Ford Focus EcoBoost

7 May, 2012 12:00pm Luke Madden

Is the new three-cylinder turbo engine powerful enough for the family hatchback? We find out


This 1.0-litre EcoBoost is more capable than a three-cylinder engine has any right to be. Not only does it make the Focus feel grown-up, it helps it perform as well in town as on motorways. The economy figures are just as impressive, while a price comparison with Ford’s diesels reveals it’s good value, too.

Putting a 1.0-litre three-cylinder engine in a Ford Focus doesn’t sound like the perfect recipe for motoring thrills. But this is Ford’s newest – and smallest – EcoBoost engine and it could well be one of the best in the current line-up.

The tiny engine, which has a footprint about as big as an A4 sheet of paper, is available with either 99bhp or 123bhp. Our car had the latter, but both engines feature direct injection and a minuscule turbocharger, and weigh only 97kg – that’s around 30kg lighter than the 1.6-litre petrol engine.

Look at the performance figures and you can see why Ford sees this engine as a replacement for the 1.6-litre. It takes the Focus from 0-62mph in 11.3 seconds, which is four tenths quicker than the bigger engine, and can manage 54.5mpg. By comparison, the 1.6 offers fuel economy of 44.1mpg.

While neither of the 1.0-litre’s figures can match those of Ford’s diesel models, the new EcoBoost has other talents. At idle, it’s almost completely silent, and under acceleration there’s a muted, deep three-cylinder warble that suits the grown-up nature of the Focus.

Most small engines like this require huge amounts of revs to pull away, but the 1.0 EcoBoost has no such problem. The only time you will be struck by its compact size is when you lift off in gear and discover that there’s very little engine braking to slow you down.

In corners, you’ll also notice that there’s less weight at the front of the car, which means it feels more agile and quicker to respond than any other Focus we’ve driven.

The most popular trim level will be the Zetec driven here. The kit list is decent, and includes air-con, DAB radio and cruise control. Although the price tag of £17,945 may sound expensive, it’s still £850 cheaper than the equivalent 1.6 TDCi diesel.

That means you’ll have to be a high-mileage driver before the diesel starts to make more financial sense than this excellent petrol engine.

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However competent the power unit is (and I retain misgivings about the longevity of three cylinder, highly stressed, units) there remains the potential fire hazard presented by the use of gasoline/petrol as a fuel. Anyone who has seen a car on fire will appreciate what I say.

With the availability of refined diesel units (from some manufacturers at least) there is an argument for phasing out gasoline/petrol as a fuel rather than developing low emission power units using it.

This "potential hazard" you refer to is a rubbish argument for a diesel alternative. The figures make sense for this 1.0l turbo 3 pot, they simply do not for diesels unless the driver is raking up excess of 18k+ miles per year.

My argument was less to do with economics than with safety, which you will see when you re-read my previous posting. Petrol is one of the most dangerous substances readily available and ignorance of this fact is widespread, from Cabinet Ministers "downwards". Just witness the recent instance of someone who was severely burned when decanting petrol in front of a lit oven.

If it does not have to be used in a vehicle there is a strong argument for not using it!

Hi, how anyone can use the type of fuel that is used as a 'safety' issue making the car a fire hazard beggars belief as most engine bay fires are down to the fluid used in the braking system after a accident. Also that fact is that diesels are on their way out for most car owners as they are becoming too expensive to run. The 1.0 engine will not be highly stressed at all as the torque is coming in at a low rpm, as the test quite clearly indicates. It is a gem of a engine and should prove very popular...

Brake fluid may well be a volatile inflammable substance but this does not of itself justify a second hazardous liquid being used in a vehicle when it need not be.

As the article refers to the engine a lot, it would have been nice to have seen a pic.

Are you mad? What the hell are you on about? So you want petrol banned as a fuel in cars?

Do you understand that most cars have a fuel cut off system? Do you realise the rather glaring lack of fireballs on our road everyday or do you live in a Stephen Seagal film?

Your comment has to the most pathetic, idiotic and WRONG comment i've seen on this site. There are so many flammable liquids in a car that a tank of petrol is going to make the square root of bugger all difference.

Nowhere did I say ban petrol just that there was an argument for phasing it out. Compared with the fuel content, all other liquids in a car are in very minute quantities.

Yes I have seen a car on fire, with a pall of black smoke going high in the air. Not nice.

Raw nerves seem to have been touched off in similar fashion in this thread!

That is all!

Oh and a relative's BMW 320d caught on fire and it was the engine. How do you feel about that.

