REVIEW DATE: 07 Aug 2008
The Ford Focus Coupe Cabriolet is the perfect folding tin top for those who don't fancy a French car and can't run to a premium German badge. Andy Enright reports
One of the biggest growth sectors in the car market over the past few years has been that of affordable coupe-cabriolets. Time was when you had to buy French but there's now a bigger choice and the very best drive of the lot is this Ford Focus Coupe-Cabriolet. Even in the latest facelifted form, it's no great looker though and that could be key for some.
There no getting away from the fact. As a nation we have gone ga-ga over small cars with folding hard tops. If statistics are to be believed, we've already bought more drop top cars than France, Italy and Spain combined, notwithstanding our decidedly aqueous climate, and now that manufacturers can factor in the additional safety and security of a metal roof, there's no stopping us. Perhaps we should pause for a moment and ask ourselves what convertibles are really all about. It's the wind in the hair and, yes, looking good, which is why it's all the more perplexing that most compact folding hard top cars look about as sexy as mini-skip.
Enter Ford's latest Focus Coupe-Cabriolet. From some angles it's a stunner, from others it looks as if it has, to coin a phrase, a bit too much junk in the trunk. Still, no car is perfect and the Focus counters with a sharper driving experience than any of its direct rivals can serve up.
Buy the 1.6-litre version of the Focus Coupe Cabriolet and it's hard to escape the nagging suspicion that you've not bought a whole lot of engine, the lion's share of your money having gone on the basics and that fancy folding tin top. Things get a little more satisfying if you're prepared to dig a little deeper and get the 2.0-litre petrol model.
This engine feels as if it's made for the Coupe-Cabriolet. Dragging around a hefty welter of electric motors isn't child's play and the 143bhp 2.0-litre will punch the car to 60mph in 10.2 seconds. Coincidentally this is exactly the same time as the 2.0-litre TDCi diesel manages but Ford rather greedily wants another £1,500 model for model for the oil burner. Most will stick with this petrol option. A top speed of 129mph may be academic to some but it's indicative of just how much the Focus has in reserve when cruising at typical UK motorway speeds. Suffice to say, you're not flogging the car's guts out to keep pace.
"If you like the way the Ford Focus Coupe-Cabriolet looks, then there aren't too many reasons to look elsewhere.."
Like all Ford Focus models, the multilink rear suspension is set up to handle the worst you can throw at it, although the springs and dampers on the Coupe-Cabriolet have been tuned to offer a more supple ride than the surprisingly well focused hatch. The electrically-assisted steering system is one of the better examples of its ilk, although owners of Mk1 Focuses will still probably mutter about how good the original was before realising they sound like their fathers.
In the early days, most coupe cabriolet models looked rather ungainly, with huge distended rears that would open up like something from a Bond movie and then swallow the hood mechanism whole. That's no longer acceptable. Nor is having a car that features next to no luggage space. That sort of thing is all rather 2001 and the Focus Coupe-Cabriolet counters with 500-litres of room when the hood is up, although this does drop when the folding roof cartridge is in place. A full four-seater, the Focus Coupe-Cabriolet may not be the answer to the family motorist's prayers but it's a lot more practical than its fun-loving agenda may suggest.
Benefiting from Ford's 'kinetic design' approach to styling, the latest Focus CC has been smartened up around the front end. Trapezoidal grilles, swept back headlamps and bolder wheel arches are the key changes. Inside, the more upmarket aura continues. Nicer soft-touch plastics now cover the instrument panel as well as the upper front door trim and this is complemented by plusher seat fabrics plus a variety of more attractive fascia finishings.
The two-piece electrically-operated hard-top roof operates at the touch of a button and takes just 29 seconds, with no catches, latches or levers needing to be manhandled. Once the roof is stowed in the boot, the Focus Coupe-Cabriolet's lines are a good deal more elegant, with a classic rising waistline and a clean rear deck. Inside, the car's dashboard layout follows the style of other Focus models, but with a different colour scheme developed to distinguish it as a flagship.
