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Ford Focus Review - 1.6 TDCI Diesel Hatchback

Ford Focus Reviews TDCI 1.6 Diesel

This detailed car review of the MK II 2005 Ford Focus 1.6 TDCI Zetec Climate diesel looks at handling, mpg, day-to-day practicality, reliability and running costs - qualities that have made the Ford Focus TDCI the UK's most popular small diesel car.

Big enough for a family of four, the second generation Focus hatchback is refined, cheap to buy, has excellent fuel economy and is rewarding to drive.

If you're looking to buy a used Ford Focus diesel, the buyer's guide below offers some useful advice from UK Ford dealers.

Overall Rating : Ford Focus 1.6 TDCI
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Buy Used Ford Focus - Benefits Fuel economy, handling, road holding, driver appeal, comfort, cheap to run and insure.

Ford Focus Problems Slow off the mark, road noise intrusive, some interior trim rattles, diesel Focus expensive to buy.

Used Ford Focus - Buyer's Guide

The Mark 2 Ford Focus 1.6 TDCI diesel was UK launched in January 2005, so used car prices are reasonable. You'll find that Ford Direct offer few (if any) very cheap deals for prospective buyers. However, you do get a decent warranty to compensate.

used Ford Focus TDCI diesel

However, some of the used Ford Focus cars sold by Ford Direct are actually ex-hire cars or lease vehicles, so check the previous keeper on the vehicle documentation before you buy!

Our tip is to shop around for the cheapest deals on a used Ford Focus TDCI and to buy a car which has a full dealer-stamped service history.

Trade Sales car supermarket in Slough also offer attractive deals on new and used diesel Ford Focus cars with large discounts available, but always check the car's previous owner. Like most car supermarkets they can offer poor part exchange deals, so before you buy compare Ford Direct dealer prices and their best part exchange trade-in price.

Before you buy a used Ford Focus, here are two useful tips from a UK Ford dealer:

  • Some Mk II Ford Focus cars are supplied with a space saving spare tyre and some have a full size spare. It's worth noting that a Ford Focus with a full size spare has a significantly smaller boot than the equivalent car with a space saving spare tyre. Always check this as it makes an important difference to the amount of luggage you'll be able to accommodate in the boot.

  • If you intend to buy a used Ford Focus, try to pick a car with the dark interior as this doesn't show the dirt. Some models come with light carpet colours and these are prone to looking tatty very quickly, especially if you have a family.
Value: Buy Used Ford Focus
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Ford Focus Road Test

New Ford Focus TDCI Cabin

A road test of the 1.6 TDCI Ford Focus reveals the car's refined gear change and its precise, nicely weighted steering. The handling and road holding of the Mk II Focus are exceptional with little body roll around corners. According to the motoring press, the Focus sets new standards for small car handling, being 'best in its class'. We agree wholeheartedly!

Driving position is good too, and the seats are very comfortable with excellent side and lumbar support. The only thing that takes some getting used to is the position of the handbrake, which is the other side of the centre console, closer to the passenger seat!

The Mk II Focus's ride quality is very firm as it is fitted with the improved Sports suspension, although the effects of road bumps and potholes are always well suppressed and the car remains very comfortable on all road surfaces.

One of the car's worst points is the unpleasant combination of road and engine noise at motorway speeds. You'll find cabin noise quite intrusive, resulting in the need to turn up the radio. It seems like Ford economised on sound insulation when they built the Mk II Focus.

Handling & Comfort : Ford Focus 1.6 TDCI
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Ford Focus Zetec Equipment

The Focus Zetec Climate model comes as standard with remote central locking, anti-lock brakes, perimeter alarm, air conditioning, 5 spoke alloy wheels with 205/55Rx16 low profile tyres, electric front windows, electric mirrors (heated), electric quickclear windscreen (helps to clear frost) and heater washer jets, front fog lamps and a driver's information computer.

