Ford Focus: Fourth report

Family man traded up from hatch to seven-seater for festive break. Has he been persuaded to make the switch permanent?

Our long-term Focus has handled everything we’ve thrown at it so far, but three adults, two children, their luggage AND everyone’s Christmas presents would be a struggle for just about any compact family car. And our Ford was no different...
Luckily I had the option of upsizing my holiday transport over the festive period, so I swapped the five seats of our Focus for the seven of a Grand C-MAX Titanium 2.0 TDCi. Our Focus has already come face to face with the larger S-MAX, so how would it fare against the smaller people carrier?
Comparing the amount of space available in a compact MPV and regular hatch is unfair, and while colleagues have criticised the Focus’ boot, it’s never posed me a problem. Deputy editor Graham Hope struggled to fit much else other than his young daughter’s buggy into the small 277-litre load space, but my two boys are older and no longer need a pushchair.
Even so, the extra space of the C-MAX’s 475-litre boot came in handy. With the third row of seats folded flat, our Christmas luggage fitted into the rear for the long motorway journey north. I quite enjoyed the C-MAX’s higher driving position, but missed the Focus’ Lane Keeping Aid (not even available on the MPV). When used in conjunction with the cruise control on the Focus, the system makes light work of the ever-increasing stretches of average speed camera-patrolled motorways.
But the seven-seater compensates with other extras like heated front seats – part of the eye-wateringly expensive Titanium X pack, which also adds leather trim, xenon lights and a panoramic roof. Plus, it had the useful £750 Sony sat-nav and rear view camera.
It’s just a shame the C-MAX carries over the Keyless Go system, which has proven irritating on the Focus. A button starts the engine when the keys are in your pocket – only they’re not likely to be there, as you’ll have had to fish them out to unlock the doors to get in the car. A full keyless set-up would be much better.
The C-MAX was a fantastic choice for a Christmas break, and its seven-seat layout meant we only needed to take one car on family trips out to walk off the festive excess.
How did it feel to climb back into the Focus? Comfortable, familiar and safe – that doesn’t sound like a ringing endorsement, but it is. The hatch feels lower and sportier to drive, and our car’s 1.6-litre EcoBoost engine provides more instant power. It’s also nippy and glides round town. But it comes at a cost, as I’ve struggled to match the Focus’ claimed 36.7mpg urban economy figure. The Grand C-MAX scores for its extra seats and space, but it’s also pricey: the cheapest model costs £4,245 more than the base Focus. There aren’t so many driving aids on the options list, either.
This was rammed home to me recently when I glanced down to adjust the climate control settings in the Focus on the way to work. Suddenly, the Active City Stop system engaged, bringing the car to an abrupt halt. In that split-second, the driver in front had done an emergency stop to avoid a cyclist. It’s the second time in six months that the hatch has taken a situation out of my hands to prevent a collision. What other £21,000 family car can offer that? Genius.

Extra Info

“The smooth and punchy EcoBoost turbo really suits the Focus. Add the sharp chassis, and it makes the car the most entertaining to drive in its class.”
James Disdale, Deputy road test editor
“Given that a Vauxhall Astra’s boot is 370 litres and a VW Golf’s 350 litres, the Focus is way off the pace. This is a serious design flaw by Ford.”
Globalste, via www.autoexpress.co.uk

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