Confusion reigns among car buyers, with diesel falling out of favour according to reports.
But the majority of private car buyers choosing models like the Ford Fiesta or Focus are already firmly in the petrol camp with only around one per cent thinking diesel will suit them better.
Truth is that for many years experts have been saying that anyone driving fewer than 18,000 miles a year is probably wasting money following the diesel route. Diesel cars carry a purchase price premium, some of which returns when the car is sold on, and the fuel tends to provide more miles per gallon but costs more at the pumps.
The downside for many drivers is the particulate emissions that come with diesel and they are willing to trade reducing that for a slight increase in CO2 output instead.
But seeing a significant rise in CO2 doesn’t have to be a consequence of switching to a petrol car, far from it. After all, Ford’s EcoBoost engine, made in Britain and a multi-times winner in the International Engine of the Year awards, has been doing its bit to reduce harmful greenhouse gases for several years.
Its CO2 output is just 105 g/km for the 100 PS version, marginally more than the 95 PS of 1.5 litre DuraTorq diesel but there’s a £680 price saving to sweeten the pill. Every cloud has a silver lining!
The EcoBoost is a three cylinder engine, an increasingly familiar format for buyers of family cars. As a one litre, it has what many designers always considered the perfect cylinder capacity for efficiency and that certainly shows itself well when you drive a car that uses it.
Of course, it would be easy to make the engine look even better by driving it in a Fiesta but it’s the larger Focus that really shows what it can do purely because it’s the heavier of the two models.
The good news is that the physical size of the car does not detract from what the engine can achieve, even bearing in mind that the test car, a Zetec five door hatch, only had 36 miles on the clock when we picked it up from Edwards Ford in Salisbury. Even modern engines, which no longer need a strict running-in regime, can feel a bit tight to start with. They tend to free up once a couple of hundred miles have gone by, when performance can expect a lift along with the all-important fuel consumption.
Ignoring any suggestions from the “official” fuel consumption tests which are now being revised, we set out for a real world experience and were mighty pleased.
Giving the car a vigorous cross country drive along twisting lanes and A roads brought an average of 42.5 mpg. It was obvious that the car had more to give and a settled motorway cruise would surely see it nearer 50 mpg.
When you think back 20 years and what could be obtained from petrol-powered cars it’s obvious that the EcoBoost has brought fuel consumption for family models such as the Fiesta and Focus into a more affordable era. Looking back those two decades, at that time bigger engine capacities were needed to give the same performance levels as today’s 100PS EcoBoost which shows how the application of technology has helped improve the modern motoring world.
The engine’s characteristics are such that even though peak power comes in at a happy 6,000 rpm, the all-important peak torque, the working figure for the engine, arrives at 1,400 rpm, which is lower than even a diesel engine. It means the car can pull well in higher gears so there’s never any need to hit high revs – slower engine speeds equate to lower fuel consumption, as the EcoBoost clearly demonstrates.
Economy motoring used to involve cars that were impossibly high geared and difficult to enjoy except when cruising but the Focus EcoBoost reveals how lucky we are. The car is currently impossible to cast aside for most families because public transport is not as accessible as we need so at least the Focus EcoBoost lessens the impact of personal travel considerably. And current scrappage and other deals also lessen its cash consumption, too!
It still makes a sensible family choice with its ample space – and if you want more there’s always the workhorse estate model. With a car like the Focus EcoBoost, it’s easy to see why Ford continually dominates the family market. If this is economy motoring – bring it on!
Maurice and Annette Hardy
Car: Ford Focus Zetec 1.0 EcoBoost 100 PS
Does it fit your ego…
0-62 mph: 12.5 secs
Top speed: 115 mph
PS: 100 @ 6000 rpm
Torque: 170 Nm @ 1400 rpm
…and your wallet…
Combined: 61.4 mpg
CO2 emissions: 105 g/km
Best bits: mean, clean and a dream to drive