Saturday, May 29, 2010

Ford Focus TDCi

Going into an era where fuel prices has catapult up way faster than many politicians can walk their talks has prompted us Malaysians to look for alternative fuel be it diesel or hybrid. Whatever the positive findings of hybrid technologies can be, they’re still in infancy stage which is why many car manufacturers still banking on new age turbodiesel.

Common praises including ‘zillionth’ percentage of better fuel economy, superior torque low down, and lower emission levels. All is a jolly good news for us motorists but is there any free lunch in this world for something that is too good to be true?

In here, Ford has already loosing its appeal to Malaysians since the Laser and Telstar days in the nineties. They managed to crawled back just a bit with the Ranger for short period until introduction of Mitsubishi Triton, Nissan Navara, Toyota Hilux and the likes rath back at them. In these trying times, and to get its anchor dealer Auto ConneXion to breathe for survival sake, they’ve brought in Focus 2.0 TDCi at affordable sums of RM125k OTR (excluding insurance) which is about the same price as Honda Civic 2.0, Toyota Corolla Altis, Nissan Sylpy and Mazda 3 2.0. And as we kept hearing fuel prices going to be revised again and again, I truly think it’s a smart, cunning and brave move!

And so today after going rounds and rounds of window shopping of which is the best place to go for custom FMIC installation with for the Pocong, I found myself cruising along Federal Highway en route home until I saw Ford dealership on the right side. What the heck, let’s waste my not so precious weekend time for window shopping that Focus.

The moment I stepped into the showroom, Mane who’s the SA on duty came to me and said “Afternoon Sir, let me guess you’re in for the Focus turbodiesel right? We don’t have on in the showroom but you can have a look at our test car at the front and maybe going for test drive?” Surely I can’t say no :)

Practical and great to drive, the Mk1 Focus is really hard to fault, only thing we can’t never be entirely happy with is its looks. That’s where Ford responded to that by giving the new Mk2 Focus pretty substantial makeover with headlamps which is very Mondeoish, grill and front end also being redesigned to take on latest Ford’s corporate look. And while it’ll take a very keen eye to notice changes on the profile and the rear end, the whole new outlook is very much muscular and modern than its dated predecessor.

Going inside, the dial pack is again Mondeo inspired; sharp red-and-white background instead of the boring old green and some silvery touches surrounds for the dials except on this TDCi, the redzone starts from 4.5k rpm while speedometer up to 240 km/h. Fit and finish remains well ok. However, the plush bits on top part of the dashboard contrast painfully with the hard, dull and well cheap stuff everywhere. By Ford’s standard in the past, this is by all means mediocre. Even the leather seats, as supportive and comfortable they may be, feels not really seem to be made of leather, quite frankly PU is more appropriate if I’m being honest.

Like most Fords, it’s quite reasonably well equipped. Apart from its 2.0 four pot that makes 134PS and 320nm out of diesel force fed and being delivered onto the tarmac by Ford’s very own double clutch’s Powershift 6 speeder, it comes with 16” alloy rims wrapped in 205/55/16 profile tyres, Dual Electronic Automatic Temperature Control (DEATC), rear air-cond vents, electronic adjustable front seats, tilt and telescopic adjustable steering and audio control mounted on steering column. Safety and security being kept in checked by ABS with EBD assist, ESP, dual airbags on the front and of course 5 star NCAP crash rating.

After getting myself strapped in the driver’s cockpit with driving position set just spot on, cranked the engine with ‘S’ button located at the gear console turned to ON. First impression I’ve got is, blimey, it’s seriously quiet in here hardly I hear diesel clatters, hell the Pocong’s idling is way more noisy.

As I drive it out of the gate with right foot firmly nailed to the floor, it made me realise that turbodiesel in car nut point of view memang indah kabar dari rupa. This is where diesel’s superior torque can’t in many ways to compensate lack of revs and horsepower. Full stop.

Plenty of faults I can pinpoint here, first of which is the lack of response on the delivery, the boost finally come on song after around 2.5k rpm, in the diesel world is pretty laggy where as mentioned earlier redzone is 4.5k rpm. 320nm claimed figures feels overrated really. And how ‘much’ it gives at that powerband comes in one lump sum but after 4k rpm, you need to change gear. That’s how much frustrating driving diesel fed cars. Mind you this is using 6 speed double clutch gearbox, if it’s 4 speed conventional Ford’s, it’ll be horrid.

While the designers have done much on the car, the engineers look like skipping office hours with lots of ELs and MCs. And that’s not a bad thing really because dynamically it’s already class leading. McPherson strut on the front while the space saving control blade on the rear carried over from Mk1 is already good enough in providing well balanced chassis and good compromise between good road holding and comfort.

Although the test route wasn’t exactly spritely by nature, the steering feels sharp, positive and above of all is natural. Better than many hot hatches around including Satria Neo CPS, Alfa MiTo, and regrettably Polo GTI. Still I stand corrected that R56 MCS may have an edge on this department compared to Focus but I can imagine if you’re driving this Focus on the twisties, you’ll definitely forgotten for a while that this is actually a proper four-door family hatch, with generous space inside which happens to has a very spot on dynamics all around. And let’s not forget, it’s never in anyway anytime uncomfortable, the setup on this thing is brilliant. You’ll go into a bump and it immediately settles down again, it’s really as I said earlier a class leading.

Should Proton needs a new yardstick in ride & handling, it has to be this Focus. This is because of all Proton’s I’ve driven and I’ve driven all of them, they have never been as this Focus’s competent.

That said, I truly feel, Focus TDCi is quite an astonishing family car in every way given its price tag and diesel fed benefits. Of course build quality is declining but you don’t pay for a VW. The 308 turbo and Civic definitely got their work cut out by some margin here except only left in mind is how affordable is the maintenance of the car. But hey, since Malaysians rarely keep their cars for many years, why bother much on this when it comes with 3 years warranty and free servicing.

PS: Should you buy one, please for the love of God uncheck the optional blue stripes. It’s very loud and rice!


  1. nice review!

    my last trip to the uk 2 weeks ago, I rented a ford mondeo tdci with the 6 speed manual gearbox. Boost comes much earlier about 1.5k and engine was really strong on that one. It has about 10k miles on its clock and got it up to 135mph at one point. As much as I love lumpy idles and high revs, I on the other hand, love the turbodiesels. I could have driven the mondeo in 4th gear in any speed, its engine is that flexible and torquey.

    Again the climate here could be a factor, 15 deg C to about 34 deg C. But given the choice, my next daily driver will be a turbo diesel. Did I also mention I got close to 600 miles (960 km) on a full tank of diesel, approximately 55-60 litres of it. I cant see a petrol engine doing this unless its a hybrid. And I wasnt doing an economical drive on the mondeo!

  2. True, the Focus could easily get 900-1000kms on a tankful. :)