Review: Ford’s Focus, Edge and Active

Oh dear. Are the wheels coming off the great Japanese UK car industry? Well, it’s certainly wobbling. First, Nissan announced that, despite promises, it would not be making its new X-Trail at its Sunderland factory. The chattering mob wanted to attribute it to uncertainty over Brexit but mostly it was to do with a model that was going out of fashion and the drop in demand for diesel engines.
The Ford Focus ST-Line XThe Ford Focus ST-Line X
The Ford Focus ST-Line X

Bang, wham. This week Honda said it would close its factory in Swindon in 2021. Finished. That leaves Nissan, still big, and Toyota now making its new Corolla near Derby. Fingers crossed, eh?

What of Vauxhall? It still makes the Astra in Cheshire and the Vivaro van in Luton. And Ford? Car production ended in the UK in 2002 and van assembly in 2013. It still makes a vast number of engines and transmissions for export – then imports in finished vehicles.

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An imaginary Vox Pop survey conducted at my fireside suggested that most of us assume Fords are still built in Britain. Ditto, Vauxhall.

The Ford ActiveThe Ford Active
The Ford Active

The Ford here, the almost brilliant Focus, comes from the southwest German town of Saarlouis, not far from the French border. It’s a car to be considered carefully if you are looking for a convenient four/five seater with refinement challenging its Germanic betters. Prices start at £18,300 for the 84bhp one-litre, five-door Style but hardly anyone buys the entry model, so look at the 99bhp one-litre Zetec for more kit and satisfaction. These three-cylinder engines are highly regarded by the press. In-house figures revealed by Ford show that nearly seven in ten buyers go for Titanium or ST-Line models, from around £21,000 for a 123bhp ST-Line.

My test car was an ST-Line X with a 118bhp 1.5 diesel engine and an eight-speed automatic gearbox selected by both steering column paddles and a space-saving rotary dial below the central stack. This is a natty feature similar to that used by Jaguar and Land Rover. Price: £26,800 (estate £27,900).

The price as tested was £32,095 — hoisted by LED headlamps, keyless admission, blind spot warning, metallic body paint, a heated steering wheel, an opening panorama roof, head-up display for the navigation and road speed limits, etc. Fuel consumption ranged from 40 to 50 miles a gallon. Tyres were 235/40 on 18-inch rims. Verdict: sweet.

Ford, too, is in the maelstrom of market forces. Models no longer in high demand are being dropped. Workforces are being shrunk. New models are coming.

The fatter face of the EdgeThe fatter face of the Edge
The fatter face of the Edge

Gone is the B-Max, a practical small family car with sliding rear doors which I know was ideal for some people. Under consideration, the C-Max and Grand C-Max, their higher seating welcomed by people with dodgy backs – who find the Focus and its ilk too low. If in doubt, buy now.

Ford updated its Kuga SUV last year, followed by a more forceful revamp of the larger Edge which most visibly got a fatter face, new bonnet profile and similar at the back. New engines were joined by standard fit of the 8-speed automatic and rotary selector, self-selecting 4x4 drive. The headline motor is a 235bhp twin turbo 2-litre diesel with 368.5lb ft of torque. It’s not cheap for a Ford with the three-model range costing £36,995 to £45,995 but they undercut Swedish and German prestige rivals. The fact that hardly anyone bought the Zetec entry model suggests that the money is there for a pukka Ford.

Finally, there is the new Focus Active and Active X in five-door and estate bodies, each with a pick of two petrol and two diesel engines and manual or automatic gears. The Active plan brings a modest lift in ride height – just three centimetres or 1.18 inches. Hmm, scarcely worth it? They run on 17 or 18-inch rims with comfier rubber (215/55 and 215/50 Hankook respectively). There is lip service to body protection at the front and back and along the sills. It is front-drive only but has technology to help grip on slippery or on loose surfaces – one mode for each. Anyone wanting maxi-grip would swap the summer rubber for a 4-seasons tyre.

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Ford sent us on a road route in the high moors south of Sheffield. The Actives felt little changed from a standard Focus but sales figures of the Active versions of the Ecosport and Fiesta suggest it’s what customers want. Viz, a bit more edge to their Ford.

There’s no huge hike in prices – so you can have the Focus Active for the same price as a regular Focus in Titanium or ST-Line specifications. Go to your dealer or the website for a full comparison. Ford teamed up with Cotic mountain bikes of Calver for a bit of lifestyle buzz. On a national scale it is putting resources and cars into supporting the RNLI.

Focus Active: from £21,900. Active X: from £24,400. It is based on the Zetec grade with added equipment. The Active X gets a full-house kit including part-leather interior, larger wheels and an opening panorama glass roof. Both body styles have roof rails.

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