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Week at the wheel: Ford Focus Zetec S. Image by Jamie Lipman.

Week at the wheel: Ford Focus Zetec S
Ford's first attempt at a hot diesel Focus isn't perfect, but it is comfortable, flexible and lots of fun.

 



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| Week at the Wheel | Ford Focus Zetec S |

Overall rating: 4 4 4 4 4

This is the first time Ford has produced a performance diesel version of the Focus, and the Zetec S certainly looks the part. The big diesel engine, mated to a five-speed gearbox, gives slightly lazy performance, but handling, chassis and refinement are all top of the class.

Key Facts

Model driven: Ford Focus Zetec S TDCi
Pricing: £21,545
Engine: 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbodiesel
Transmission: five-speed manual, front-wheel-drive
Body style: five-door hatchback
Rivals: Renault Mégane GT Line, Vauxhall Astra SRi, Volkswagen Golf GT TDI
CO2 emissions: 129g/km
Combined economy: 56.5mpg
Top speed: 135mph
0-62mph: 8.6 seconds
Power: 163hp at 3,750rpm
Torque: 340Nm at 2,000- to 3,250rpm

Inside & Out: 4 4 4 4 4

While the basic Focus's shape looks a little derivative, the Zetec S's sharp styling add-ons and lattice-spoke alloy wheels really lift it. The result is a car that disguises its size well, and offers a convincing blend of sophistication and sportiness.

Inside, the sweeping dash and sunken dials look great, but there are a couple of minor issues. While we admire Ford for trying to be different with the turquoise dash lighting, it does look a tad on the cheap side. The same can be said for the silver plastic surrounding the switches, though the soft-touch dashboard and door tops and chunky, knurled vent controls feel of high quality.

Ride & Handling: 5 5 5 5 5

This is where the Ford Focus has traditionally won its fans and thankfully it still excels here. Even if the new Mk3 model doesn't quite have the light-footedness of its predecessors, it's still a real giggle to hustle along. With the diesel engine providing bursts of torque out of the corners, a B-road blast on the way home from work is often too much fun to resist. Grip levels are astonishingly high, the steering is precise and the suspension controls the body well; remarkably so, in fact, considering the Zetec S's ability to dampen away all but the worst ruts and potholes.

As you'd expect, the driving position is easy to tailor to one's own preferences, and the view out is generally very good. The strange, proboscis-like housing for the screen-mounted sensors and cameras does seem intrusive at first, but because the windscreen is so enormous, it doesn't really affect visibility.

Engine & Transmission: 4 4 4 4 4

While the Zetec S's Duratorq engine is, on the whole, an excellent performer, there's a touch of turbo lag, which can frustrate. Nevertheless, once the turbocharger has spooled up, power delivery is punchy and even exciting. Refinement is top-notch, too; even approaching the red line the engine never booms or becomes coarse, and at motorway speeds it fades to a distant hum, unlike some other high-powered diesels.

The gearbox feels great, with a slick, well-damped action. But while the lower ratios are snappy and well-judged, higher up the 'box things feel a little too long-geared, taking the edge off acceleration at motorway speeds.

Equipment, Economy & Value for Money: 3 3 3 3 3

At £21,545, the Zetec S TDCi undercuts many of its rivals, offering more power for less outlay than the equivalent Golf or Astra. That said, both of those rivals use less fuel than the Focus, which, depending on annual mileage, might end up balancing out the higher price. The Golf should also boast a better residual value.

Equipment levels are acceptable, if not stunning. Automatic headlights and wipers are standard, but not climate nor cruise control. The optional Driver Assistance Pack is much-vaunted, but most of its features are unnecessary complications or simply don't work very well, so it isn't really worth the cash in our opinions.


Alex Robbins - 5 Jun 2012









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2011 Ford Focus Zetec-S. Image by Jamie Lipman.2011 Ford Focus Zetec-S. Image by Jamie Lipman.2011 Ford Focus Zetec-S. Image by Jamie Lipman.2011 Ford Focus Zetec-S. Image by Jamie Lipman.2011 Ford Focus Zetec-S. Image by Jamie Lipman.

2011 Ford Focus Zetec-S. Image by Jamie Lipman.2011 Ford Focus Zetec-S. Image by Jamie Lipman.2011 Ford Focus Zetec-S. Image by Jamie Lipman.2011 Ford Focus Zetec-S. Image by Jamie Lipman.2011 Ford Focus Zetec-S. Image by Jamie Lipman.



2011 Ford Focus Zetec-S. Image by Jamie Lipman.
 

2011 Ford Focus Zetec-S. Image by Jamie Lipman.
 

2011 Ford Focus Zetec-S. Image by Jamie Lipman.
 

2011 Ford Focus Zetec-S. Image by Jamie Lipman.
 

2011 Ford Focus Zetec-S. Image by Jamie Lipman.
 

2011 Ford Focus Zetec-S. Image by Jamie Lipman.
 

2011 Ford Focus Zetec-S. Image by Jamie Lipman.
 

2011 Ford Focus Zetec-S. Image by Jamie Lipman.
 

 






 

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