Long-term report: The Ford Focus Vignale proves to be a comfortable and capable long-distance cruiser
At last – a welcome few days off work. And a chance to put the latest member of our fleet of long-term loan cars through its paces.
Sure, our luxurious Ford Focus Vignale had proved ideal for the daily commute in its first couple of weeks with us, but for me, that’s a round trip of only around 20 miles.
A break in the country with friends beckoned, so to give EF19 YPC a proper workout I volunteered to drive.
On mentioning to them that we’d be travelling in a Ford Focus, our pals didn’t seem too impressed, but once we’d picked them up and had all their luggage on board they changed their tune, thanks to the levels of luxury and refinement that come with the Vignale moniker.
We had a fair way to go too, but there were no complaints from our rear-seat passengers – in fact, they were very complimentary about the levels of comfort and space back there, not to mention the smooth experience, and my driving skills can’t take the credit!
It’s clear that a lot had been done to refine the ride and handling of the Focus before the latest-generation cars arrived in showrooms. The steering feels light but never too vague, responsive but not over-eager. In corners, the car is composed, and it makes light work of the rutted roads we have to put up with here in the UK.
From my perspective, the trip with our pals couldn’t have gone any better (apart from the time they quibbled about the bill in a restaurant we visited).
I was impressed that we managed levels of fuel economy very close to the quoted 51.4mpg (exactly one mile per gallon less at 50.4 to be precise), and refuelling the car is a breeze.
Ford’s Easy Fuel capless feature means there are no dirty caps to touch, while a unique safeguard element makes it impossible to add the wrong sort of juice to the tank.
That impressive fuel economy is no doubt partly due to the advanced aerodynamic design of the Focus which helps reduce drag and, as well as making the most of every drop of diesel, helps keep CO2 emissions to a minimum as well.
If driving in daylight hours is a pleasure in this poshest of Ford Focuses, driving at night is possibly even better.
That’s thanks largely to the headlights automatically selecting full beam when appropriate, dipping when oncoming traffic is detected or when you are getting a bit closer to the vehicle you are following. The difference that makes to the after-dark driving experience is incredible and of course is appreciated all the more when you might be a bit more tired.
What else? Well, all the tech is working perfectly, but one feature gave me a bit of a shock – the pre-collision assist, which warned me of an accident that just wasn’t going to happen! Maybe it was feeling a bit under-used and just wanted to make its presence felt as it hadn’t been triggered yet.
As well as, er, focusing on the ride and handling, those clever boffins at the Blue Oval have spent a lot of time making the new car more intuitive and easier to use, and one area where this is particularly appreciated is the audio system.
The eight-inch multi-function touchscreen is quite the thing of beauty, emerging as it does elegantly from the fascia. It’s dead easy to operate, with many of the features doubling up on the steering wheel, and I can’t help but think of the time when I was 17 and had a ghetto blaster on the back seat of my Mini as my in-car entertainment.
Times have certainly changed in the past 40-odd years – and it’s worth emphasising the basic fact that diesel-powered cars are a world away from where they used to be just a few years ago in terms of refinement. Would anyone be able to tell if EF19 YPC ran on diesel or unleaded by listening to the engine? I doubt it.
Anyway, break from work sadly over, it’s back to the daily commute for a bit…