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Click to view picture gallery“The new Focus Coupé-
  Cabriolet marks Ford’s
  welcome return to the
  ‘alfresco’ market.
  While its power roof
  stacks smoothly, how
  does the rest of it
  stack up against the

SINCE THE END of production
of the Ford StreetKa in 2005, Ford have not had a presence in the growing coupé-cabriolet market. All that has now been remedied with the two-door, four-seat Ford Focus Coupé- Cabriolet. Sales officially started at the beginning of this year, with some 600 units already with customers, but it is only now that the models are becoming readily available in time for summer.

Prices start at £16,795 for the 1.6-litre, 99bhp CC-1 version. The Focus CC-2 with a 2.0-litre 143bhp petrol engine is priced at £17,795 and the CC-2 with a 2.0-litre, 134bhp diesel engine costs £19,270. Higher specification CC-3 versions are available with a 2.0-litre petrol or diesel engine and cost £18,795 and £20,270 respectively. Petrol models have five-speed manual transmissions, while the diesel version uses a six-speed 'box. An automatic transmission will become available for 2.0-litre petrol models at the end of this year.

As a launch promotion, Ford is currently offering the £1,000 luxury pack that consists of the dual electronic temperature control and full leather trim free for all CC-3 models. Air conditioning is, incidentally, standard on all Focus Coupé-Cabriolet models.

Most volume manufacturers now offer coupé-cabriolet models. Current examples include the Vauxhall Tigra, the recently-launched Peugeot 207 CC, the Megane Coupé Cabriolet, the Peugeot 307 CC, Vauxhall Astra Twin-Top, the VW Golf Eos and the new BMW 3-Series Convert-ible. All these follow the current design trend of having a folding metal roof which brings added security and all-year-round practicality.

The Focus Coupé-Cabriolet is Ford's first power-operated retractable hardtop car and they say it is better equipped and approximately £350 cheaper than an entry-level Astra Twin-Top and a whopping £2,900 cheaper than the entry-level VW Eos — which is a purpose built coupé-cabriolet rather than a saloon or a coupé with a retractable roof.

Ford admits — because they have not been in this growing market sector for a number of years — they are unsure of the sales potential for their new model. But they estimate that around 6,000 cars will be sold this year, with only around 10 per cent of these being to fleet or business user-chooser customers — even though these drivers account for 70 per cent of all Focus sales annually in the UK. The Focus has been Britain's best selling range of cars since it was launched in 1998, and last year 138,000 of them were sold in the UK.

Ford said this week that the 1.6-litre petrol CC-1 models were expect-ed to account for 20 per cent of sales, with CC-2 and CC-3 each taking a 40 per cent share of registrations. The best-selling models will have the 2.0-litre 143bhp petrol engine, although they acknowledge that with the current increasing interest from the fleet and business market sectors, their 10 per cent prediction for diesel sales might be
on the pessimistic side. Only time will tell.

Ford also said they have no plans to introduce their 222bhp, turbo-charged, five-cylinder 2.5-litre petrol engine from the Focus three/
five-door ST hatchback range to the Coupé-Cabriolet line-up.

Who will buy the Focus Coupé-Cabriolet? Ford say their research into this growing sector shows there is a 50:50 split between male and female buyers, although more women tend to drive these cars than men. Around 70 per cent of owners are married and 30 per cent have children. The coupé-cabriolet styling attracts 57 per cent of buyers
to this segment and 32 per cent of customers will come from the C-sector, where the Focus range is already the market leader.

All Focus Coupé-Cabriolet models have alloy road wheels, an active roll-over protection system, four seats with shaped rear bench seats, electrically-operated and heated door mirrors, a Thatcham Category
1 alarm, CD player and air conditioning. The CC-2 derivatives have larger alloy wheels, leather steering wheel and a Sony MP3 player. Top of the range CC-3 models have leather seats, a different style of 17-inch alloy wheel, cruise control, a Sony 6-CD player, automatic lights and wipers, front fog lights and a distinctive grille surround.

Insurance group ratings are 8E for CC-1 variants and 11E for CC-2/
CC-3 models.

The model available for testing this week at the UK media event was potentially the best-selling version: the Focus Coupé-Cabriolet CC-3 with a 2.0i 16V 143bhp petrol engine and five-speed manual trans-mission. The price is £18,795 but, loaded with lots of options — including satellite navigation, the luxury pack (free for April on CC-3 models) — lifted the total up to a quite significant £23,345.

Whilst the 2.0-litre petrol engine proved to be reasonable enough for most people's needs, it didn't give the performance needed to go with the sporting image. I rather suspect the 1.6-litre unit will be too slug-gish and the likely best overall engine for all-round drivability and fuel economy will be the 2.0-litre turbodiesel engine. Sound, but not memorable, was how I found the 2.0-litre petrol engine — although it produces a top speed of 130mph and 0-62mph in 10.3 seconds. Fuel economy during the test drive, using motorways and A and B roads, was 37.1mpg. For the record, the official combined figure is 37.6mpg. The five-speed manual gearbox was slick and the ratios well chosen to give a flexible drive and reasonable overtaking acceleration.

The Focus Coupé-Cabriolet feels as though it has a torsionally-stiff and significantly reinforced bodyshell, although with the roof down there was still an element of scuttle shake and this became more evident on poorer road surfaces — concrete sections of motorways, for instance. With the roof up the car regained all the handling ability, compliance and ride comfort found with all other Focus models.

The powered roof operation was smooth — and simple to use — and buffeting inside the car with the hood down was minimal, especially with the optional rear wind deflector fitted. With the roof up, the interior of the car was exceptionally quiet.

The CC's cabin is well laid out with all the instruments sited logically. The driving position is good and visibility with the roof up is fine. The rear seats are roomy enough for teenage children, but adults might find legroom a bit skimpy compared to the VW Eos. With the roof up there is a considerable amount of luggage space — 504 litres. Roof stowed,
it shrinks to 234 litres, which is by no means the worst in this sector.

In its favour the new Coupé-Cabriolet is refined, practical and well equipped. It also serves up a reasonable ride and handling mix, roof down, that is excellent when the roof is up. Another plus is the easy to use retractable roof. Somewhat conservative styling means that it's not as desirable as the VW Eos. Again, given the sporty drop-top image, performance from the petrol engine was lacking in sparkle. How-ever next to the VW Eos, this new Ford Cabriolet is probably the best of the medium-sized coupé-cabriolet models currently on sale. — David Miles

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Ford Focus Coupé-Cabriolet 2.0i CC-3 | £18,795
Maximum speed: 130mph | 0-62mph: 10.3 seconds
Overall test MPG: 37.1mpg | Power: 143bhp | Torque: 136lb ft

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