SMALL is the new big in the motor industry, or so indications would suggest. Since the changing of the car tax system in 2008 life changed dramatically for all drivers, writes John Knox.
There was a mad rush by the industry to get that all important, environment friendly C02 emissions figure as low as possible, and much of the effort was put into developing clearer, bigger punching yet more frugal diesel engines.
When that C02 figure was in the right bracket it in turn qualified car owners here for a fairer, cheaper rate of road tax. Whether things will remain that way after the next Budget only time will tell, but at the moment the best C02 emissions figures are rewarded with the best road tax rates.
Ford strike back
Now Ford are striking back, and they are heralding the cause of petrol again, leading the charge with a high kicking, all action yet frugal petrol unit would you believe?
Yes, a 1.0-litre petrol engine that is capable of driving, without compromise, a fine family sized hatchback like the Focus? You had better believe it!
And it won’t stop at that, because this revolutionary EcoBoost engine as it is called will be available shortly in the Ford B-Max, C-Max and Fiesta.
This remarkable piece of engineering is capable of delivering up to 58mpg, according to Ford figures, and it has already raced off with the ‘International Engine of the Year’ award that was achieved with a record score.
I drove a Focus Zetec powered by this 1.0-litre EcoBoost unit last week, and while I didn’t attain the right up to the mark returns Ford suggested, in all other respects the easy operating bundle of energy under the bonnet delivered on the promise……plenty of torque; refinement; no grunting when challenged, if you get my drift, and without ever having to resort to the gears to coax the best out of the car.
The EcoBoost is a three cylinder turbo, direct fuel injection unit. The cylinder block, again according to Ford, would fit on an A4 page, yet it is capable of delivering a 100PS and 125PS output in a fuel efficient manner that is best in class.
The 100PS version can deliver over 58mpg (4.8 litre/100km) and emissions of just 109g/km, or 22g fewer than the current 1.6 petrol. My drive was in the lively 125PS variant that has a top speed of 193kph (120mph) yet has a small appetite for fuel (56mpg, 5 litre/100km).
The emissions figure is 114g/km, which slots into Band A or €160 tax bracket per year. The prices for the EcoBoost range start from €21, 485 for the Focus 5-door entry level model, and rise to €22,335 for the Focus Edge.
In both cases the prices represent a saving of €300 on the equivalent diesel model, and its interesting to note that shortly after the introduction the EcoBoost accounted for almost a quarter of Focus sales.
The easy driving Focus doesn’t need any introduction to Irish motorists. It is a great car, and has been a firm favourite here since the first day it was driven into forecourts.
The addition of the EcoBoost range is a massive step forward because there is still a fair body of people who, no matter what, still prefer their petrol drive.
In real terms this has little to do with petrol versus diesel. This is purely about driving and economics.
This is a quiet revolution. There is no whine as is generally the case with a 3-cylinder engine. You can barely hear the engine on start up, and in full slow the car just zips along.
Don’t take my word for it, try it. You won’t be disappointed!
Ford Focus Zetec 1.0-litre EcoBoost 6-speed petrol €24,235.
Engine: 999cc, 125PS, three cylinder turbo, direct fuel injection, 170Nm (up to 200 with transient overboost) torque at 1,400-4,500rmp.
Performance: 0 to 100kph in 11.3 seconds; 193kph (120mph).
Fuel consumption: combined – 5.0l/100km (56.5mpg); extra urban - 4.2 (67.3); urban – 6.3 (44.8).
C02 emissions: 114g/km.
Annual road tax: €160.