Driver's Information Computer

Ford Focus Zetec Fuel Computer

Crude by modern car standards, the Focus's Driver Information Trip Computer provides outside air temperature, range until fuel tank empty, average fuel economy (see picture left) and average speed. It can only display one piece of driver's information at any one time.

For example, if you display average fuel economy, then you can't see the outside air temperature or the odometer. Instant mpg display is not available on the 2005 Focus Zetec trip computer (only average).

In addition, any driver information warning displayed removes the ability to display any other data on the driver's computer screen. For example a warning about low washer fluid would stay on the screen until the reset button is pressed at the end of the indicator stalk.

Stereo Radio / CD Player

Ford Focus Stereo

I must admit to have been very disappointed that the Ford Focus Zetec came with just a standard Ford 6000CD stereo radio/CD Player and 6 speakers (not a CD changer) and that the CD player fitted would not play MP3 CD's.

The Ford 6000CD radio suffers from poor FM reception, possibly due to a bad aerial. Even local FM stations can fade out in areas where they shouldn't!

Radio AUX Input Adapter

The 2005 Ford Focus Zetec lacks an AUX input jack for connecting an I-Pod. This seems like penny-pinching madness by Ford given the fact the radio has an Auxiliary Input (Aux In) button fitted. Fortunately there is a solution to easily add an Ipod connection:

When the radio is removed using the special radio removal keys, one finds that the wiring to connect the 3.5mm jack is actually already in place, but the AUX jack is not actually fitted inside the glovebox!

To solve this problem Ford provide a rather expensive accessory kit / adapter cable to add the Auxiliary input connector to the Ford Focus MK2 and Fiesta MK6 (fitted with the Ford 6000CD audio system). In actual fact all you're likely to need is the 3.5mm chassis socket, which can be purchased from Maplin for less than £2. Refer to how to fit the Ford aux adapter for fitting instructions. A 3.5mm to 3.5mm audio cable is then all that is required to connect the I-pod.

Sony MP3 CD Player

If you need an MP3 compatible CD player, then consider a Ford Focus Titanium which has a Sony CD sound system capable of playing MP3 CD's and 8 speakers. An extra cost option of a Sony 6 CD changer is also available on all Focus models.

Equipment Levels : Ford Focus 1.6 TDCI
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Build Quality

Our Ford Focus diesel hatchback ('55 registration) has negligable internal trim rattles even after 8 years of ownership, even if the car's interior doesn't have a 'quality car' feel about it.

Although there has been an attempt to smarten the car's interior with decent satin finish metal trim, some of the plastic materials used on the door handles, illuminated driver's mirror cover and glove box, look and feel cheap. Some flimsy plastic mouldings and trim panels look like they will break with time. An example is the flimsy Ford badge on the bonnet release which is lifted to expose the bonnet release lock.

Build Quality : Ford Focus 1.6 TDCI
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Focus 1.6 TDCI Performance

Ford Focus TDCI 1.6 Engine

The refined Ford Focus 1.6 TDCI 16V diesel DPF engine accelerates the hatchback car to 62mph in around 10.9 seconds, with 31 - 62mph taking an identical time.

The new all alloy diesel powered 1.6TDCI engine is of French origin and has DOHC (twin overhead camshafts) and 16 valves which represents an improvement on the 8 valve 1.8 TDCI diesel engine. Common Rail Fuel Injection is used for improved fuel economy and power output and a Diesel Particulate Filter (DPF) is fitted to meet Euro 4 emissions standards.

Tied in with a variable geometry turbocharger, the 1.6 DPF engine delivers a high power output of 109PS at 4000rpm and an equally healthy 240 - 260NM of torque at 1750rpm.

The 1.6 TDCI Ford Focus has reasonable performance and class leading diesel engine refinement, pulling strongly from low revs probably helped by the torque curve peaking at just 1750rpm. This translates to good mid range acceleration with enough power to pull up quite steep hills without the need to continually change down the gears. This is even more creditable when you realise that 5th gear is set at around 31mph / 1000rpm allowing a top speed of around 117mph (where legal). This means that the car's engine is turning over at a mere 2000rpm at 62mph.