I`ve been a diesel driver for many years now but this little engine has certainly fired up my imagination and can see this is the way forward for many motorists.

Temper Temper!

If you are considering the relative safety measures of petrol vs diesel I would imagine that more people are injured or killed in accidents caused by Diesel spillage (especially bikers) that in petrol fueled fireballs?

Its a ridiculous point to even raise let alone attempt to justify!

Petrol burns more cleanly than diesel, That's a fact!

The governments of Europe are realizing this and the manufacturers are trying to develop their petrol units to improve their economy. All the while the Euro regulations get stricter and stricter requiring particulate filters etc to pass. That's why they are going down this road at Ford, that's why Toyota hybrids are petrol, that's the future....

Maybe diesel will still be the default fleet choice, but for regular motorists buying with their own money (and out of warranty) this has real appeal over the noisy and expensive to fix diesels we've been given recently.

Or to put it simply: no DPF - yay!

Its easy to see why Ford have spent years working on this engine over costly hybrids and BEV cars. It fits into our market perfectly, don't want an overpriced hybrid and don't want to pay more for diesel at the pump because you are only doing 9000 miles a year, then this is perfect. £30 pound a year for the 123bhp to tax is a great achievement, and having driven it, its plenty gutsy enough, with bags of pull in 3rd and 4th gear. Ford should be proud of what they have achieved... but it needs to be tested to be believed.
Until electric / hybrid technology improves and is cheaper, and diesels become cheaper, this fits the bill perfectly.

1000cc engine with 123Bhp is a good number if the 4.3 liter fuel economy is true because many 1.6 diesel engines in a speed of 100km per hour can only reach 4-6.5 liter diesel and also many 1.6 liter engines can only handle 6-10 liters 100k per hour.I wonder 1000cc bybrit is on the way or not that means they can reach easily to 80 mpg. aeolus I wonder what kind of heatinf system do you use in your home-some kind of liquid or gas. and IvorBiggen TDCI-HDI-CRDI turbo units can be easily found between 100-300 euros replacement parts in manu euro countries.

But please, please don't swear.

Auto Express probably so small and silent that photographer was searching it at a wrong end of a car (picture 8).

Cars were blowing up all over the place this morning. NOT!

I think the car makers are starting to realize the importance of great looking rims and how they carry a lot of weight with the consumers. Just look at these!

this is one of the best petrol engines i have ever driven in my life.
i simply dont know how they have pulled it off. it reminds me of a bmw 525 i had a few years ago, really meaty and refind. i got mine 2 weeks ago and it still blows me away. it will do 60 in second and 100 in 4th. it will cruise at 110 all day. a real breakthrough. you doubters need to drive one. cheers.

In the late 1980's Nissan released a 930cc supercharged and turbocharged engine that produced 110ps. This engine appeared in the Micra Superturbo, but development of it was not continued and it is only recently that manufacturers have began looking at small forced induction engines.

This EcoBoost engine having a turbocharger, will obviously be more expensive to repair etc than an N/A unit would be.

54.5 mpg = 4.3 L/100 km ? More like 5.4 by my math. 4.3 litres is less than a gallon, so that would be somewhere about 70 mpg.

I had the chance to drive a VW Fox recently and thought it would be one up from a lawnmower. How wrong I was! I only drove a few miles and just on flat roads But it was fine. I then road tested a Toyota Aygo MMT with a view to buying one and again surprised at just how good a 3 cylinder can be. Even a 3 cylinder diesel Hyundai was good. This really does seem to be the way forward now although I bought a new Yaris MMT 4 Cylinder petrol! Great car. Would love the chance to try out more 3 cylinder cars though. 28 years in the car trade and driven more makes, models and sizes of car than I can remember. Regards.

I'm glad of some positive "ownership" comments. I have a 1.6 Tdci and am thinking of switching to this engine next year. I've had it with diesels now, fuel is too expensive and the 1.6 Tdci won't go over 48MPG no matter how sissily you drive it plus it's as flat as a fart.

I have had one of these cars for several weeks and it is excellent in every way, except.......... the fuel consumption is awful, 38mpg with careful driving, not much better than my 1970 Ford Cortina!

Key specs

  • Price: £17,945
  • Engine: 1.0-litre 3cyl turbo petrol
  • Power: 123bhp
  • Transmission: Six-speed manual, front-wheel drive
  • 0-62mph: 11.3 seconds
  • Top speed: 120mph
  • Economy: 54.5mpg
  • CO2: 114g/km
  • Equipment: Electric windows, air-con, DAB radio, cruise control
  • On sale: Now