Long term test report: Ford Focus Estate Titanium X 1.6 TDCi
The Focus Estate is already getting a warm reception from Ian Robertson’s family, and already one of its safety devices has proved invaluable in avoiding an accident.
It’s always interesting when people find out what job I do, as I invariably get asked what car I would recommend. Rather handily, the car that I would recommend people to buy is the one that I drive. With most families downsizing, the Focus Estate is right on the money and gets the balance right between price, equipment and space. And usually it’s met by a ‘you would say that’ because you have one, but I can honestly say it is true. I’ve always been a fan of cars made by ‘The Blue Oval’, having privately owned a succession of fast Mondeos and Focus’ in the past, and with the latest generation Focus, I firmly believe it is the best Focus yet. Of course it doesn’t quite have the pin sharp steering and keen handling of the 1998 original, but then I’m not sure that we’ll ever see a car that great again, thanks to the need to include all manner of safety equipment that bloats the kerbweight somewhat. But in terms of balancing an engaging driving experience, interior space and a long list of standard equipment, it firmly hits the target for me. And it seems like it does for the public too, as it was the best selling medium car in the UK last year.
…in terms of balancing an engaging driving experience, interior space and a long list of standard equipment, it firmly hits the target for me”
Usually the next point of discussion is the colour of my chosen Focus – Candy Yellow as Ford calls it. I’m usually asked whether I chose it myself, or whether it was forced upon me. When I say that I chose it, it’s usually met with surprise, as it would seem that the bright pearlescent hue is an acquired taste. My first priority is always how the car will look in the pages of the magazine, and truth be known, my first choice would actually have been Candy Red, but that colour isn’t available to order right now. Thanks to the Japanese earthquake and tsunami, there’s a shortage in a pigment called Xirallic, which is used by paint companies to make up the striking pearlescent red formula. This particular pigment which contains coated glass flakes was only made at one factory in Japan at Onahama and was affected by exposure to radiation being spilled out by the Fukashima nuclear reactor. Power, water and other utilities were cut off as a result, as well as the dangers of radiation itself, so quite understandably that there have been disruptions to production and limits placed upon some colours in Ford’s colour palette, until supply of the Xirallic flake is back up to normal levels.
One particular piece of the Focus’ safety equipment I tried out early in its tenure, was the low speed safety system, which works by monitoring the road ahead and the distance between the car in front and your own vehicle. If the system detects that the driver hasn’t reacted to the car in front braking or to an obstacle and there’s the likelihood of a collision, then the system emits a shrill warning and can apply the brakes itself. The system was activated whilst I was driving along a dual carriageway and a car swerved from the outside lane into my lane to take a left hand turn that he had obviously left too late. While I had seen fully what was happening and had the matter in hand, the car’s electronics actually reacted a moment earlier than I was able to and proved effective in warning me of a potential problem. It’s this kind of safety equipment that will make positive inroads into accident reduction, particularly at low speeds where it is easy for concentration to be lost in slower moving traffic.
Regular readers will know that I have a fondness for brightly coloured cars, as they look so much better on the page, and this new load-lugging Focus is no exception. You’ll remember my Kermit coloured Fiesta, and bright blue Kuga, and after the dayglo orange Grand C-MAX, we’ve now got luminous yellow, which is called Candy Yellow in Ford’s colour charts. And with this time of the year predominantly consisting of fog, grey days or downpours, the yellow paintwork will make a positive safety contribution, as other motorists should be able to see it.
As with most cars that start their life at the Ford press garage, my Focus is stacked to the rafters with kit. The optional extras take the standard price from £21,245 up to an eye watering £24,915. Things like satellite navigation, adaptive cruise control, 18-inch alloy wheels and of course the metallic paint all cost extra. We also opted for some extra safety benefits by choosing the Driver Assistance Pack which consists of a lane departure warning system, driver alertness sensors, traffic sign recognition, a blind spot information system and low speed city safety. At £750, it’s a small price to pay to ensure that in twelve month’s time, the Focus is in the same condition that it arrived in.