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Car reviews - Ford - Focus - TDCi 5-dr hatch

Our Opinion

We like
Diesel/twin-clutch Powershift combo, superb steering/handling/ride compromise, roomy cabin, interior quality lift, standard stability control on LX models up
Room for improvement
Dated cabin, CL price rise

Ford logo16 Apr 2009

By BYRON MATHIOUDAKIS

UNSURPRISINGLY, with no mechanical changes made on the normal petrol-powered Focus models, Ford Australia presented the media with the new LV series TDCi turbo-diesel fitted with the Powershift gearbox.

And what a beauty it is!

Smooth, with superfast and virtually imperceptible up-changes, this six-speed dual-clutch manual gearbox mates beautifully with the torquey 2.0-litre TDCi engine. There is minimal step-off acceleration lag and none of the jerky low-speed shifts that mar some of the opposition transmissions.

Most people will agree that Ford did not have to improve the Focus’ driving experience at all, but the addition of the excellent Powershift to one of the best diesel engine applications currently available in a small car lifts its dynamic abilities even higher.

If driving is your priority, then so should the Focus be on your small-car shopping short list.

Post new-generation Mazda3 (let alone the latest VW Golf), nothing less than a complete overhaul was necessary to save the Focus’ unremarkable interior presentation from dating further, but as Ford has only limited the changes to new instrumentation and a different centre console, most buyers are likely to still feel a little underwhelmed sitting inside the LV model.

On the other hand, the materials inside do feel better, and there is nothing awry about the driving position, ergonomics or overall comfort. And Ford’s diesel is a damn sight cheaper than VW’s, while Mazda no longer even offers one in the ‘3.’

Not much else to report otherwise.

You get the feeling that Ford is too busy trying to make the newer Falcon and flashy Fiesta fly to worry about too much about the Focus for now, particularly as the new-generation model is probably less than two years away from being made in Australia.

Yet the current, revised European hatch in TDCi/Powershift guise makes for an involving and characterful alternative to the many and varied small cars out there.

No wonder then Ford was so keen for us to sample this model above all others. To steal the original Laser’s tag line from the early 1980s … it’s brilliant!

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