer and beautifully balanced - but then top-notch dynanics have long been a trait of the Focus.
Ford's claim that this Focus is their 'best yet' can't be disputed, and with features that can help drivers make light work of stop-start traffic, see more clearly when driving in the dark, park simply by holding down a button and avoid accidents, it's clearly a model going places.
Ford Focus 1.5 TDCi ST Line X
Mechanical: 120ps, 1,499cc, 4-cyl diesel engine driving front wheels via 6-speed, manual gearbox
Max Speed: 120mph
0-62mph: 10.5 seconds
Combined MPG: 74.3
Insurance Group: 16
C02 emissions: 99g/km
Bik rating: 23%
Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles.
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