Economy version of best-selling Focus promises no congestion charges or road tax bills.

With its new Focus ECOnetic, Ford has joined the rush of manufacturers readying low-CO2 models for sale. The new £16,050 small family hatchback emits as little as 114g/km of CO2, which is low enough to keep it free from this autumn to drive into central London, when other road users will be stumping up £8 per day or perhaps more.

And, like other cars below the 120g/km cut-off, it will be free from road tax from 2010. The new Ford uses a 1.6 diesel engine offering 89bhp or 108bhp, according to model. The more powerful engine emits 115g/km, the other 114g/km and each can manage up to 65.5mpg on a diet of mixed road conditions.

This car, like Volkswagen’s Bluemotion range of eco-cars, dsn’t resort to engineering wizardly you'll find aboard Toyota’s petrol/electric Prius, but instead uses a lean-tuned conventional engine, fast-rolling tyres, a slippery body shape and low-friction transmission oil.

The ECOnetic slips into the just-launched new Focus line-up between the Studio/Style models and the top-end Zetec and Titanium. has driven the 108bhp version briefly and we can say it is quieter than its Golf rival and picks up speed more smartly. It’s well equipped and handsome inside and out, and only a few bits of cheap-looking plastic on the door pillar and lower dash distract from its classy image.

While this Focus is a few hundreds of pounds dearer than its close rival, VW’s Golf Bluemotion, it has 4g/km cleaner tailpipe emissions and manages to squeeze an extra two or three miles out of a gallon of diesel.

An ECOnetic version of Ford’s family-sized Mondeo hatchback is due to reach showrooms in July. This will run below 140g/km CO2 and should achieve 53.3mpg. A ‘green’ version of the new Fiesta (which arrives in the autumn) will be available next year.

Fiat, meanwhile, is about to join the party with a sub-120g/km diesel variant of its Bravo hatchback.

Ford is also offering adjustable pedals as an option on the Focus and C-Max. The pedals can be moved to and fro by 55mm (2in), which could be a boon for shorter drivers. The option costs just £100.

Stephen Jury


June 1, 2008

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