Time to Focus

Engine test: Ford’s 1.0 EcoBoost petrol

We appear to have reached a little plateau in diesel engine development at the moment. It isn’t the case that they have stopped evolving, more that the rate of change has slowed down. On the other hand, petrol engines have been coming on in leaps and bounds. Until recently, the most notable development was Fiat’s TwinAir which ticked all the eco boxes yet delivered that crucial ingredient: fun.

With Ford’s illustrious history of engine development it is therefore extremely significant that they have placed a small displacement block in their mainstream Focus. This might at first appear to be the sales person’s nightmare. It’s going to be a bit weedy, isn’t it? And how on earth might one admit the engine size to one’s friends?  So, ignoring the silly male ego for one moment, what is the EcoBoost engine? It’s a three cylinder unit with cast iron block with aluminium head. It has a compact, low inertia turbo and twin independent variable valve timing.  It’s full of innovative features like the clever split cooling system which allows faster warm-up. It’s available with two power outputs, 100 and 125 PS (we drove the 125 PS).  And its footprint is small enough to sit on an A4 piece of paper.

Ford claims it’s like a 1.6 petrol engine – and it is. Well, nearly. There’s a bit of turbo lag but once on the boil, this thing really bowls along. The off-beat thrum from the three cylinders is rather charismatic, too. This works in its favour (lovely to open-up and enjoy) but spirited driving will naturally take the edge off the fuel consumption. The respectable 170Nm torque is available from 1,400rpm which means it pulls away comfortably and provides ample thrust for mid-range overtaking. The only other notable characteristic of this engine is that there is almost no engine braking, indicative of just how smooth it is.

Of course the other aspect of this engine is it sits in the class-leading Focus, which means the rest of the car is extremely good, too. And because the engine is light, it’s good for the car’s agility. We drove the top spec Titanium X five-door which is very well appointed.

The only feature I hadn’t seen before is the door protector mechanism. Based on a mechanical linkage, it extends a protective strip over the outer edge of the door to protect its paint.  The only flaw is we really need it fitted to other vehicles rather than our own. Still, park next to a Focus with this £50 option and you’ll be fine.

In summary, this engine represents a paradigm shift in terms of size and output. It has won a number of awards (and rightly so), notably International Engine of the Year for 2012, announced last week. Best of all, there doesn’t seem to be a downside – it’s a step change in efficiency yet we’re not being punished for choosing the cleaner option. This engine will also be made available in the C-Max (and B-Max when it comes on stream) later this year.

Ford Focus Titanium X EcoBoost 1.0 petrol, £20,945. (Model tested includes pearlescent Candy Yellow paint, 18” wheels, door edge protectors, DAB, Appearance Pack and Driver Assistance Pack bringing on-the-road price to £24,265. The EcoBoost-powered Focus starts at £16,445 for the 100PS Edge.)

Power: 125 PS (6,000 rpm), torque: 170Nm (1,400 rpm), emissions: 114 g/km CO2 (band C), 0-60 mph: 11.3 secs, combined mpg: 56.5.

Motor Writer rating: ●●●●●

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