I’ve said it before and will surely say it many times more: We live in interesting automotive times. The rush towards alternative and more efficient variations to the old internal combustion engine is well underway. From small displacement, turbocharging, diesel, hybrids, EVs and more, the options are plenty, but not one fits all needs. At least not at the moment.
Ford launched EcoBoost roughly six years ago, and it quickly became synonymous with efficiency and “going green.” As brilliant as Ford’s marketing campaigns have been, the fact is that “boost” has demonstrated to be greater than “eco” in many applications. Recently, the Blue Oval applied boost to smaller displacement engines thus lining up closer with eco. In this example, the Focus EcoBoost is about as “green” as they get -- or is it?
The Ford Focus is a superb car. I’ve reviewed it a number of times since its latest revamp for the 2012 model year and always walk away with a nod of approval. The subject of this review gets a nod as well as a doubt-filled raised eyebrow. The car handles properly, and presents very well with an impressive level of refinement.
This SE EcoBoost iteration strives to be the most fuel efficient of the Focus line-up thanks to an innovative turbocharged 1.0L 3-cylinder engine mated exclusively to a 6-speed manual transmission. On paper, compromises seem non-existent.
A base Focus S sedan retails for $16,799. Stepping up to the SE EcoBoost requires exactly $4,000 more.
Here are five points that you must remember if you are considering the purchase of the 2015 Ford Focus SE EcoBoost:
Regardless of my efforts, I could not bring my average fuel consumption below that of 9L/100km. Ford’s data shows that the attainable average should hover just over 7L/100km. I tried hypermilling, coasting, leaving the aggressive start-stop function on the whole time, and staying within the speed limits as best I could. All of this to no avail.
As I noted, I’ve driven a number of Focii over the years and I’ve often been let down by my returned averages. I will not include the Focus ST on this list, as its pocket-rocket nature is not conducive to driving “nicely.” I suspect that far more highway driving, like 75% instead of a near 50/50 split, would improve the result…
Driving the thing
Unfortunately, driving with “eco” in mind in this car is nothing short of a chore, but the process isn’t. By process, I mean taking the Focus to the streets. As with all Focus models since they arrived on our shores for the 2000 model year (I drove many when new), the compact Ford has always had a knack for sticking to pavement. Steering is sharp, finely tuned and the ride quality is good. The fully independent suspension keeps the rubber in contact with the road, all the while keeping chassis movements to a minimum.
The bum part of driving the Focus EcoBoost is its marshmallow-y throttle response. Unless applying steady and even pressure to the throttle pedal, it’ll feel like dipping your foot in a jar of marshmallow spread. When you eventually get to the bottom then things begin to happen.
Plenty of getup and go
There are very few 3-cylinder engines on the market at the moment, but let me tell you that this one has nothing to do with the one found in the Mitsubishi Mirage. This one’s turbocharged and is good for 123 horsepower and 125 lb-ft of torque.
Maximum torque drops in by 3,500 rpm, which is this car’s saving grace. Unfortunately, if the right-hand pedal played nice, fun would be had right off the cuff. The 1.0L mill pulls nicely to and marginally beyond the 6,000-rpm mark, when max hp shows up. Quite honestly, and even on the highway, this is more than sufficient for the daily grind. And no, I wasn’t pushing the 3-pot like a maniac to keep up with traffic; it did the work on its own.
One of the Focus’ greatest assets is its level of class. As I noted in my ST review, the Focus is amazingly refined and this, despite the presence of the odd-numbered-cylinder engine.
There must be sound-deadening material in every nook and cranny. I heard no rattles and very few road and wind noises; the engine was barely audible. Beyond that, the Ford’s fit and finish are very good, as are the materials. I would complain that the centre console protrudes too far forward as I knocked my knuckles on it while shifting a few times.
Much like the ST, this car feels like a far more expensive and luxurious automobile. That may be the best part about the Focus.
Redesigned for 2012, facelifted just recently, the 2015 Ford Focus displays a very contemporary chiselled design that will age very well. In a rare twist, both the sedan and hatchback are worthy of praise.
As for this SE EcoBoost (only offered as a sedan), it includes 17” alloy wheels, fog lamps, front and rear valences and diffusers, and a rear spoiler. The end product is far sportier looking than its performance numbers suggest.