What’s the biggest attraction now of a new car? Well ask that question to the average man in the street, and the answer’s more than likely to centre round fuel efficiency and emissions.
Those answers, naturally, account for the growing swathe of ultra-clean and fuel-efficient cars which have entered showrooms over the past five-six years or so.
It’s also the reason behind the creation of a number of sub-brands within manufacturers’ stables: sub-brands like VW’s Bluemotion, the uber-efficient models.
Timely then that, in the build-up to the launch of the seventh-generation VW Golf in Bluemotion guise, Ford has re-fettled its Focus 1.6TDCi Econetic to produce the cleanest model in the range.
The work has certainly been beneficial: in Zetec spec, which will set you back £19,145, the revamped Focus emits just 99g/km CO2. It’s also good for 76.4mpg.
But things get even better — ok, that phrase is probably relative — if you’re happy to slip into the basic, entry-level Edge trim. If you are, Ford will fit an aerodynamic package — including an active grille shutter, underbody shielding and ultra-low rolling resistance tyres — which, in turn, improves the figures to a mightily impressive 88g/km and 83.1mpg. Those are hybrid-rivalling numbers.
And it’s nimble enough: it’ll saunter from standstill to 62mph in 11.8secs, and carry on to a max of 116mph. Both stats are more than adequate for dealing with everyday driving situations.
Powered by Ford’s 103bhp 1.6 Duratorq diesel engine, the ultra-frugal Econetic is pretty much identical in power delivery as other Ford Focus models.
From standstill it’s a bit thoughtful and obstinate to get going; moving up through the first three gears is handicapped because of the system’s long-gearing.
That said, once the car’s up-and-running, it’s exceptionally flexible. Ok, you might find yourself shifting down a gear — or even two — to maintain the pace you want, but that’s a small price to pay for the return at the pumps.
One thing that’s worth highlighting though: you’ll find yourself needing to plan your overtaking manoeuvres. Impulse overtakes are definitely to be avoided.
On the motorway, the Econetic’s leggy sixth gear comes into its own, delivering the prefect combination of effortless cruising and eye-catching economy.
Inside the cabin? Well, it’s a Ford Focus, and the Econetic has all the good points in ergonomics and styling that you’ll find across the rest of the Focus range. It also enjoys Ford’s well-established reputation for handling, and the ride’s pretty good too.
Sure there are more fun-filled models available, even within the Focus range — try the 1.0-litre three-cyclinder petrol — but if you need to have a five-door diesel hatchback, then the Focus Econetic will probably be the one for you.