One niggle though: It can be slow off the mark due to Turbo lag when pulling out at roundabouts, which can be frustrating and a little dangerous at times. Revving the engine before pulling out solves the problem.

The all-new French designed Ford Focus 1.6 TDCI engine is incredibly quiet too, even when starting it from cold. Gone is the annoying diesel rattle of old direct injection diesels, as the clever Common Rail Fuel Injection System delivers small charges of vaporised fuel over a longer period to increase combustion efficiency and to significantly reduce engine noise, which was one of the problems of older, less refined diesel engines.

To achieve greater engine efficiency the Diesel Common Rail Injection system runs at very high pressures of up to 1000 bar, using solenoids that release just the right amount of fuel to each cylinder at precise computer controlled timings. For more technical information on Common Rail Injection click here.

Performance & Refinement : Ford Focus 1.6 TDCI
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Ford Focus MPG Review

Ford Focus TDCI Fuel Economy

The fuel economy (mpg) of the 1.6 TDCI Ford Focus Diesel is amongst the best in its class. Fitting Michelin Energy low-rolling resistance tyres to our Focus significantly improved mpg to values above and beyond the manufacturer's specification! I would estimate we got about 4-5mpg improvement, well worth the additional cost.

The book figures claim 45.6 mpg Urban, 70.6mpg Extra Urban with a combined figure of 58.9 mpg and these correlate well with the actual fuel consumption figures attained during everyday use - although with careful driving around town we now get 49-50mpg unless traffic conditions are very congested. We manage around 60mpg on a mixture of 50 mile motorway journeys and the school runs, often with traffic congestion.

With steady speed UK A-road or motorway driving at a steady 60mph the Ford Focus 1.6 TDCI hatchback delivers over 70mpg (our best fuel economy is 79mpg on a 130 mile journey) - we suspect with a tail wind! Fuel economy is much worse in the winter months as the oil takes longer to warm up and air inlet temperatures are lower.

This gives the Focus TDCI a usable range of around 600 - 650 miles on a tank of diesel (52.7 litres) with economical driving. As with all diesel cars, the engine takes around 10,000 miles to fully loosen up and run in, which tends to improve fuel economy.

The Ford Focus is one of the most economical diesel cars to run and amongst the cheapest small cars to own, helped by the fact that it is a low emissions 'green car', with emissions of 127g/CO2 per km resulting in low annual road tax duty of just £105 when taking the current 2013 tax disc rates (UK Band D).

Fuel Economy (mpg) : Ford Focus 1.6 TDCI
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Emissions & Green Rating

The Ford Focus's refined 1.6 TDCI diesel engine meets Euro Stage 4 (IV) emissions standard for diesel engines.The latest standard is Euro 5, so the Mk II Focus lags some way behind on emissions, compared to the latest 2013 Focus.

Fitted with a Diesel Particulate Filter (DPF), the engine is still pretty clean. Gone is the cloud of smoke when starting the car from cold and under hard acceleration! The Focus still remains one of the best small 'green cars' available.

Most models offer CO2 emissions of 127g/km, which means that you save money on your car UK tax. Currently annual car tax on the Ford Focus TDCI 1.6 is £105 per year (in 2013).

Emissions & Green Rating : Ford Focus 1.6 TDCI
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Practicality & Space

Ford Focus Hatchback Review - Interior Space

The Mark 2 Ford Focus hatchback is larger than the car it replaces. It offers excellent practicality and interior space is pretty much best in its class. The car is wider and longer than the old Focus and there's enough room inside to accommodate 5 adults in total comfort.

The Ford Focus boot is a good size too. At 385 litres (volume) it's amongst the biggest boot in its class, with good depth and enough room for several large suitcases for weekends away. There's the added convenience of having a 60/40 split back seat too for extra luggage capacity in the hatchback.