There are three trim levels on offer and the names are fairly self explantory: CC-1 (only offered with the 1.6-litre engine), CC-2 and CC-3. All feature alloy wheels, an embossed chrome Focus logo at the rear, four-seats with sculptured rear bench, a range of unique colours, electronically-operated and heated door mirrors with side turn indicators, Thatcham Cat 1 alarm, CD stereo and air-conditioning. Go for the CC-2 models and you can expect 17in alloy wheels, three-spoke leather steering wheel, Sony MP3 player and Ford's excellent Quickclear windscreen defroster. Opt for the CC-3 and you'll also get leather seats, cruise control, a Sony six-CD system and automatic lights/wipers/mirror.
Safety of course is paramount in a car like this and Ford's new Rollover Protection Device (RPD) plays a vital role in increasing the Coupe-Cabriolet's passive safety performance. In addition to standard front and side airbags, the RPD is designed to help protect passengers in the event of a vehicle rollover. If the system detects an imminent roll, two safety roll-bars "fire" and extend out by up by 20cm to provide a supportive safety strut along with the ultra-strong windscreen pillars to protect the car's occupants. ESP stability control is also standard.
The 2.0-litre petrol model is, for the time being at least, the Focus Coupe-Cabriolet model in biggest demand from new, but that doesn't always translate into top notch residual values. In fact, it's pipped by the 1.6-litre entry level car in this regard but does better than the 2.0-litre diesel. Expect this car to retain around 47 per cent of its new price after three years. That's still an extremely strong showing from a car that wears a mainstream badge. By way of comparison, a 2.0-litre Focus hatchback will retain around 35 per cent and again, the diesel versions actually perform worse in terms of depreciation.
Fuel economy is reasonable at 37.7mpg for the 2.0-litre petrol car, rising to 39.8mpg for the 1.6-litre petrol and 47.9mpg for the diesels. Unless your daily commute takes you to Istanbul and back, the 2.0-litre petrol looks the best bet as it's unlikely that you'd recoup the additional expense in fuel savings offered by the diesel and the Focus 1.6-litre is only marginally better on fuel despite being a good deal slower.
If you like the way the Ford Focus Coupe-Cabriolet looks, and there are many that don't care for its rather distended bottom, then there aren't too many substantive reasons why you should look elsewhere. Narrowing down the best buy in the range is also a fairly simple procedure. It's the CC-2 version with the 2.0-litre petrol model. It drives sharply, is respectable value for money and won't cost an arm and a leg to run. The issue that I find unsettling about the Focus Coupe-Cabriolet is that its key asset, namely its sparkling handling, is an attribute that tends to be largely wasted on buyers of this sort of car.
Far higher up in the motivation hierarchy are factors such as what this vehicle says about them and how pretty it is. Those are thornier quandaries. When all is said and done, this is a Ford Focus, that most ubiquitous of cars, and it's not the most cohesively proportioned one at that. Although keenly priced and well engineered, the Focus Coupe-Cabriolet isn't going to dominate its market sector in quite the same way its hatchback sibling has.
The results below show the top FOCUS deals on buyacar
|Ford Focus 1.6 TDCi 115 Titanium 5dr diesel hatchback|
|Price £15,649||Save £4,496|
|Ford Focus 1.6 EcoBoost Titanium 5dr hatchback|
|Price £15,848||Save £4,202|
|Ford Focus 1.6 182 EcoBoost Zetec S 5dr hatchback|
|Price £16,431||Save £4,369|
|Ford Focus 1.0 125 EcoBoost Zetec 5dr hatchback|
|Price £14,456||Save £3,839|
|Ford Focus 1.6 TDCi 115 Zetec 5dr diesel hatchback|
|Price £14,923||Save £3,972|
|VIEW MORE DISCOUNT FOCUS DEALS|
|For FOCUS CC RANGE|
|OVERALL||7.4 OUT OF 10|
|Space / Versatility||8|
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