Written by: Adil Arif
Photography by: Adil Arif
A three-cylinder engine? They still make those? My last experience with a three-cylinder powered car was my uncle’s 1.0L 1989 Geo Metro. I was single digits at the time but I still remember being terrified anytime he would pick me up from school. It was a small dinky little hatchback that would take forever to get up to any speed. Trying to pass someone would also leave me subjected to hearing my earliest expletives while my frustrated uncle would man the wheel. It was a horrible car, RIP.
With that distant memory resurging, I got behind the wheel of this week’s tester, the 2015 Ford Focus SE Sedan, with very low expectations. Powered by a 1.0L Ecoboost (turbocharged) three-cylinder engine, I immediately thought it was a prank. Twenty-six years later and Ford is trying to revive my horrible memories of that awful Geo Metro. Thankfully that isn’t the case here. The Ford Focus SE is far from that and is actually quite fun to drive – oh hey it’s got three pedals too!
Let’s address the burning question first, why a three-cylinder? Why not just stick with a traditional four-cylinder engine? Well if you haven’t guessed already, the main advantage of a three-pot is fuel efficiency – fewer cylinders and a smaller displacement means there is less fuel to burn. In addition, a three-cylinder is considerably lighter, more compact in size and as a result, much cheaper to build than a four. So how does it fare in the new Focus? I got to say, it’s pretty darn good.
The numbers can be misleading. Though it’s rated at 123 hp and 148 lb-ft of torque, the little turbocharged engine has quite the punch. The majority of power is primarily delivered in the mid-range and you don’t really start moving until 2,500 rpm. However, the Focus’ handling and ride comfort is excellent, and the steering rack is incredibly quick and responsive.
Anyone out for this type of vehicle obviously has fuel economy at the top of his or her list. A full tank of 87-octane fuel only cost us $45 and was more than enough to last us throughout the week. I averaged a respectable 8.5 L/100km with a predominantly heavy right foot, and I’m fairly confident that lower numbers are possible - Ford rates the setup at 8.1 L/100km in the city and 5.9 L/100km on the highway. If you’re not impressed with such figures then you may want to look at the smaller Ford Fiesta or pay a much higher premium for a diesel or hybrid vehicle.
Our mid-level Focus SE Sedan came well equipped for $21,750. A full body kit and rear spoiler, 17-inch aluminum wheels, and fog lamps give a nice athletic look to the already handsome exterior. From certain angles the car looks very similar to the larger Ford Fusion. Inside you’ll find a suite of handy features: Bluetooth, a rear-view camera, rear parking sensors, a decent sounding stereo and a cold weather package (heated seats, steering wheel and mirrors). The cabin is spacious and thanks to laminated front windows and extra sound-deadening it’s exceptionally quiet, rivalling premium interiors at much higher price brackets. Rear passengers can also ride along comfortably as the Focus comes with adequate leg and headroom.
The new Focus SE is great value and can offer up some cheap thrills. However, as much as I hate to say it, I think an automatic transmission option would have been a good idea. Especially being in the city, the long clutch pedal was unforgiving and tiresome to operate in persistent stop-and-go traffic. Usually, having a manual gearbox is a compromise for added power, control and driving pleasure, but that’s not the Focus’ mojo. Fuel economy is the star of the show here, and I personally think an automatic transmission could shift earlier and more efficiently than my appendages ever could.
In short, three-cylinder engines have come a long way, and my views of them have certainly changed: no longer do I associate them as ugly mundane vehicles that take a generation to hit 60 km/h. If you're looking for a proper commuter car, the Ford Focus SE 1.0L is a compelling choice and offers up a great alternative in the segment. The engine is a delicate surprise, the cabin is extremely quiet, and the fuel consumption is above average. If you opt for the 1.0L Ecoboost engine, you’ll be glad to know that you’re using less fuel on your daily commute, but be prepared to sacrifice some speed to save a few more bucks at the pump.
型号 Model: 2015 Ford Focus SE Sedan 1.0L
顏色 Paint Type: Tectonic Silver Metallic ($200)
廠方建議售價 Base Price: $18,849
試車售價 Price as Tested: $21,749
軸距 Wheelbase(mm): 2,648
長闊 Length/Width/Height (mm): 4,534 / 2,044 / 1,466
車重 Curb weight (kg): 1,321
引擎 Engine: 1.0L DOHC turbocharged inline-three
最大馬力 Horsepower: 123 hp @ 6,350 rpm
最高扭力 Torque: 125 lb-ft @ 3,500 rpm
波箱 Transmission: 6-speed manual
擺佈 Engine & Drive Configuration: Front engine, FWD
前懸 Suspension-Front: Independent MacPherson strut-type with hollow stabilizer bar
後懸 Suspension-Rear: Fully independent Control Blade SLA with stabilizer bar
煞制-前後 Brakes: Power-assisted front rear disc brakes with four-sensor, four-channel Anti-Lock Braking System amd AdvanceTrac electronic stability control
油耗 Fuel Consumption (City/Highway/Combined)- L/100 km: 8.1 / 5.9 / 7.1
輪胎尺碼 Tires: P215/55R17