The only practicality flaw lies with the glove box, which is ridiculously small and the front door pockets which are too small to take more than a few maps. However, alternative storage areas are provided in the centre console and either side of the 60/40 rear seat, as well as in the cloth seat backs.

Practicality & Space : Ford Focus 1.6 TDCI
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Ford Focus Safety

All reviews of the Mk II Ford Focus show it to be one of the safest cars in its class with a 5 star EURO NCAP rating. There are 6 airbags in most Focus models with a driver and a passenger airbag, side airbags in the seats and curtain airbags in the headlining for side impact. Remember that a child car seat should never be placed in a front seat of the car as a passenger airbag is fitted.

In addition, the Focus body uses advanced techniques to increase rigidity, which not only pays off in refined handling and road holding, but also under crash situations.

Safety : Ford Focus 1.6 TDCI
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Running Costs & Depreciation

The main running costs of the Ford Focus TDCI diesel (in terms of cost of ownership) are likely to be due to the car's depreciation. Servicing intervals are 12,000 miles on most models and the tyres are around £70 each to buy.

The Ford Focus diesel is a classic fleet vehicle and therefore depreciation is heavy. The car was worth around 40% - 43% of its new price after 3 years at trade in. However, with the rising costs of fuel and car tax duty in the UK, Ford Focus diesel residuals are likely to improve with time as the car becomes an increasingly attractive used car buy considering its good mpg and low running costs of around 45p per mile.

The Insurance Group of the Focus 1.6 TDCI on the new UK insurance rating system is 10 or 14 rising to 15 for 1.6 Diesel Ghia models for the top of the range models. This means cheap car insurance is available for all Focus models.

Costs & Depreciation : Ford Focus 1.6 TDCI
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Reliability & Problems

The Mk II Ford Focus 1.6 TDCI has excellent reliability. It has been the most reliable car I have ever owned. We've covered over 70,000 miles in 8 years of ownership, with only the Alternator having failed.

The local Ford garage did tell me that the 2.0 TDCI diesel engine had proved less reliable than the 1.6 and 1.8 TDCI. More Ford Focus reviews from owners detailing actual MPG, reliability issues and problems can be found at What Car.

1.6 TDCI Turbo Failure

There are many Internet reports of early Turbo failure on Focus 1.6 TDCI engines, so if you are thinking of buying a Ford Focus, get a mechanic to check the Turbo operation. Oil supply problems due to sludge build-up in the oil feed pipes can cause a blown Turbo.

There is a Ford Technical Service Bulletin concerning this issue and changing the oil regularly with the recommended fully synthetic 5W/30 oil can help to prevent sludge build up. Even with expensive remedial work having been carried out, there are some reports of ongoing Ford Focus Turbo failure on the web.

Reliability & Problems : Ford Focus 1.6 TDCI
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Ford Focus TDCI Review Conclusion

The Ford Focus TDCI is one of the best small diesel cars with few reliability problems to report. It's fun to drive, has excellent handling / road holding and is cheap to run with good mpg. It is spacious too, offering the practicality and space of much bigger family cars, with a good size boot capable of accommodating several large suitcases.

Ford's 1.6 TDCI diesel engine is refined and quiet, offering good performance and lots of mid range torque and acceleration. The fuel economy (mpg) of the Ford Focus diesel is amongst the best in its class, particularly on models fitted with the 1.6 TDCI (109PS DPF engine).

However, one area for improvement lies with the Ford Focus interior, where cheap plastic fittings ruin what would otherwise be a quality car. The Focus also has intrusive road and engine noise at motorway speeds and the standard fit Ford 6000 CD radio is poor. It struggles to pick up all but local FM stations and won't play MP3 CD's. Ford should consider fitting a DAB compatible radio or the MP3 compatible Sony CD player in all Focus models.

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