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Ford Focus Zetec S Red Edition 1.5T EcoBoost

Click to view picture gallery “For 2016, Ford are introducing a
  number of ‘colour’ editions of their
  most popular models; the Ka, Fiesta,
  B-Max and Focus. In the case of
  the Focus — a model range which
  found 83,816 UK customers last year
  — there are now Zetec S Red and
  Zetec S Black editions...”

THE NEW FOCUS ZETEC S RED EDITION features a Race Red exterior and contrasting Panther Black roof, black mirror caps and black grille surround. However if black is your colour of choice then you can instead have a Black Edition it simply reverses the combination with a Panther Black exterior, Race Red roof, red mirror caps and red grille surround.

Reminds me of Henry Ford's comments about having any colour as long as it's black. Still, red-and-black (or black-and-red) is a step up. And it doesn't end there the Focus's new two-tone theme is carried through to the interior with a black-painted centre stack, black leather sports steering wheel and gear lever gaiter with red stitching, black leather handbrake lever and gaiter with red stitching, black floor mats with red stitching and charcoal black sport seats, also with Yes, you guessed it contrasting red stitching!

Available only in five-
door bodystyles,
customers have the
choice of either a 1.5-litre
EcoBoost 179bhp
turboed petrol engine
delivering 127g/km and
51.4mpg or a 2.0-litre
Duratorq TDCi
147bhp turbodiesel with
105g/km and 70.6mpg...”
Both versions feature unique Panther Black 17-inch alloy wheels, upper and lower honeycomb-style black grille, a sports body styling kit with muscular bumpers, side sill skirts, red-painted brake callipers and a body-coloured rear spoiler.

The Black editions wear a different style of front bumper with a rear diffuser beneath it. Both Red and Black versions will also deliver a sportier driving experience thanks to a lower sport suspension featuring front and rear springs stiffened by approximately 10%, tuned shock absorbers for enhanced body control, and a front anti-roll bar optimised for front-end grip and turn-in performance.

Available only in five-door bodystyles, customers can opt for either a 179bhp (182PS) 1.5-litre EcoBoost turboed petrol engine delivering 127g/km CO2 and 51.4mpg or a 147bhp 2.0-litre Duratorq TDCi turbodiesel with 105g/km and 70.6mpg. Both models are stick-changers with a six-speed manual gearbox.

Prices are 21,995 for the Red and 22,250 for the Black 1.5 petrol editions and 22,810 for the Red and 23,335 for the Black 2.0 turbodiesel versions. Ford's SYNC2 DAB SatNav system with its eight-inch touchscreen adds another 300 to the prices; rear parking sensors add 225.

Apart from its really good, purposeful sports styling inside and out, the highlight of these new petrol versions is the latest 1.5-litre EcoBoost, direct injection, turbocharged petrol engine which develops a strong 179bhp.

This unit puts the Red/Black editions in the Focus five-door hatch line-up above the 123bhp 1.0-litre EcoBoost turbo petrol engine but below the 246bhp 2.0-litre EcoBoost turbo petrol unit used for the ST versions. Trumping them all, and soon to arrive, is the 345bhp 2.3-litre turbo EcoBoost petrol engine for the fully-fledged RS models.

This 179bhp powerplant, plus the sports styling, allows the family car owner to retain the always useful five-door bodyshape but to have more 'grunt' readily available for those occasions when fast driving can be enjoyed without comprising the car's practicality. As such it's a really good option for motorists who cannot justify owning one of the Focus high-performance ST or RS versions plus, of course, it's much cheaper.

Due to its economy-
biased high gearing the
new engine is best
kept above 2,000rpm if
you want the sharpest
acceleration response.
Making the UK’s legal
70mph cruising speed
easy work is
a naughty-but-nice
138mph top speed...”
The new engine develops a healthy 177lb ft of torque from 1,600rpm, but due to its high gearing (for reasonable fuel economy and decent CO2 emissions) it's best kept above 2,000rpm if you want the sharpest acceleration response. Making the UK's legal 70mph cruising speed easy work is a naughty-but-nice 138mph top speed. Getting off the line to 62mph takes 8.2 seconds.

So long as the driver is happy to fully use the six-speed gearbox to keep the engine in its optimum powerband, it's a joy to drive. The downside is the real-life fuel economy: officially this unit should return 51.4mpg in the Combined Cycle but during my week-long test driving covering motorways, country A/B roads and a few short trips into my local town the figure maxed-out at just 37.4mpg. That said, a 200-mile motorway/dual carriageway cruise did see the figure rise to 40.3mpg but local driving reduced that considerably.

In its defence my very new test car had only covered 600 miles when it was delivered to me and more miles on the clock should see it loosen up and the fuel economy improve. With emissions of 127g/km owners will not pay any road tax in their first year with the car but from the second year it will be 110. A ray of good news: insurance is rated at Group 19E; well below the 34+ rating for ST versions.

The Focus has always been the best in its class for agility and sharp handling whilst retaining a comfortable ride. And even with the lowered sports suspension and larger 17-inch wheels the Red Edition's ride remains compliant and only a little firmer than the standard ride quality.

The exterior of the Red version attracted more comments about a new car than I have received for a long time and the interior is just as striking thanks to the sports front seats complete with red stitching that's carried over to the handbrake gaiter and leather-bound steering wheel. Alloy sports pedals and door sill guards add to the sporty theme.

A major improvement is the optional eight-inch SatNav screen which really enhances the look of the standard Focus fascia panel and gives a real 'lift' to the perceived quality of the car.

The Focus has always
been the best in its class
for agility and sharp
handling whilst retaining
a comfortable ride.
Even with the lowered
sports suspension and
larger 17-inch wheels
the Red Edition’s ride
remains compliant...”
The 'kit list' also includes a better centre console with a sliding armrest, keyless start button (albeit hidden from view by the steering column stalks), a Quickclear heated windscreen, AirCon, privacy glass, power windows and door mirrors, DAB audio, and Emergency Assistance connect function.

Externally there are LED daytime running lights, halogen headlights, front fogs, LED rear lights and, unseen, Hill Start Assist as well as traction and handling control systems.

The 179bhp Focus Red Edition is as good as it looks; a first rate family car with quite a bit of extra performance to brighten those dull motoring days.

Even so the real-life fuel consumption was well below the official figure and the engine lacks response below 2,000rpm and needs to be 'worked' to get the best sports performance.

Accept the foregoing and the Red Edition offers keen drivers a willing new engine and agile handling without sacrificing its proven family hatchback virtues including that compliant ride.
David Miles

Ford Focus Zetec S Red Edition 1.5T EcoBoost 5-door | 21,995
Maximum speed: 138mph | 0-62mph: 8.6 seconds | Test Average: 37.4mpg
Power: 179bhp | Torque: 177lb ft | CO2: 127g/km